No disconnect between PNoy, Yolanda victims: Palace

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2014 03:46 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2014 11:46 PM

MANILA - Malacañang assured victims of typhoon Yolanda of continued assistance while disputing a reported statement from People Surge that President Aquino is not in touch with the situation of the survivors.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said government is "doing everything" that it could to rehabilitate the affected communities.

"Is there a disconnect? I don't think so. We have a lot of government resources that have been devoted to reconstruction, rehabilitation. There are some demands that they have that which we would like to look into. And government is looking into some of the things that they are looking into, for instance, they want reconstruction, we are doing that," Lacierda said.

He said Aquino was not being insensitive when the latter effectively dismissed their protest action in Manila complaining about the slow pace of the reconstruction efforts.

"Baka dapat huwag na lang akong magkometaryo dahil tila naasikaso nilang pumunta dito, puwede naman sigurong maasikaso 'yung pangkabuhayan nila doon," Aquino had told reporters Thursday.

"I think the actions of the President have shown that he is anything but insensitive. From the very first report of the devastation, from the first day and even prior to that, we were already concerned about what the typhoon 'Yolanda' will bring about or the results, expected results of typhoon 'Yolanda', and for that reason, he came on national television to immediately warn the people," Lacierda said.

"After that, you already saw the… full resources of government being plowed into the affected areas."

Responding to People Surge's criticism of the government's response, Lacierda said reconstruction will take a long time even as he described the criticism as a "political statement."

"The President has already mentioned that 'Yolanda' is a priority for us. This is not going to happen overnight. This is going to take years of reconstruction and rehabilitation," Lacierda said.

The Palace again thumbed down a proposal to give a P40,000 financial assistance to calamity victims, saying it prefers to give them long term help such rebuilding homes and helping them find employment.

"We have a reason why it is better to give them homes rather than give them money. We would prefer to give them employment rather than give them P40,000. We'd rather give them the tools to fish rather than just give them the fish," Lacierda said.