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Palace insists politics didn’t affect relief, rehab efforts in Tacloban

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Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang insisted on Wednesday that there was no politics involved in providing aid to victims of supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan), maintaining that the focus now would be to help them get back on their feet.

But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma did not say why Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had to remind Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez about his family’s political relationship with President Aquino’s at the height of the relief operations in Leyte.

“Discussions like that, the tendency is to focus on personalities,” he said in Filipino. “Our focus now is on the program…the attention of the government is on the implementation of immediate reconstruction and recovery programs.”

Coloma could not say if President Aquino shared Roxas’ contention that the Tacloban mayor should “be careful,” he being a “Romualdez” and the Chief Executive being an “Aquino.”

“He expressed no opinion on that,” Coloma said. “The focus of the President and the entire Cabinet now is finalizing the recovery and reconstruction program, the critical and immediate actions that are needed.”

Roxas earlier insisted that the President was “being very careful in just taking over [Tacloban] because he does not want anything to be misconstrued.”

Coloma said there would be time, upon the completion of the region’s rehabilitation, for the government to “look back on how to improve the process” in responding to disasters.

“The primary consideration of the government is providing assistance to our people,” he said.

“There’s a right time, when we are no longer preoccupied with recovery and reconstruction efforts, when we could revisit events in the hope that the conflicts would no longer be repeated.”

Malacañang announced on Wednesday, the release of P238.6 million to the National Housing Authority for the construction of permanent houses for poor families hit by supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

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