What really happened between Alfred Romualdez, Mar Roxas and Yolanda?

  • Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 9.18.14 AM

    Screencap of CNN Philippines’ website.

  • Alfred Romualdez isn’t saying the truth about Yolanda and Mar Roxas

    In those first few critical hours following Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)’s devastating impact on the island of Leyte, everyone in Tacloban, the provincial capital was in a daze. Everyone was in shock. Yolanda was one of the most powerful storms in recent history. Everyone saw the photos, the videos. The damage and devastation was massive. Property were destroyed. And *bodies* littered in the streets.  And the stench was unbearable.

    Alfred Romualdez was one of those in shock, in a daze. He was walking around Tacloban with his dogs, and Yayas when Cabinet Secretaries in the area rescued him.

    Alfred Romualdez was pleading for aid.

    Thousands of bodies littered the streets. People everywhere were hungry. There was literally no infrastructure of any kind. There was only one dump truck that survived. Only 5 of Tacloban’s finest reported for duty. Understandably the police had lives and loved ones who needed their attention.  And some of course were visited by death.

    The situation was dire. The situation was that desperate.

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  • PostYolanda
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    Infographic source: DBM Yolanda page.

    Status of Yolanda fund releases (as of October 31, 2015)

    List of Releases by Agency (as of October 31, 2015)
    Detailed List of Releases (as of October 31, 2015)
    Support Cluster Report
    Infrastructure Cluster Report
    Social Services Cluster Report
    Livelihood Cluster Report
    Resettlement Cluster Report

  • In those crucial first hours… on that first day following Yolanda’s onslaught, it was Mar Roxas who got everything organised. Command conferences were scheduled at 7 o’clock in the morning to divide the work for the day. “You guys will do this,” Mar Roxas ordered. He would tell the next set what he needed them to do, and so on. The airport— badly damaged— needed fixing. Tacloban’s airport was an essential access point so they could bring in not just equipment, but food, medical aid, troops, and other aid to the devastated area.

    Alfred Romualdez seem to have forgotten that. Or maybe he conveniently forgot that he flew out of Dodge while the rest of the government was in Tacloban. 

    The week later, PNoy told Mar Roxas: “Pare, we need a resolution from the local government essentially saying we’re allowed to do all this.” Mar Roxas replied, “I’m going to talk to Alfred about this.” Under Philippine law, the national government simply couldn’t take over as extensively as it did, the local government of Tacloban. The President understood that however good he and his government could do, the harsh reality of politics was that it could be used against them.

    Why is there a legal piece of paper that’s needed for the national government to essentially take over a local government? 

    You have to understand, Tacloban was nothing. It had no police. It had one working dump truck. It had no functioning government (he few out of Tacloban, remember? and even if he did not, Romualdez didn’t have the infrastructure to do anything, not even to keep the peace.) That’s not actually legal in the Philippines. What people don’t realise is that the national government could be sued for that. 

    So they needed a resolution to step in and do the work. 

    Yet even without that piece of paper the national government kept working. 

    What is the evidence of this? 

    Police and Military were flown in to secure Tacloban. 

    Food, Medical Supplies, equipment poured in. Aid was being given to Tacloban. 

    So a week later a meeting was set because the President was asking Mar Roxas about the document, and so he needed to talk to Alfred Romualdez. 

    I think the video is up on the interwebs or something like that somewhere. 

    And Alfred Romualdez was stalling. He was asking why do you need this, why do you need that. He was far from being the cooperative person, who a week earlier was walking the streets of Tacloban with his dogs and Yayas, in a daze. 

    In the room was also someone taking a video. Ricky Carandang said that he had barred the media from that meeting. He wasn’t one of their guys. So he figured Romualdez wanted a record of the event. What happened next? The video was being spliced every which way. Where did it first appear? The Manila Standard. And who owns the Manila Standard?

