Roxas delivers checks for Yolanda-hit barangays in Panay

ROXAS CITY, Philippines – Checks were handed over to various local government units (LGUs) of 3 Panay provinces on Saturday, June 13, almost 18 months after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged through the Philippines.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who was among the Cabinet secretaries who headed post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts in the immediate wake of the storm, visited Capiz, Aklan and Antique on Saturday, June 13, to personally hand over checks for phase two of the government’s Recovery Assistance on Yolanda (RAY).

The first phase of RAY covered facilities owned by cities and towns while the second phase will focus on barangay (village) infrastructure damaged by the strong super typhoon. Some 1,638 barangay facilities – amounting to over P438 million – in the 4 Panay provinces were destroyed in the wake of Yolanda.

Napakahalaga po nito dahil halos lahat ng serbisyo ng pamahalaan – halimbawa yung pag-injection, pag-inauguration, halimbawa yung mga programa ng DSWD at iba pa – ginaganap ito sa mga barangay facilities,” Roxas told reporters in Roxas city.

(This is important because the government’s basic services – for example when you need an injection, you need to inaugurate something, the programs of the Social Welfare department, among others – those happen in the barangay facilities.)

 

According to the interior department, the 54 cities and towns of Panay island will be given at least P238.6M in 2015. 

Roxas said the breakdown of funds for rehabilitation efforts in the Panay region is roughly as follows:

Speaking off-the-cuff after all checks were handed over to the local government units of Capiz province, Roxas reassured officials – local chief executives and barangay captains – that the national government would see them through rehabilitation efforts.

This was after the interior chief overheard one barangay official that the funds being turned over were not that huge.

“The funds may still be wanted, or it might be enough but you can trust that we will never desert you,” Roxas said in the local Hiligaynon language.

Work continues

Although Roxas’ visit to Panay was devoted to post-Yolanda recovery efforts, it was difficult to avoid talks of the 2016 elections. Roxas is the presumptive standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), although he was yet to declare his plans for 2016.

On Friday, June 12, President Benigno Aquino II praised Roxas for his dependability in a speech during Independence Day celebrations in nearby Iloilo. 

"Like in the past, we know that whenever we task Mar Roxas to lead a project or program, you can expect that initiative will succeed," said Aquino.

"Sa dulo nitong lahat, sa kabila ng lahat nung istatistika ay tao, pamilya na nangangailangan, na marahil nawala na ang lahat. Ang pinanghahawakan nalang niya yung kanyang pag-asa na hindi siya nakalimutan ng kanyang pamahalaan. Kaya ako naman ay todo-bigay," Roxas later told reporters, when asked about Aquino's seeming endorsement. 

(At the end of it all, beyond the statistics are people and families who lost everything and are in need. And they cling to the hope that the government will not let them down. That's why I'm giving my all.)

The interior secretary, who previously said he was “ready” to continue the Aquino administration’s work, thanked the President for trusting him but added that much more needs to be done.

Nagpapasalamat ako sa malinaw na tiwala na pinagkaloob sa akin ng Pangulo. Ako naman ay tinatanggap ko ito bilang inspirasyon, bilang hamon na lalong magpatuloy at ipagpatuloy yung mga magagandang nasimulan na. Hindi naman lingid sa kaalaman ng ating mga kababayan na malayu-layo na ang narating natin,” Roxas said.

(I thank the President for his trust in me. It’s inspiring but also a challenge for me to make sure that the gains we started continue. Our fellow Filipinos cannot deny that we have come a long way [under the Aquino administration].)

Roxas added, “hindi naman ito perfect—wala namang perfection, hindi pa ito perfect pero malayo na ang narating natin. Marami na ang nagawa natin at kung magpatuloy tayo dito sa Daang Matuwid ay mas malayo pa at mas madami pa ang magagawa natin.”

(It’s not perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect but we’ve come a long way. We’ve been able to achieve a lot of things and if the Straight Path continues, we’ll be able to do even more.)

On November 8, 2013, Yolanda cut through several regions in Visayas, with the brunt of its force felt in the Eastern Visayas region. It is among the worst disasters to happen in the country, and became controversial over accusations that the government did not do enough in its aftermath.

Roxas was one of the two Cabinet secretaries who was tasked by the president to oversee preparations before the super typhoon made landfall. Alongside the defense and social welfare secretaries, Roxas would lead immediate relief operations from Tacloban city, which was brought to its knees by Yolanda.

2016 fever

Aquino and the LP have yet to formally announce Roxas as their anointed candidate in the coming elections, but party stalwarts have already declared support for Roxas.

Local executives in the Visayas – the Panay, Negros, and Cebu islands – are pushing for Roxas as well. The President is set to announce his anointed candidate by the end of July, or after his last State of the Nation Address.

A presidential run is a long time coming for Roxas, who was support to gun for the country’s top post in 2010. In late 2009, he slid down in favor of Aquino, whose win was bolstered by the death of his mother, EDSA Revolution icon and former president Corazon Aquino.

Roxas lost to Vice President Jejomar Binay, also a family friend of the Aquinos, despite leading vice presidential surveys in the run-up to the elections.

Binay is now leading early preference polls, but it’s a lead that neophyte senator Grace Poe is threatening to overtake.

In contrast, Roxas has been lagging behind in nationwide surveys but his allies are banking on the President’s endorsement to boost his numbers. – Rappler.com