MANILA, Philippines–He had been weighed and found wanting.
The People Surge alliance for Yolanda survivors today accused Department of Interior and Local Government Sec. Manuel “Mar” Roxas of being the worst sort of political opportunist for using the calamity to promote his presidential ambitions, but abandoning the survivors after his incompetence became apparent.
“Sec. Roxas is the kind of leader who abandons the people when they need him most,” said Sr. Edita Eslopor, People Surge spokesperson. “To remember, he was actually in Tacloban City where the storm was already known to be heading, but he left the day before the storm. The key official in charge of civil defense and the local government wasn’t there to take charge. And he has never been back there in the sense of political leadership, and the people will not easily forget that.”
The People Surge spokesperson also said Roxas angered the people because of the political opportunism he showed during the crucial rescue and relief period after the storm.
“It is public knowledge that the mayor of Tacloban City is not an ally of the Aquino government. But Sec. Roxas made matters worse for the Yolanda survivors by accusing the mayor of not doing his job and trying to take over the city. Sec. Roxas’s presumptuousness to put himself in command of the key city in Eastern Visayas angered the people, who rightly suspected he sat out the storm in Manila so he could swoop in when everything was safe to make himself a hero. The scheming by Roxas and the Aquino government led to unnecessary political bickering and contributed to the gross incompetence in the rescue and relief efforts.”
Eslopor added Roxas only made himself more unpopular by implementing the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda, especially the No-Build Zone policy banning the rebuilding of coastal communities 40 meters from the shoreline.
“Sec. Roxas is worse than Yolanda for trying to permanently evict the urban and rural poor on the pretext of ensuring their safety. In fact, the Yolanda survivors cannot be safe because the storm surge went kilometers beyond 40 meters, and the survivors now face the critical loss of their shelter and livelihood. The ones who will benefit the most from such a policy will not be the people, but big businesses on whom will fall the burden of reconstruction and are thus anticipating juicy contracts as well as prime real estate.”
The People Surge spokesperson called on Roxas to resign for proving himself inept at his task. “Sec. Roxas and the Aquino government only make matters worse for the Yolanda survivors. Sec. Roxas betrayed the Yolanda survivors twice, for failing to effectively lead the rescue and relief work and in fact crippling these, and for implementing a flawed reconstruction program.”
“His carrying out of the No-BuildZone is an insult to the storm survivor who were demolished by Typhoon Yolanda but now face the permanent loss of their homes and livelihood. Roxas betrayed the people; he must pay the price by resigning to show some common decency. As far as People Surge is concerned, Roxas’s political ambitions are finished once more. Who will vote for a buy who abandoned his post at a time when he was needed most, and who continues to bungle his work to this very day?” ended Eslopor.