    You have to understand, this was a meeting that didn’t need to happen. This was the meeting that took time away from helping real people who were hungry, and sick, and needed help. This was a meeting that needed to be called because legally speaking the national government can not do what it did which was to essentially take over Tacloban’s government. 

    I suppose the analogy would be that what the national government did was as close to martial law as it could. And here was Alfred Romualdez stalling, and rejected the Government’s help. We didn’t have a quorum, etc. etc. etc. So Mar Roxas was explaining the birds and the bees to Alfred Romualdez and the gist was: you know people are going to use this to get back at us down the road and that’s where the context of the “Aquino and Romualdez” line came out. 

    People need to also gain context that there are little laws like that that are scattered around. I know what you are thinking. Why worry about laws at a time like that? Because you also need to understand that PNoy and Daang Matuwid isn’t in the habit of “suspending the law” or turning the other way or turning off civility. Because where does it stop? Where does stepping out of the line end? 

    In the heat of the moment, Mar Roxas said, “Bahala kayo sa buhay ninyo!”  Wouldn’t you be short when there was so much work, and Alfred Romualdez was making it harder for the national government to help?

    Mar Roxas, and the rest of the Cabinet Secretaries as the record would show would continue to provide every assistance to Tacloban.

    In fact, when Alfred Romualdez asked for 3 months worth of Internal Revenue Allotment (a local government’s slice of the country’s budget). Department of Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad said, “No, take 6 months of IRA because you need it!

    (Update) – Rappler’s Ayee Macaraig reported that Alfred Romualdez said, ‘Nakapagsalita kami ng maanghang na salita (We said harsh words) but in no given time are we ungrateful for help given to us’.

    Ping Lacson who was head of the Yolanda recovery effort said that Alfred Romualdez’s statements that Tacloban didn’t receive any funds was a lie. “The city had already been given P230.7M in cash by DILG for the repair of gov’t centers as requested,” Secretary Lacson said. Mayor Romualdez, according to Lacson, changed his mind and wanted to realign the budget. This meant leaving the fund’s status floating. According to Lacson, Romualdez’s reason for requesting the funds, and then requesting to realign it after receiving the funds can be considered questionable.”

    What happened between the intervening days when Alfred Romualdez was walking aimlessly like a survivor of an apocalypse in Tacloban, and the day he sat in the room with Mar Roxas, stalling and uncooperative? We can only speculate at this point. Between that day, and the meeting, one curious coincidence is interesting. Vice President Jejomar Binay, and the other Romualdezes arrived in Leyte. It was the week after that meeting between Roxas and Romualdez that negative news cascaded out.  It was also following that meeting with Mar Roxas that the Manila Standard, a paper known for its anti-government stance, and owned by the Romualdez family, received those spliced videos.

    Who is putting politics first? 

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • ferdie san pedro

    what it is this A MAR ROXAS PROPAGANDA …COME ON , ENOUGH FOR ELITIST PROPAGANDA . POLITICS AT ITS FINEST ANG GUSTO MU PALABASIN E …ok admit by romualdez that being un cooperative ,,,where is those money that supposed to be to the victims …2yrs now still poverty reach leyte high. and it was taken over by the national government,,, the people is asking WHERE IS THE MONEY …..to make them start a new life ….

  • shuttlerider

    Nope. This is far from the truth. While I dislike, well short of loath the likes of Romualdez and his clan, no amount of justification can cleanse Mar’s sins in Tacloban. This is an insult to those who survived the catastrophe.

  • NGEK!!

    Another propaganda by retarded government!!! This government either cause you tragedy or calamity because of to much politics. Papugi at excuses lang ang alam. The worst government ever in my life. Iam so frustrated and disgusted. Putting filipinos as the hostage para makapaghiganti or maprotektahan ang lupang hindi naman sa kanila. Alam mo kung sino ang pumatay at nadamay pa ang mga kawawang sundalo. Karma lang ang katapat ninyo. Will pray for you that someday you’ll wake up to reality.

  • cocoy

    Friends, I will be closing the thread because traffic spike kept breaking the server.

