MANILA - Malacañang denied Thursday that President Aquino rebuffed Tacloban businessman Kenneth Uy in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.
Uy, 41, scion of a rich Chinese-Filipino family whose interests include rice mills and hotels, was the man who President Aquino allegedly rebuffed when he was cited as a victim of a shooting incident because of the looting and violence that ensued after the Yolanda tragedy.
“Eh buhay ka pa naman, di ba (You’re still alive, anyway),” the President reportedly told Uy during the Nov. 10, 2013 meeting.
Uy stayed in Tacloban after the tragedy. He succumbed to a heart attack last July 16, 2015.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said that according to the transcript, the President's words were taken out of context and that he was addressing the issue raised by another person.
He said the President was merely pointing out that it was not true that people were being slaughtered at that time.
"Kailangan natin ituwid ang record hinggil diyan. Ayon sa transcript ng pagpupulong na 'yun, unang-una, hindi tuwirang tinukoy o kinausap ni Pangulo si Ginoong Uy. Ibang pangalan ang naka-record doon sa transcript. Pangalawa, ang konteksto ng kanyang sinabi ay doon sa tanong ng nagtatanong sa kanya doon sa open forum, mayroong premise na parang the people are being slaughtered, may mga ganoon. At ang sinabi lang ng Pangulo, hindi naaayon sa kongkretong reyalidad ang statement na 'yun. Isa nga sa pruweba noon, ikaw na kabilang doon sa in general na tao na sinasabi mong subjected to 'slaughter,' nandyan ka pa naman," he said.
"Siguro doon sa retelling ay naging 'Buti ka pa buhay ka pa,' parang ganoon. Pero kung tutunghayan natin ang transcript wala namang ganoong pangungusap at out of context naman ang ipinaparatang na sinabi. Pwedeng maunawaan ang buong konteksto ng pinga-uusapan kung tutunghayan ang transcript at mayroon ding video record 'yun. Kaya't hindi makatuwiran, hindi makatarungan at hindi makatotohanan ang paratang na 'yan."
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 also shed more light on the incident.
Based on the transcript obtained by The Philippine 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."
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. With a report by The Philippine Star.
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