Manicad: Report of incompetence in handling of Yolanda fund is not 'fake news'

By Ben Rosario

Administration senatorial bet Jiggy Manicad chided Saturday the camp of former Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas for boasting of Sen. Panfilo Lacson's exoneration of the former senator in connection with the misuse of billions of pesos in typhoon Yolanda funds, saying that Roxas must still deal with serious accusations of incompetence and negligence on the part of the Aquino administration.

Administration senatorial bet Jiggy Manicad (RIO LEONELLE DELUVIO / MANILA BULLETIN) Administration senatorial bet Jiggy Manicad (RIO LEONELLE DELUVIO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Roxas, a member of the opposition Otso Diretso senatorial team, has cited Lacson's statement that “fake news” have shrouded the truth about the misuse of public funds for Yolanda rehabilitation.

Manicad countered that while this may be partly correct, the public should be reminded that “incompetence and negligence of government response during the crisis” turned Yolanda’s devastation for the worse.

It will be recalled that Manicad led the TV broadcast which first penetrated airwaves after Yolanda hit the Visayan region.

"Kasama kami ng mga taga-Leyte nung rumagasa ang bagyong Yolanda. We thought we were going to die. We were the first and only network to go live then,” he recalled.

He said the Yolanda victims suffered more when government failed to respond immediately to the devastation, adding that reporters have already known that the biggest typhoon on record was coming.

“Surely, alam din 'yan ng DILG. Bakit nagkulang pa rin tayo sa agarang pagsuplay ng tubig, kuryente, pagkain pagkatapos ng bagyo?" the Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial candidate said. (The DILG was also aware. Why was there lack of water supply, electricity and food immediately after the typhoon passed?)

On Thursday, Caloocan City ‘Rep. Edgar Erice, Roxas' spokesman, boasted Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s statement exonerating Roxas the alleged theft of Yolanda funds, saying that this belied "fake news" on the issue.

Lacson, who was appointed as rehabilitation czar, cleared Roxas' name in the purported misuse of funds meant to reconstruct the towns most badly-hit by the typhoon in Eastern Visayas.

However, Manicad insists that the public must not forget the real ineptitude displayed by the government in the aftermath of Yolanda.

"One could clearly point out the lack of structure and coordination. It took days sometimes just for bodies to be picked up, for some areas to receive water. Nagnanakawan, nagkakasakitan na ang mga tao," Manicad lamented.

"With due respect to former Sec. Mar, 'yun naman ay hindi fake news. Tanungin niyo na lang po 'yung mga taga-Leyte," he quipped.

The multi-awarded journalist, who for two decades was assigned to cover crises in the country and overseas, also called on the government to "heed the lessons of Yolanda" in preparation for future natural disasters that could be aggravated by climate change.

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