MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III apologized to a Hope Christian High School student from Tacloban City for the slow government response to super typhoon Yolanda.
Aquino conceded the response could have been faster but maintained the national government was prepared for it. He said the typhoon was just overwhelming.
He fielded questions from three students who have transferred to Hope from Tacloban.
He also explained why he left Tacloban after just three days when he initially vowed to stay there till the work is done. Aquino said he thought he had already ironed out the kinks in the government’s handling of the crisis.
Aquino left for Manila the same day the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) of lawmakers.
Aquino assured them the government did everything it could.
Aquno also sidestepped a question on whether he was blaming the local government, led by Mayor Alfred Romualdez who belongs to the Romualdez-Marcos clan, which is a political rival of the president’s own family.
Meanwhile, Aquino thanked the Asian Development Bank for its assistance in handling the Yolanda disaster.
In a speech, Aquino said, “In the aftermath of the storm, the ADB reached out to our government and to the Filipino people—in a sense, clearing paths through the rubble, and showing us where we could pick ourselves up and continue to journey towards inclusive
“I am told that the assistance you are giving us, in the form of loans and grants, is expected to exceed one billion dollars. On top of that, you set up an office in Tacloban City to coordinate the use of funds, and to give guidance to our various local governments. The Filipino people will not forget the kindness you have shown us—whether in the aftermath of Yolanda, or in the wake of previous disasters. The ADB provided our country grants after the massive mudslide in Southern Leyte in 2006. And you helped in our people’s crisis recovery efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009.”
He also thanked the ADB for its assistance in building the country’s economy.
“From 1966 to the end of 2012, your organization has loaned our country more than 13 billon dollars—money that has gone to vital infrastructure projects—whether it be roads, airports, or power plants. I am also told that, right now, you are our 6th largest source of Overseas Development Assistance, with your overall net commitment reaching more than 833 million dollars.”