PNoy: Problem with Romualdez is not politics

Posted at 01/26/14 2:18 PM


MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III lambasted Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez anew, saying the local executive’s tiff with Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas is “still a continuing problem.”

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s "Bottomline," Aquino said the problem with Tacloban and how it has reacted to the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda is not about “politics” at all.

“A week after [Yolanda], he told me, ‘We have the money, but the banks are not open. If the banks were open, we could have the contractors, garbage collection, etc. move already,’” Aquino said, who then tasked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Department of Finance to expedite the processing of the finances to ease the burden of the most-hit city in the Visayas.

But more than two months after Yolanda, garbage is still a problem in Tacloban, Aquino noted.

He also stressed that not all fatalities have been buried.

“Why were the dead not yet buried? The arrangement was they were to talk to a memorial park and discuss the burial. Who has land in Tacloban anyway? It’s the local government unit,” Aquino said.

“So what’s the problem? It’s not politics anymore,” he said.

Aquino noted that Tacloban’s neighbors have reacted so fast after the havoc of Yolanda. “That was not the case everywhere,” he said of Tacloban.

The tiff between Roxas and Romualdez has been highlighted in the media, with some analysts saying the slow government action in Tacloban had something to do with politics. Videos also surfaced showing their differences over the rescue and relief efforts.

At a congressional hearing in December, Romualdez broke down in tears and accused Aquino and Roxas of politicking instead of immediately responding to calls for help.

On Thursday, however, Romualdez and Roxas were seen shaking hands at the Senate floor.

Roxas claimed he would seek a meeting with the mayor to determine what Tacloban still needs.