MANILA, Philippines – A Palace spokesman on Thursday defended President Benigno Aquino III from criticism that his visit to flood-affected residents in Central Luzon came late.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Chief Ricky Carandang said Aquino was initially advised not to visit the flood-ravaged provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac amid the forecast of another impending weather disturbance “Ramon.”
“Nung tumama yung [typhoon] 'Pedring', sinabi na ni Pangulo sa kanyang mga tao na ayusin na para makapagbisita siya. Pero ang advice sa kaniya, may parating na bagyo na Ramon. Ang unang abiso sa kanya, hayaan munang lumampas ang isang bagyo na susunod, kasi baka mas lalong magkagulo if you go there,” he said in an interview on radio dzMM.
Typhoons Pedring and Quiel ravaged Northern and Central Luzon last week, leaving 76 people dead and causing damage worth P9.437 billion.
A third storm, "Ramon", dissipated before it could cause any damage last Monday.
Aquino earlier drew flak for not being “too visible” during the onslaught of typhoon Pedring last week.
The president’s visit to the hard-hit provinces of Tarlac, Bulacan and Pampanga pushed through Wednesday.
Carandang maintained that even if the president was not visible in the relief operations of the government, he had remained on top of the situation.
He added that it was always the habit of Aquino to visit disaster-hit areas.
“How many storms have we had, bawat bagyo bumibisita naman talaga si Pangulo. Talaga namang bumibisita siya para tignan yung kalagayan ng mga taong nasalanta,” he said.
“Hindi naman tamang sabihin na hindi niya style yon. Kasi talagang pumupunta siya. Nagkataon lang na para sa ilan medyo huli lang ang pagpunta niya nitong time na ito. Kasi malaki yung bagyo, dalawa yung sunod-sunod. Ang feeling ng mga bumabatikos dapat mas maaga daw siyang nagpakita.”
Carandang assured the public that the administration will always do its best in dealing with typhoons in the future. He said the government does not mind receiving criticisms.
“Para sa amin, gagawin lang namin ang dapat gawin, at makikita naman ng tao kung ginagawa namin o hindi o kung nagpapa-pogi lang o hindi,” he said. “Bahagi yan ng demokrasya natin, tanggap natin yan.”