  • Jayme Kayumanggi

    Taclobanos,
    Is it true that your mayor initially refused to evacuate the locality, until such time it was too late to do so?
    Is it also true that your mayor demanded that relief funds be released to the city administered by himself, when he himself testified he had no LGU mechanism to to facilitate any relief work. City hall was blown down, most of his police force perished in the storm and no mechanism to do relief work. Now tell me, why do you think your mayor demanded the relief funds be released to him……………your guess is as good as mine, besides Taclobanos, you know him better than I do.

  • annabanana

    How much, sir? How much did smar pay you? Being a yolanda survivor I am still amazed at how some people get convinced by smar. The international news can speak. And we at ground zero have seen everything. Even those C130s at the airport, they said they prioritize those with medical conditions. But we went there asked for my father who at that time was in dire need to be flown out of tacloban to a waiting medical facility in cebu. But we were asked straight to our faces (by those men in uniform at the airport) that we couldn’t be assisted if we do not have connections. The australian medical tean tried to assist us by convincing then (airforce, men in uniform) that our case is very very urgent. But they just gave a straight face no. We went to ormoc to try our luck unfortunately the military stayed away because they said “baka mahawa kami”. My father has schizophrenia and it is not communicable for crying out loud. He was too dehydrated and none of the commercial ships, the navy nor the airforce gave a helping hand. Do you know sir who helped us? The americans. We were finaly able to fly to cebu after 4 days of waiting with my father having no food or water at all (4 days, sir, 4 days!). We were able to fly to cebu bec a certain major danield helped us through ormoc airport and told a certaib Filipino officer to assist us. At first that pinoy officer hesitated but major daniels kept coming back to us to check on us and to remind that pinoy officer. Now sir, pls help us move on and forget the pain so that we will eventually be able to forgive by not posting biased and made up stories about yolanda. You were not there. So you would never know who tells the truth romuladez or smar? Ewan! Just stop the bickering already bec it is not helpful!

  • Dandy Scully

    I am also a Yolanda victim and I agree with this article. Why was there a need for the “heated” meeting if Romualdez had simply cooperated? Approval ng LGU ang kailangan? O e di pumayag. Tapos! Ang problema ni Romualdez he probably wanted to take credit and control of the relief efforts. Unfortunately we really do have SOP’s and procedures in place. Im not pro-Roxas either. For all we know, his presence in Tacloban might have been a pre-campaign strategy, a chance for him to “shine”.
    However, Romualdez is definitely not clean and guilt-free. Unang una, he ignored the storm surge warning by staying in his beach front home. What does that say about preparedness when the Mayor himself didnt take proper precautions?Di ba siya ang dapat na pinakaprepared? So yeah, I can imagine him in a daze after the typhoon. He has the face for it. Romualdez stuck with the Taclobanons? Hell yeah he should have because it was his job! At dapat lang after all the riches they have gained from their long rule in Tacloban. Please lang, Mayor, we deserve better. Alam naman naming nakabenefit din kayo ng asawa mo from all the publicity post-Yolanda. Just look at the Tacloban LGU facebook. Puro pagpapabida ninyo. But you the good guy? Please.
    Politics is politics, these clowns are out to take each other down. But let us not venerate the other while crucifying the other. Ang kawawa ay ang mga tao. May resettlement sites na nga pero wala silang kuryente at tubig. These people lost their loved ones and are barely surviving. Buhay ka nga lubog ka naman sa utang. Sa ibang lugar the government officials are purchasing land (using personal money) only to sell them back to the government at a higher price. Ang gagaling ninyo! Mga bwiset.

