Survivors of Typhoon ‘‘Yolanda,’’ the deadliest tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines that left more than 6,000 dead in November 2013, have underscored the need for leaders who will be able to respond quickly and with compassion in times of disasters.
For Lottie Salarda, a 26-year-old award-winning journalist from Tacloban City, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez showed leadership and “malasakit” even as his own family bore the brunt of the super typhoon.
Salarda said Romualdez, who is running for senator in the May 9 polls, was “the man who never left us after Yolanda.”
“He’s a man of few words, but he is doing his job,” Salarda said.
“The first district of Leyte is very lucky that they have this kind of leader who never left them during hard times, unlike other elected officials who never showed even their shadows after typhoon Yolanda. I just hope that he can serve other Filipinos, too,” she added.
In her book “Humans of Haiyan: 24 stories; 24 Months After The Disaster,” Salarda recognized the efforts of Romualdez by dedicating the book to the solon.
“Of all the government officials, it was only in him that I saw sincerity in service that really reached the grassroots. I felt his concern. It was genuine,” she said.
“His acts as a serving politician changed my old perception. He’s not that typical politician who is hungry for media mileage. He just served from the heart and this was noticed by the common people,” she wrote in her blog.
Salarda said two weeks after the super typhoon struck, she returned to Tacloban City and saw how Romualdez remained on the ground, helping the survivors.
“When I returned to Tacloban to check my cousins two weeks after, I still saw him and his staff doing relief operations and medical missions in communities whose access to medical services were limited,” she said.
Romualdez has pushed for several bills that ensured effective and efficient government response in Yolanda-hit areas, including measures seeking to provide tax incentives for the relief and rehabilitation of devastated communities covered by a state of calamity as well as appropriating P25 billion for the aid, relief, rehabilitation and livelihood services along with infrastructure support for Yolanda victims.
Fellow Yolanda survivor Thad Hinunangan also expressed support for Romualdez’s senatorial bid.
“I think he would be a good addition to the Senate,” said Hinunangan, who was then a third year student at the Romualdez-owned RTR Medical Foundation when Yolanda struck.