After scarcely a day had passed, Malacañang has a swift retort to Iloilo Vice-Governor Suplico, as reported by GMANews.TV:
Palace denies relief goods for Iloilo will be used for politicking
06/28/2008 | 11:23 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Saturday denied that it was withholding the distribution of relief goods for typhoon stricken Iloilo province until the arrival of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the United States.
Cerge Remonde, head of the Presidential Management Staff, assailed Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico for his alleged insinuation that the goods would be used for “politicking.”
“Di totoo ‘yan, paninira naman ‘yan. Kilala natin sino si Rolex Suplico. Si Rolex Suplico, isang oppositionist obstructionist na walang magandang nasasabi sa administrasyon. Maybe it’s about time we ask him as vice governor, as a local official anong ginagawa niya sa disaster na ito,” Remonde said on government-run dzRB radio.
(That’s not true, that’s a demolition job. We know who Suplico is. Suplico is an oppositionist obstructionist. He has nothing nice to say about this administration. It’s about time we ask him what he has done for his people as vice governor)
He reminded Suplico that in times of calamity, local officials should be more responsible than national government officials in taking care of constituents.
Earlier this week, a Malacañang statement said Mrs Arroyo would send off planeloads of relief goods to areas hit hard by typhoon “Frank” (Fengshen) upon her return from the United States on Monday.
President Arroyo will also head for Iloilo on Tuesday and hold the weekly Cabinet meeting there.
Remonde said Suplico should know that all government agencies were doing everything to help Iloilo.
He said officials such as Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, TESDA Director General Augusto Syjuco, and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap went to to province to help the victims.
National Food Authority administrator Jessup Navarro is also on standby there, according to Remonde.
“How could he say that? Yan si Rolex talaga sana… in time of disaster like this isantabi niya ang malisya (How could he say that? In times of disaster like this, Rolex should stop issuing malicious statements),” he said. – GMANews.TV
One can say that disaster politics is traditional politics by other means. A simple question of helping our less fortunate countrymen has turned into a political tug-of-war on who will be given credit for spending public money on the disaster. There is also the political finger-pointing at who are responsible or not responsible for the floods. The Sulpicio Lines owners (whose sunk ship Princess of the Stars casualties will be Frank’s signature) started it this time. They blamed nature, Pagasa, the typhoon, the ship’s captain, Coast Guard, and everybody else but themselves for the tragedy of their ship’s sinking.
The incumbent politicians can do no less. Iloilo provincial administrator Mejorada said illegal logging and mining had nothing to do with the floods since the volume of rains simply overwhelmed the province drainage system. Local DENR and other minor functionaries faithfully echoed his statement. He may be partly correct since Frank really induced the southwest monsoon to inundate Panay that fateful June 21. However, such a sweeping statement does not do credit to the role that illegal logging and mining in bringing flash floods from the mountains to the Iloilo plains. At the very least, he should be open to an investigation on the matter.
It is well-known in the province that several incumbent and past mayors are involved in illegal logging of the province’s watersheds and some had been charged in court. There had been warnings that the unfinished Iloilo flood control project will ironically add to the flooding. The indiscriminate mining of gravel and sand, particularly for the new Iloilo airport, had also been pointed out before as endangering the capacity of the rivers to delay or obstruct flash floods.
At any rate, Frank promises to be one of those defining issues in the coming 2010 national and local elections.