A RANKING member of the Catholic clergy on Wednesday slammed Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II for his “shameful” portrayal of himself in a comic book as the hero during Super Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda’’ in 2013.
“In conscience, I need to belie this hypocritical claim of Mar Roxas claiming to be a hero in the emergency response,” said Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Church.
Gariguez said the comic book, being distributed as part of the Roxas campaign, was “shameful and unacceptable propaganda.”
“We need to bring truth and decency in our electoral process,” he added.
The prelate was referring to a 28-page comic book, “Sa Gitna ng Unos (In the Midst of Disaster)” commissioned by unnamed Roxas supporters featuring the life and times of the administration bet, and highlighting his actions in Tacloban City when the killer typhoon struck.
Lipa Archdiocesan Social Action Center director Jazz Siapco said the comic book was “misleading.”
“He [Roxas] is not a hero. I would consider those who have helped silently in their own little ways the heroes. They are the real heroes,” Siapco said.
Yolanda survivors on Wednesday urged voters to junk Roxas for showing no remorse for his “criminal neglect” during the onslaught of Yolanda.
They held Roxas accountable for the more than 6,000 deaths due to his inaction and slow response as Interior and Local Government secretary at the time.
People Surge, an organization of Yolanda and disaster survivors, said Roxas deserves to be thrown in jail for criminal neglect.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said Roxas remains out of touch with reality for portraying himself as a hero during Yolanda.
“Mar has spoken about the Yolanda comic book and remains unapologetic despite public outrage. It reflects the kind of leadership we can expect if he becomes president,” Reyes warned.
“He refuses to apologize for the lies contained in the comics. He maintains that the events depicted were real. He continues to ignore the victims’ protests. He just doesn’t get it. Then and now, he remains out of touch with reality, preferring to live in his make-believe world where government can do no wrong. More than ever, we urge voters to junk Mar to spare the nation from another six years of yellow delusions,” said Reyes, referring to campaign color used by President Benigno Aquino III and Roxas.
People Surge secretary-general Marissa Cabaljao said the Yolanda survivors found the comic book “revolting.”
“They did a deliberate twisting of history to do a grand cover up [of their] criminal negligence,” she said. “It is revolting how the Aquino clique could resort to [such] a deception.”
Cabaljao lambasted the Roxas camp for being “insensitive to the enormous sufferings” of the typhoon victims.
She said that instead of helping Roxas, the comic book merely added to his sins against the Yolanda survivors.
During the last presidential debate, she added, Roxas was already trying to wash his hands of the slow response to the disaster, saying the funds had been channeled through local government units.
But still, he could not account for how the P200 billion in Yolanda funds were used.
“Roxas must stop his irritating defense on his performance before, during and after Yolanda. His presence is not something to brag about for despite his deployment in Tacloban City a day before the typhoon, he failed to preempt the massive deaths of thousands,” Cabaljao said.
Cabaljao also questioned Roxas’ Christian values for continually not showing acceptance, remorse and repentance for his and the administration’s criminal neglect of disaster victims and survivors, and for resorting to relentless denials and deception.
“People Surge calls on the public to never forgive nor forget his sins against disaster victims and survivors,” she said.
Cabaljao challenged the voters to not yield to political maneuvers, favors and threats from traditional politicians.
“These coming elections, we must cast our votes against Aquino’s anointed successor Roxas. We must be critical in choosing the right candidates against those pretentious ones who tried to capitalize on the Yolanda issue such as the inutile former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson. We must pursue accountability and one sure step is to put Aquino and his cohorts in jail,” Cabaljao said.
Reacting to the Roxas comic book, presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe said there should be no place for lies in the government.
Roxas’ spokesman, Akbayan Party-list Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez, on Wednesday said Roxas never claimed to be a hero.
“His statements on Yolanda have always been straightforward, factual narratives of what he directly experienced in the two weeks he worked at ground zero. If this is in reference to the comics, we have repeatedly clarified that those were not produced, distributed, or approved by the campaign, but by supporters,” he said.
On Tuesday, Roxas praised and thanked the unnamed supporters who were responsible for producing and distributing the comic book. The Liberal Party has not named the supporter responsible for the comic book, however, and the illustrator said on his Facebook page that he was commissioned to do the job. He added that he was a supporter of Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. With Macon Ramos-Araneta
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