MANILA - Malacañang clarified yesterday that President Aquino did not “scoff” at late Chinese-Filipino businessman Kenneth Yu Uy during his visit to Tacloban, Leyte after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
When informed of the rampant looting and violence that ensued after the tragedy, the President supposedly told Uy, who was reportedly a near victim of a shooting incident, “E buhay ka pa naman, di ba (You’re still alive, aren’t you)?”
A copy of the transcript of the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) briefing with local officials and other national agencies held on Nov. 10, 2013, however, seemed to show a different story.
Based on the transcript obtained by The STAR, Jeff Manibay, convenor of the civic group One Tacloban, attended the NDRRMC meeting and claimed that the government had inaccurate information on the impact of Yolanda.
“As we speak here, our people are being slaughtered downtown,” Manibay told the President.
An unidentified man belied the allegation, while another claimed to have been shot prior to the meeting.
To this, Aquino replied, “You’re alive, so you weren’t slaughtered. (But) you were saying (our people are being) slaughtered… When you say things like that you are causing undue alarm to everybody else. There are already concerns with their food, there are already concerns with their water, their medicine,” the President said.
Aquino also noted that the national police and the military had sent and brought in their personnel to help address the situation.
But Manibay, who introduced himself as a staffer from CAT8 Television, called on the President to declare martial law, citing the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the US, during which he said the declaration of martial law came “late.”
“It’s a war out there. Hindi po ninyo nakikita. Nandoon po kami sa gitna (You don’t see it, we were in the middle of it)… I hope we don’t make the same mistake. Malayo po ang data ninyo, mas malayo (Your data are way off the mark),” he said.
The President said he would take Manibay’s suggestion into consideration, even as he pointed out that “statements like that… increase the anxiety of everybody else.”
There was no indication based on the transcript that Aquino ever addressed Uy during the meeting.
BINAY CONDOLES WITH UY KIN
Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay extended his condolences to the family of Uy, who succumbed to a heart attack last July 16.
“I extend my condolences to the family of Mr. Kenneth Uy. An ordinary man would have easily surrendered to the tragedy that befell Tacloban, especially after witnessing firsthand the callous initial response of the national government to Super Typhoon Yolanda summed up in two expressions now familiar to Filipinos: ‘Buhay ka pa naman, di ba?’ (You’re still alive, anyway) and ‘Bahala kayo sa buhay niyo (You look out for yourselves),’” Binay said.
“Yet Mr. Uy, like thousands of ordinary Taclobanons, persisted despite the odds and a manhid at palpak (insensitive and inept) national government. They held their heads high, keeping their dignity and self-respect despite the dehumanizing conditions in the resettlement areas,” he added.
Uy was among the few who reopened their businesses as soon as possible to bring back normalcy and hope to the battered city.
He opened the doors of Asia Stars Hotel to relief workers and his bakery to sell “yolandisal,” the dough that had to be manually rolled and pressed, to hungry Taclobanons. – With Helen Flores
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