    • annabanana

      I agree with you na pareho lang sila mga trapo. But i disagree with you on the article simply bec the article is glorifying roxas. Sino ba ang nag send ng tweet on nov 7 na all is wellm prepared na lahat. “Nagawa na ang dapat gawin?” Walang iba kundi si smar pareho lang naman sila ni alfred. Alfred stayed in his beach house while smar stayed at leyte parkm it’s just the same story. At hindi totoong hindi nagwarn ang local govt. The people just didn’t take it seriously. Bec we people haven’t seen how a strong typhoon would damage us. Days before pa ng yolanda nag house to house nam it was even shown in the local news that most people just laughed it off. Instead of evacuating they just tied their shanties to the ground. Packed their things if in case… but didn’t plan of avacuating at all. But there were people who listened and prepared. If you could see on nov 12 people were panic buying. I was one of them. The strength of the typhoon was told that it could lift bulldozers up in the air. I took it seriously and prepared. So i don’t think that it is right also to put the blame on the govt on the num of deaths but i guess the problem lies in how the govt reacted after the storm. Instead of helping people out nag bickering pa. Pwed!

  • Tin Dula

    With all due respect, Sir. Clearly, what you have written is purely biased. Those who survived Yolanda, like myself, can speak of the truth and what really happened days after Yolanda struck. We will stick to the real truth until our last breath. By not doing so, we disrespect those who perished. Alfred never left us (Tacloban) having seen him hours after Yolanda devastated the city and mind you, he was NOT walking around with his dogs and yayas. He was with his family at that time while Mar was in a dump truck. Shame on you for writing such fallacy. You may delete this comment, I won’t mind. Just so you know, nothing and no one can stop us from telling the truth, not even Yolanda. May GOD bless your soul. You are clearly in need of it.

    • cocoy

      You might want to read this:
      https://www.facebook.com/roly.eclevia/posts/585997401538568

      Note: I’m posting the story to commemorate typhoon Yolanda, which struck Nov. 8 two years ago, and to belie allegations that Mar Roxas and the government were slow to respond to the tragedy. I’m doing so also at the promptings of my friend and, decades ago, my editor Daisy Amos at the Subic Bay News in the US Naval Base, Subic Bay. -Roly E. Eclevia

      “Take cover,” DILG Secretary Mar Roxas barked. “The ceiling fan could fall.”

      Ex-Alaminos Mayor Nani Braganza and I dived and sought refuge under a table. Not that we needed to be told. The hotel seemed to be caving in. We were right smack in the path of the strongest typhoon ever to hit land in recorded history. It also turned out to be the most destructive and the deadliest.

      It was 8 a.m., Nov. 8, 2013. From where we cowered we could see, through the glass windows, branches torn from their trunks and blown all over the place. The monster—for it was a monster—hurled them at the hotel as if to flush us out.

      The last bulletin we heard was at 4:30 a.m., when Typhoon Yolanda made landfall in Guian, Samar.

      In the past three days SMAR (Secretary Manuel Araneta Roxas) had been conducting frenzied preparations. From the DILG Operations Center at Camp Crame, he fired orders in quick succession to governors and mayors in the typhoon’s path. He told them to preposition rescue personnel and equipment and to carry out emergency relief operations at a moment’s notice.

      Then, on the eve of that great weather disturbance, SMAR left the comfort of his office and flew to Tacloban, to make sure his orders were carried out to the letter. There he planned to set up a command post for the rescue and relief operations during and after the typhoon.

      He and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin checked in at the Leyte Park Hotel to sit out the howler.

      Nani, with me in tow, joined them later. He was to assist SMAR in his dealings with local politicians. A former congressman, Cabinet secretary, and mayor, he was perfect for the job.

      Sitting It Out
      “Stay away from the windows,” SMAR again shouted. He and Nani were herding the guests and city residents who had sought refuge in the hotel, into the basement.

      It was 10 a.m. The might of the monster was on full display.

      The one-inch thick glass door was swinging like crazy, making a fearful crashing sound each time. Windows shattered, letting in all kinds of debris: tree branches and leaves, sand and tufts of grass, mud and rain. They hit and stung us in the face, swirled around us. Outside, cars, vans, delivery trucks were being thrown every which way.

      I felt like I was watching a Hollywood horror movie, only this time I was in it.

