TACLOBAN CITY—Opposition lawmakers and a mayor on Sunday reminded the Palace and the Senate to stop the mudslinging and politicking and concentrate instead on helping rebuild the lives devastated by typhoons Yolanda, Sendong and Pablo and the Zamboanga siege.
“It is not worth it. Politicking started very early this election season and the right time for it is during the campaign. I am urging them to wait for their time,” Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said.
“Meanwhile, they should prioritize the people, especially those who need their time and attention.”
Marcos, along with his cousins Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, and Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado Revilla took turns in reminding President Benigno Aquino Jr. and the Senate to concentrate the last months on implementing projects that could ease poverty and create jobs.
“We don’t want the people to lose faith in the government. It has been a roller coaster for them for one year after Yolanda ruined their lives,” Alfred Romualdez said.
“They are now trying to rebuild and build back better their lives. We all have to help them. We have to look back and see how much work we have done so far, but the Senate has been distracted”
Marcos said the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should refrain from doing too much politicking, referring to the ongoing hearing on Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family on the corruption charges against them.
Martin Romualdez said the President had better give priority to the projects that could be finished within his last few months in office.
“Perhaps the President is really pushing for a second term by wanting to transfer the Tacloban airport to Palo,” Martin said.
“The President had better improve first the airport named after his father because that airport has been declared one of the worst airports in the world.”
“Political mudslinging started very early. We have not progressed as well as we wanted to because of politicking,” Marcos said.
He said it was not surprising that politicking came early and the vice president should have expected that. He cautioned his colleagues against being preoccupied with politics and mudslinging “We have to help our people affected by the typhoon and the Zamboanga siege to pick up the pieces,” Marcos said.
President Aquino said the study on the new airport was shown to him after Yolanda’s onslaught.
“In a two to four meters storm surge, lulubog kaagad ‘yung airport. Si airport naman ang pagdadalhan natin ng initial na, ‘di ba, si doctor, si relief, si communication,” Aquino said.
Lahat ng wala—‘yung bumagsak ‘pag nagkaroon ng event, airport ang pinakamabilis. Pero ‘yung airport mo guaranteed isa sa unang babahain at ‘pag binaha ‘yan lilinisin mo. So habang binaha, hindi puwedeng landingan.
Habang nililinis, hindi rin puwedeng landingan. So kailangan na nating ilipat ito kasi [ang] alternative gagawa tayo ng seawall.”
But Rep. Romualdez disputed the President’s claim and said the Tacloban airport was already operational 24 hours after Yolanda flattened Eastern Visayas.
“All aircraft from other countries, big and small, used the Tacloban airport to bring in relief goods, medical equipment and personnel-volunteers. What delayed the use of the airport was the clearing of debris but it was cleared of debris in 24 hours,” said Romualdez, the leader of the House’s Independent Minority bloc.
The mayor said even closing down the Tacloban airport was not “well thought out” since there was no consultation made before it was decided to be closed to air traffic.
“It’s really sad that that’s happening now because even one airline alone like Zest Air Asia, they don’t have small planes. They are losing about 24,000 passengers a month,” the mayor said.
“And for other airlines that used to fly in, they are losing close to 100,000 passengers a month.”
The businessmen and tourists had to fly in and out of Tacloban via Cebu.
“I feel that was not thought out properly. I feel that they should have collected all materials and gathered all the equipment necessary before deciding to shut down the airport. It was poor planning,” the mayor said.
He said the government should have expected that the airport was deteriorating very fast and that the first couple of weeks and months after Yolanda, all those passengers and cargoes
coming in, it was really over-using the runway. That should’ve been predicted and planned,” he said.
“Basically, what I’m saying is that I’m not against the transfer of the airport, I’m saying that we don’t come to make rush decisions. We have to look at that very carefully because it will affect not only the economy in billions of pesos,” the mayor said.
“Especially now, and the problem now when you make that announcement, it is now an excuse not to rehabilitate the airport and now we are having a problem here, because we want the (local) economy to pick up and move on. We’re talking about resilience, and what is really resilience? It is to bounce back better.”
In fact, the mayor said, they feared that the promise to expand the tarmac for Pope Francis was not going to happen anymore.
“They’re not expanding it because they are using now as an excuse and they’re saying now we are not going to spend a single centavo anymore at the airport because we have plans of transferring the airport,” he said.
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