SUPPORTERS of administration candidate Manuel Roxas II are circulating a comic book portraying him as the hero and savior during Super Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ in 2013, but survivors and critics slammed the depiction as “a fairytale,” given the government’s failure to deliver timely and effective assistance in the storm’s aftermath.
Distributed by Roxas supporters during the birthday celebration of a political ally in Imus, Cavite, on Sunday, the 28-page comic book “Sa Gitna ng Unos (In the Midst of Disaster)” features the life and times of the administration bet, and highlighted his actions in Tacloban City when the killer typhoon struck.
But Yolanda survivor Marissa Cabaljao said the comic book was a revision of history.
“That he came out with that comic book shows how desperate he is to show that he actually did something,” Cabaljao told The Standard in Filipino. That is far from the truth and reality that what he did and did not do resulted in the death of thousands of people. This was criminal negligence. He is cleaning his name and washing his hands of the tragedy.”
In the days following Yolanda, the administration came under fierce criticism for its slow response to the typhoon, which killed more than 6,000 people, left 1.9-million homeless and destroyed 90 percent of the structures in Tacloban and other cities in the Visayas. Five days after the typhoon struck, survivors continued to struggle with basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter while remote towns in Leyte and Samar had yet to be reached by aid.
But the comic book depicted Roxas in glowing terms, saying he was one of the first who responded before, during, and after the storm.
“Even Mar nearly lost his life at the onslaught of the Yolanda,” the comic strip said, adding that no communication lines and electricity were available during the time that Yolanda ravaged Eastern Visayas.
“Mar was at the middle of the depressing scenario,” the comic book said.
It also attacked Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez for partying the night before Yolanda struck, and said a video that showed him reminding him that “You are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino” had been spliced to make him look bad.
But Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said portraying Roxas as a hero of the Yolanda survivors was “a gross misrepresentation of what happened in Eastern Visayas... and a clear whitewashing of the government’s incompetence and criminal negligence.”
He added that the Roxas’ revisionism was “a grave insult to the victims of Yolanda.”
1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said the more Roxas tries to fool the people and show them he thinks they are stupid, the more he will lose their support.
“It’s ridiculous and it will bring him down more,” Bello said.
“The whole nation witnessed how incompetent he was in handling the Yolanda crisis. No amount of propaganda can resurrect him,” he added.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said: “The people of Eastern Visayas know the truth and they have decided to junk him in the polls.”
Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Roxas should “stop the fairy tales.”
A spokesman for presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte described the comic book as “comical.”
“It is a fantasy,” said Peter Laviña, Duterte’s spokesman.
In defense of Roxas, the comic book said “numbers cannot lie,” referring to the P4.012-billion budget earmarked by the Aquino administration for recovery efforts.
The comic book also said Roxas was unfairly put in a bad light after another photo of Roxas sliding off a motorcycle at the height of Typhoon ‘‘Ruby’’ went viral on the Internet.
The comic book reiterated Roxas’ statement that he had been kept out of the loop during the ill-fated Mamasapano police operation that killed 44 police commandos, even though he headed the Interior and Local Government department at the time.
The comic highlighted Roxas’ wedding to Korina Sanchez, and how they opted for a simple wedding so they could donate P3 million to victims of tropical storm ‘‘Ondoy.’’
The comic did not mention Roxas’ stint as Transportation secretary, however, or the problems that plagued Metro Manila’s urban train system under his watch.
Roxas’ spokesman, Rep. Barry Gutierrez, said the comic book was “made by his supporters” to belie the mounting critricism against the ruling party’s bet.
“The comic book was made by supporters who wished to inform our countrymen of what Mar did during Yolanda,” Gutierrez said.
“This was made due to the continued spread of lies about his deeds. Dramatization is an important part of the medium. We have long shown the truth about Mar’s actions in Yolanda. His record is clear, and we stand by it,” he added. With Rio N. Araja
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