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‘Pnoy was invited’

Tacloban mayor: No response to invite; Palace insists he wasn’t

CONTRARY to Palace claims, President Benigno Aquino III was officially invited to the ceremonies in Tacloban City marking the second anniversary of Typhoon “Yolanda,” which killed more than 7,000 people and devastated Eastern Visayas in November 2013.

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez  on Wednesday  confirmed that the President was invited as early as Oct. 27 or 12 days before the second anniversary of the Yolanda tragedy.

President Benigno Aquino III, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez
“The Palace did not RSVP,” Romualdez told The Standard.

The President drew flak for skipping the Tacloban rites to attend a wedding in Pasay City of business tycoon Andrew Tan’s son Kester on Nov. 8, but a spokesman said he did not go because he was not invited.

But in a letter to the President obtained by The Standard, Romualdez invited the President to one of the most important events, the unveiling of the Astrodome Memorial marker on Nov. 8 at the Tacloban City Convention Center.

It was at the Astrodome where thousands had sought refuge and were saved from the killer storm surge.

“Knowing your continuing concern for all of us victims who fortunately survived this tragedy, I shall greatly appreciate your being with us once again on this commemorative occasion,” Romualdez said in the letter.

“On November 8, 2015, the City of Tacloban commemorates the second anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda in memory of our fellow Taclobanons who lost their lives during this horrendous disaster,” Romualdez’s letter said.

“May we look forward to your presence – most especially during the unveiling of the Astrodome Memorial marker on Nov. 08, 2015 at Tacloban City Convention Center,” the mayor said.

Romualdez attached a schedule of activities on Nov, 7 and 8 to his letter.

In a radio and TV interview, Communications Secretary defended Aquino, saying he was not ivited.

“First of all, I checked with the Appointments Office. No invitation was received by the Office of the President,” Coloma said.

“The President and the government continue to implement comprehensive rehabilitation program for building more resilient communities. Actual implementation of rehabilitation programs is the government’s primary focus,” he added.

Coloma said Aquino did not intend to skip the commemoration rites to avoid meeting Mayor Romualdez, who has been critical of the slow pace of the administration’s relief and rehabilitation efforts.

On Nov. 8, three hours before the President was supposed to unveil the marker, Romualdez and his cousins senatorial candidate Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led an hour-long commemorative walk from city hall to the Astrodome Memorial Ground.

They were joined by the mayor’s wife Cristina, United Nationalist Alliance standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay, UNA senatorial candidates Alma Moreno, Jacel Kiram and Rey Langit, independent senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino, vice presidential candidates Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Gregorio Honasan, Binay’s running mate.

Despite Romualdez’s letter, the Palace insisted  Wednesday  that it received no invitation, but said it would continue to help victims of the tragedy.

“As of today (Nov. 11), Office of the President records do not include an invitation to Nov. 8 commemorative program, but we do not regard this as a significant factor as it has no bearing on the government’s commitment to rebuild the lives of affected families,” Coloma said in a text message to The Standard.

“It is best that we move forward and work harder to ease the burdens of our people in the calamity areas,” Coloma also told The Standard.

Coloma also said the government continues to work on implementing post-Yolanda rehabilitation programs beyond the commemoration of the second anniversary of the severe calamity that has afflicted thousands of Filipinos.

“We continue to work together with organizations and individuals that believe in the objective of building back disaster-resilient communities,” he said.

On Wednesday, congressman Romualdez urged the government to provide potable water to Yolanda survivors, who continue to be deprived of the basic necessity two years after the killer storm.

After two years, thousands of survivors are still without permanent shelter and have no potable water and electricity, said Romualdez, who was in Tacloban over the weekend for the commemoration of the 2013 tragedy.

“Instead of the reported plan of the government to build a P48-billion seawall in Tacloban, the earmarked funds might as well be used in providing Yolanda survivors with potable water,” he said.

“May we look forward to your presence—most especially during the unveiling of the Astrodome Memorial marker on Nov. 08, 2015 at Tacloban City Convention Center,” the mayor said.

Romualdez attached a schedule of activities on Nov. 7 and 8 to his letter.

In a radio and TV interview, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. defended Aquino, saying he was not invited.

“First of all, I checked with the Appointments Office. No invitation was received by the Office of the President,” Coloma said.

“The President and the government continue to implement comprehensive rehabilitation program for building more resilient communities. Actual implementation of rehabilitation programs is the government’s primary focus,” he added.

Coloma said Aquino did not intend to skip the commemoration rites to avoid meeting Mayor Romualdez, who has been critical of the slow pace of the administration’s relief and rehabilitation efforts.

On Nov. 8, three hours before the President was supposed to unveil the marker, Romualdez and his cousins senatorial candidate Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. led an hour-long commemorative walk from city hall to the Astrodome Memorial Ground.

They were joined by the mayor’s wife Cristina, United Nationalist Alliance standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay, UNA senatorial candidates Alma Moreno, Jacel Kiram and Rey Langit, independent senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino and vice presidential candidate Gregorio Honasan, Binay’s running mate.

Despite Romualdez’s letter, the Palace insisted  Wednesday  that it received no invitation, but said it would continue to help victims of the tragedy.

“As of today (Nov. 11), Office of the President records do not include an invitation to Nov. 8 commemorative program, but we do not regard this as a significant factor as it has no bearing on the government’s commitment to rebuild the lives of affected families,” Coloma said in a text message to The Standard.

“It is best that we move forward and work harder to ease the burdens of our people in the calamity areas,” Coloma also told The Standard.

Coloma also said the government continues to work on implementing post-Yolanda rehabilitation programs beyond the commemoration of the second anniversary of the severe calamity that has afflicted thousands of Filipinos.

“We continue to work together with organizations and individuals that believe in the objective of building back disaster-resilient communities,” he said.

On Wednesday, congressman Romualdez urged the government to provide potable water to Yolanda survivors, who continue to be deprived of the basic necessity two years after the killer storm.

After two years, thousands of survivors are still without permanent shelter and have no potable water and electricity, said Romualdez, who was in Tacloban over the weekend for the commemoration of the 2013 tragedy.

“Instead of the reported plan of the government to build a P48-billion seawall in Tacloban, the earmarked funds might as well be used in providing Yolanda survivors with potable water,” he said.

Topics: Tacloban , Typhoon Yolanda , Mayor Alfred Romualdez , Pnoy
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