President Benigno S. Aquino III poses with pupils of the newly repaired classrooms of Guiuan East Central School in Barangay 8, Poblacion, Guiuan during the visit to the province of Eastern Samar on Friday (November 07). It was in Guiuan where super Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest typhoon ever recorded, made its first landfall on November 08, 2013. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III poses with pupils of the newly repaired classrooms of Guiuan East Central School in Barangay 8, Poblacion, Guiuan during the visit to the province of Eastern Samar on Friday (November 07). It was in Guiuan where super Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest typhoon ever recorded, made its first landfall on November 08, 2013. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 7 (Mabuhay) — President Benigno Aquino III on Friday lashed out at his critics anew as he visited Eastern Samar to commemorate the first year after ‘Yolanda,” the strongest and deadliest typhoon to hit land.

In his speech, Aquino slammed those who keep on saying that the government’s response to the areas devastated by the disaster was slow and the assistance given was not enough.

The President stressed the difficulty of feeding a total of 1.47 million families who were displaced when Yolanda struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013.

He also noted that Yolanda came as the country was still reeling from the devastating effects of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol, and the siege of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga last year.

“Isipin po ninyo sa usapin na lang ng relief goods. Kapag nagpakain kayo sa bahay ninyo, sabihin na natin sa isang pamilya 5 ang miyembro… Dumating bigla ang mga kamag-anak mo, biglang 10 na ang pakakainin mo, kakayanin mo pa rin yan. Sabay natunugan ng mga kapitbahay mo na sa inyo may pagkain, magiging 15 o 20 na ang pakakainin mo. So siyempre po darating ang punto na pahirap ng pahirap,” he said.

“Eh isipin ninyo kayo lumagay sa gobyerno. Talagang ang husay siguro ng isang tao na mapapasaya at mabubusog lahat ng darating sa kanyang tahanan. Eh tayo ho ba ilang pamilya ang kinailangan nating sabay-sabay na mabigyan ng pagkain at agarang mga pangangailangan? Uulitin ko lang po ha: 1.47 milyong pamilya,” he added.

Yolanda claimed the lives of at least 6,300 people and injured 28,000 others. About 1,000 individuals remain missing a year after the onslaught of the super typhoon.

The President said the government is after long-term solutions and not just quick fixes to make sure that the same tragedy will not happen again in the future.

“Hindi natin hahayaan na makulong tayo sa siklo na tinatawag na destruction, tapos reconstruction, tapos destruction ulit, tapos reconstruction ulit. Yung sakunang paulit-ulit na pwede namang maiwasan, wala hong matutuwa,” he said.

That is why, he stressed, he continues to reject calls to just give Yolanda survivors P40,000 financial assistance. He said that cash will not last long to address the needs of the victims.

“Tama bang magpa-pogi na lang ako, abutan na lang natin lahat ng pamilya, ‘Ito cash, bahala ka na sa buhay mo?'” he said.

“Ang ating bawat hakbang kailangan pinagaaralan, pinagpaplanuhan at pinaghahandaan.”

“Gaya po ninyo, naiinip din ako. Pero kailangan po natin idiin na hindi pwedeng idaan sa bara-bara ang ating ‘build back better,'” he added.

Aquino said his conscience would not let him face another day if the typhoon victims would again be devastated by another disaster.

“Hindi ko mahaharap ang sarili ko. Hindi ko rin ho mahaharap ang mga magulang ko. Kaya sige, murahin na ninyo ako, batikusin ninyo ako. Pero kailangan gawin natin ang tama,” he said.

He said he is already leaving it to God to help enlighten his critics of what his administration has done for the typhoon victims.

WHAT HAS BEEN DONE

According to the President, the government has done everything it can to address all the needs of the typhoon victims, which includes providing them food, clothes, shelter and livelihood assistance.

He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has distributed about 12.2 million family food packs, also with the help of non-government organizations (NGOs).

He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has provided livelihood assistance to about 33,000 people, while about 21,000 have graduated from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s (TESDA) vocational education and training programs.

Farmers have also been provided with seeds and fertilizers while fishermen have been given about 30,000 boats, he said.

He also said schools being built in Yolanda-hit areas are expected to be finished by June 2015. Over 6 million textbooks are also expected to be distributed.

He said government has also fully rehabilitated three airports and 14 ports damaged by the massive typhoon. He said government also plans to relocate the airport in Tacloban, which was one of the worst hit areas.

“Hindi naman po kalabisang sabihin na ang agarang kinailangan agaran din nating tinugunan. Buong pwersa ng gobyerno, kasama ang ating mga katuwang sa pribadong sektor, ibinuhos po talaga ang lahat ng magagawa para sa mga apektadong lugar,” Aquino said.

He thanked the private sector for contributing P12.98 billion for Yolanda recovery efforts. He also thanked the United Nations (UN) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for recognizing the government’s rehabilitation efforts despite the magnitude of Yolanda.

LESSONS

The President said the country, by now, should have learned its lessons from Yolanda.

“Sakaling dumating ulit ang matinding sakuna, hindi na dapat maulit ang paghihirap na dinanas ng ating mga kababayan. Nabigyan na dapat sila ng lakas at kaalaman. Dapat gamitin natin ang ating natutunan upang hindi na maulit ang ganitong kabigat na trahedya,” he said.

He said more still needs to be done, and his bosses — the Filipino people — should continue to take the “tuwid na daan” and cooperate with each other to build back a better and more resilient country.

Aquino believes the country will be able to fully recover from the tragedy.

“Kapag nga lumilingon ako sa pinanggalingan natin at tinitingnan ang ating narating na, talaga naman pong lalong lumilinaw sa akin: Nangyayari ang pagbabago. Nangyayari ang pagbangon,” he said.(MNS)