      At SMAR’s instructions, I called Col. Jojo Angan, who was left behind at Camp Crame. I was to tell him the situation on the ground and relay SMAR’s orders for appropriate government agencies to get ready to move in. It was no use. All manners of communication were out. No power.

      Through it all, SMAR was calm and collected. I could sense from his voice, however, that he was under tremendous pressure. The lives of people were in his hands, and he fully realized the fact, with other officials, civilian and military, deferring to his judgment and awaiting his orders.

      Damage Assessment
      The typhoon began to let up at 10:30 a.m.

      SMAR asked the hotel management for dry sheets and towels for the locals and their children who had sought refuge in the hotel. They were all soaked to the skin and shivering. He also requested food and water for everyone.

      Against the advice of everyone, SMAR, Gazmin, and Nani went out to survey the damage. It was surreal outside. Otherwise sturdy structures had toppled over, their steel reinforcements bent like paper clips. Houses were flattened to the ground.

      There were bodies strewn in the streets, and SMAR ordered that they be collected and brought to the undertaker and given the dignity they deserved. However, the priority now was to bring aid and comfort to the living, who were just beginning to emerge, cold and hungry, frightened out of their wits.

      Nobody could show us around. We had counted on Mayor Alfred Romualdez to help us make the initial assessment. He was supposed to set up a quick response command center, but he was nowhere to be found.

      Luckily, the structure housing the police sustained only minor damage, and, most important of all, 30 cops had reported for duty. The precinct had more than 250 personnel, but most of them were victims too. They needed to secure their families first.

      SMAR, grateful for the little resources he could muster, set up the command post. He instructed Col. Bong Cabillan, the chief of police, to find all DILG, PNP, BFP, and BJMP officers and men and get them to report to him.

      He had two objectives: 1) establish communication with the national government and dispatch search and rescue teams, and 2) clear the airport and major roads so that help, when it came, could reach the victims.

      SMAR dispatched two teams of policemen on bicycles, one to the airport to see what could be done to clear the runway, and another to Palo, Leyte, for a much needed satellite phone.

      Then he and Gazmin commandeered the two working police cars to see things for themselves.

      On Real Street, the city’s main road, they ran into broadcast journalist Ted Failon and his team. In tears, Failon narrated how they had been trapped in the Fishermen’s Village in Barangay San Jose. They were on their way to the ABS-CBN field unit nearby.

      Clearing Operation
      Farther afield, SMAR and Gazmin caught up with city administrator Tecson Lim. At last they could talk to someone who knew the area. They told him to get city hall employees to help clear the roads.

      Near the Coca Cola plant, SMAR saw a fleet of heavy equipment. He told the foreman to begin the clearing operation, assuring him rental and manpower expenses would be paid for, even if he had to advance the money personally.

      A contingent of the 81st Storm Troopers Brigade came into view. He instructed them to get to work too. To the people he met around the city, he said help was coming.

      At 4 p.m., Mayor Romualdez finally showed up. SMAR and Gazmin ran into him at the Junction/Rotunda. The mayor and his wife and children were with the family dogs. He said they almost drowned in their beachfront home. Informed that the family was headed to city hall, Gazmin instructed the driver of an Army truck to bring them there.

      Now the clearing operation was in full swing, with the PNP and the Army leading the way.

      At about 5 p.m., the cops who had been dispatched to Palo arrived. Now with the satellite phone, SMAR and Gazmin could talk to President Aquino.

      Here’s what I remember SMAR telling the President:

      “Sir, all communications systems are down, most government infrastructure are badly damaged, rescue personnel and equipment could barely cope. We need all the help we can get to jump-start the relief operation. We are clearing the runway now and the main roads leading to the airport so planes from there (National Capital Region) can land.”

      SMAR and the cops worked until 11 p.m., to get the generators working. Then we went back to our hotel by car and, where it was impossible to go farther because of the debris, on foot.

