MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said criticisms of the government’s response to successive typhoons were just political intrigues.
“Pamulitika yan, sa totoo lang (That’s just political intrigue, really). That’s a political punchline, ” Duterte said in response to a reporter's question on allegations that the government had been slow to respond to the disasters that hit the country recently.
In a press briefing during his visit to Camarines Sur, the President said that even before the typhoons hit the country, food aid and rescue equipment had already been pre-positioned in areas that were likely to be hard hit by storms.
Duterte also defended local government units from criticisms that they were caught flat-footed by the storms, saying local officials were prepared for the disasters.
Critics had called out the President’s alleged absence during successive calamities, with the #NasaanAngPangulo trending on Twitter during super typhoon Rolly and typhoon Ulysses.
But Malacanang defended the President, saying Duterte is "always with us."
Duterte meanwhile also told the Department of Budget to expedite the release of funds for disaster relief following the devastation brought by successive typhoons in the country.
Duterte visited Camarines Sur on Sunday together with members of his cabinet and said he wanted the budget for disaster relief for local government units released quickly.
“Kindly move faster kasi kailangan ng tao (because people need it),” Duterte said during the briefing with Camarines Sur Governor Migs Villafuerte, Congressman LRay Villafuerte and other local officials.
Budget Assistant Sec. Kim Robert de Leon said the agency was prioritizing the release of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund to local government units, and expects to have the funds released to LGUs within a week’s time.
The Bicol region was badly battered by super typhoon Rolly on Nov. 1. Ten days later, it was again lashed by typhoon Ulysses on Nov. 11.
Before going to Camarines Sur, Duterte first stopped by Cagayan province which suffered massive flooding because of Ulysses.