TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Senator Bongbong Marcos arrived in Tacloban City to offer assistance to the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) on Sunday, November 17.
The extent of the damage, he said, is almost impossible to believe. “They have nothing. They have no homes, they have no water, they have nothing,” he said during a visit to the City Hall.
Marcos, the only son of former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos – herself born and raised in Leyte – said that he chose to arrive later in the disaster’s aftermath so as not to get in the way of current relief efforts. (READ: Imelda Marcos to Warays: don't lose hope)
“We did not want to come because if we had come we would have taken up resources and assets that were sorely needed at the time. You know if you come here, somebody will have to secure you, you will have to have a vehicle, you will have to have a place to stay, they will have to feed you. In the first few days they simply did not have those capabilities so we got out of the way and let people do what they can.”
Marcos also said that he spent the last 8 days in Manila coordinating relief efforts funded by private donors given to the donation centers in Manila. The Marcos family brought a ship and most of their supplies in Surigao. There is congestion in the relief efforts, and his family is attempting to decentralize relief efforts to reach those in far-flung areas.
Watch Rappler's interview with him below.
He has been to Tanauan just outside Tacloban City, one of the hardest hit municipalities whose people until now is pleading for more aid.
His visit coincides with the second visit of President Benigno Aquino III to Leyte's provincial capital in the aftermath of Yolanda. The President and the Senator belong to rival political clans: the Aquinos and Marcoses.
Not the time for criticism
Marcos is unwilling to comment on criticism that the government has been too slow and uncoordinated in responding to the typhoon’s devastation. Assessment can come later, he said. Eventually those in charge will have to admit to shortcomings. For now, assisting the victims is of primary importance.
The senator said: “Could we have done better? Sure. Do we need to do more? Certainly. But this is not the time for all of these finger-pointing. This is the time to put our heads down and help the people who are suffering."
He said his mother weeps every day for her hometown, and is desperate to come herself. After he’s seen what is left of their home in Leyte, Marcos said it may have been a good idea for his mother to stay behind.
“She is heartbroken now already."
The family is committed to Leyte’s long-term rehabilitation. They are now looking at the long-term response to the disaster.
“We came from here, we live here, this is our home. Until our home is put back to its proper condition there’s no way we can step back,” he said. – Rappler.com