MANILA - Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez on Thursday accused the national government of grandstanding for turning over 122 houses to Yolanda survivors in Tacloban exactly one year after the super typhoon hit the country.
Speaking to ANC, Romualdez said he purposely did not go to the turnover of the housing units in Ridge View Park, Barangay Cabalawan and Villa Sofia, Barangay Tagpuro last November 8.
"Bakit natin minamadali yung turnover kung lahat yan hindi pa naman tapos, yung 100? Dapat nandun na yung mga recipient. Pangalawa, masyado nang epal ito e. Sa dami dami, pag natapos ang sampu pwede ba i-turnover na natin? Pag natapos ang beinte, pwede ba i-turnover na tayo? Bakit pa tayo maghihintay ng November 8? Para mag photo ops dun?" he asked.
The mayor said he felt bad about the turnover because the National Housing Authority would be blamed for the lack of permanent housing units for survivors of super typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban one year after the disaster.
He said the city would need 14,500 new houses for the survivors.
Romualdez said the NHA has been looking for ways to find land and build new homes for the survivors.
He said that if he showed up for the event, the media would start focusing on the houses and ask questions. Instead, he sent his city administrator as well as the head of the shelter cluster of Tacloban.
"I don't know of any organization doing ribbon-cutting on that day. I thought I was doing the national government a favor," he said.
The mayor said that instead of attending "another ribbon-cutting", he decided to spend the day remembering the dead of Yolanda.
He said he felt saddened that the national government did not commemorate the event by honoring soldiers and policemen who died during the storm.
"Nalungkot din ako. I was expecting the national government to do a special memorial to honor all the military men who died,. all the piolice who were ther and all the bureau of fire. They were heroes. In fact, five Bureau of Fire people died. Imbes na bigyan sila ng honor, pinatrabaho pa sila. Sana sayang. Sana hindi na natin ginawa ito. Wag na yang mga ribbon cutting, mga ganyan," he said.
Romualdez denied that he is politicizing the rehabilitation efforts, adding that all the politicking is coming the national government.
He denied backing a protest rally during the Yolanda anniversary, adding that he does not know the protesters.
However, the mayor also clarified that the protest rally did not break the law since freedom of speech is a constitutional right.
He said rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson even called the protesters "subversive", "belly-aching" and "tamad (lazy)."
He twitted Lacson for saying that the national government spent P6.1 billion in projects for Tacloban, saying none of that money passed through the local government.
"He used the term I am hijacking the rehabilitation construction. That is a very powerful word and I don't like that," he said.
"I don't believe that (P6 billion). It is very difficult to check because the money did not go through us."