      Initial Relief Work
      The next day, at 8 a.m., we were back to the police station-turned-command post. Soon we heard a C130 plane approaching and several Huey helicopters. They were carrying rescue personnel, equipment, and foodstuffs. Help was starting to arrive.

      SMAR’s efforts paid off handsomely. The runways had been cleared. The Leyte Plaza had been turned into a helo pad, and choppers came and went throughout the day, all carrying more personnel and relief goods.

      There was no lack of volunteers. There were SMAR’s friends in Tacloban, led by Lenny Banez and others. They offered to provide us with water from a groundwater pump and placed several heavy equipment at our disposal.

      A Chinese shop owner gave us chainsaws to use, if we could assemble the kits. His technicians had not reported for work, so we put together the parts ourselves, using the Chinese language instruction manual, to SMAR and Gazmin’s amusement.

      On Nov. 10, President Aquino arrived. He had been preceded by DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, whose team was to take over the relief operation.

      After lunch the President and SMAR boarded a military plane for an aerial inspection, not only of Tacloban but also of the other typhoon-devastated areas.

      Help started coming in earnest, from the government and the private sector, from the US and other countries, from the UN and from international humanitarian groups.

      The Blame Game
      Only after two weeks—when the PNP and the Army, DPWH and DSWD, and other government agencies were firmly in place–did SMAR leave Tacloban for the rest he so richly deserved.

      Ironically, he was criticized for “the slow response of the government.” He was the face of the relief operation—and the subsequent rehabilitation and reconstruction program—so his political enemies found it convenient to blame him for everything that went wrong.

      Never mind the fact that the tragedy was of such magnitude it was impossible to bring relief to everyone all at one time, even with the help of the international community. Close to a million families with 4.5 million members were affected. That’s why a lot of people had to endure days, even weeks of waiting before help could reach them. Some 6,300 died and an undetermined number were injured.

      “I was there the day before the typhoon struck,” SMAR once blurted out in exasperation. “How much faster than that can you get?”

      No good deed goes unpunished!

      • annabanana

        Relief operations? Where? At the airport!!! These people were very incosiderate that not all are able to walk that far under the scorching heat of the sun just to get a 500 ml bottle of water, a kilo of rice and some canned goods. They had the equipments to be able to go places that are far from the airport. But they didn’t bother.

  • Alberto V. Sabater

    Still trying to justify your positions. The damage has been done and you still talk about clearing names. To deny that this transpired and no words were spoken that will hurt when situations does not call for it is downright politicking now. Why not let things slide and let the people forget such occurrence. Maybe in due time it will be forgotten.

  • Maria Fernandez

    my kababayans, it is time to set the truth. read the above article and be guided.

    • junjun

      misguided you mean?

    • annabanana

      Would you really believe that? I am from tacloban and leave near the airport. Yes, your president came to tacloban to distribute water bottles, for what? For photo ops! He didn’t even finish the distribution, for heaven’s sake!

    • Manuel Lazo

      Just wondering why Pnoy didnt go to tacloban to initiate a prayet rally for the victims of typhoon Yolanda on its 2 yr. anniversary. It only shows that he really dont care and dont give a damn to what happened to them during this horrific calamities. And to the writer of this article, shame on you. How much did they pay you to fabricate things? Foreign Correspondents where there like the CNN reporting every details of the typhoon. Where you there at the scene? Did you watched the. report of Mr. Anderson of CNN lambasting the govt. for neglect and lack of assistance from the national Govt. Be fair enough to your writing because until now our fellow filipino are still devastated and sufferings from the calamities. Its been 2 yrs and until now they dont have decent houses to live on, no livelihood considering there are billions of pesos that the govt. received from both private and public individuals, and foreogn donations. Where did the govt. put all those money? in their pockets i guess.

      • annabanana

        That’s alright we don’t want him there either.

      • bayani bicomong

        Pinoy was attending a marriage ceremony! very busy courting the rich!

      • bayani bicomong

        Pinoy was attending a marriage ceremony! very busy courting the rich!