MANILA, Philippines – Visiting the areas battered by Typhoon Nina in her home region after one week, Vice President Leni Robredo lamented the slow relief and recovery efforts.
“I think it is somewhat slow,” Robredo told reporters during her visit to Camarines Sur yesterday.
Robredo, who had been criticized for her absence during the typhoon, arrived on Monday from the United States where she spent the holidays with her daughters.
The Vice President said a barangay captain complained about not receiving any assistance except for those sent by her office that included relief goods.
“Even along major roads we still saw toppled electric posts,” Robredo said.
“It’s unusual that after eight days, only 50 percent of the affected areas have electricity,” she added.
On criticisms that her visit came late, Robredo said she coordinated relief operations while in the US.
“It’s really unfortunate that I was not here when the typhoon hit. But even if you ask my constituents, there was never a time I was not with them when calamity struck except now,” she said.
Robredo said she tried to return to the country earlier, but could not book a flight.
“It’s hard to find five tickets because I’m with my three children and 80-year-old mother. We’re supposed to return on the fourth, but the earliest we got was on New Year’s Eve,” she said.
Robredo is also set to visit Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Iloilo this week.
Reacting to Robredo’s statement, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) apologized to typhoon victims who have yet to receive assistance from the government.
“We can help remind appropriate government officials and units to respond to their needs,” Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.
She also urged the public to report irregularities in the distribution of food packs.
“Opening and repacking of DSWD food packs by local governments for distribution to affected locals is strictly prohibited,” Taguiwalo said in a statement.
The DSWD said 388,943 families or more than 1.7 million individuals were affected by the typhoon.
Some 32,000 people remain in evacuation centers. – With Janvic Mateo