BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Mar Roxas does not care if people misinterpret his silence as victims of Typhoon Yolanda celebrated the second anniversary of the devastating November 8, 2013 super typhoon that killed more than 6,000 people in Eastern Visayas.
I can’t do anything if people do not accept silence as my own way of giving respect to the victims, said Roxas, who was also flogged by critics for boycotting events for the Yolanda tragedy.
Roxas as then Interior Secretary was in-charge of rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of Yolanda that also rendered thousands homeless.
Roxas and President Benigno Aquino, two years after the tragedy, continue to get severe criticism from victims, Eastern Visayas political leaders and senators and congressmen including foreign aid donors, for allegedly mishandling the rehabilitation efforts.
Roxas, who has resigned his post to run as standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party in the 2016 elections, was a no show at the center of the celebration in Tacloban City in Leyte which suffered the most from Yolanda that also ripped though other Visayan islands.
Roxas, along with Aquino, skipped the ceremonies prepared for them by local leaders led by Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romuladez, who earlier slammed Roxas for mishandling his job as “Rehab czar.”
Aquino was reported to have opted to attend a wedding in Pasay City instead of responding to an invitation to attend the anniversary celebration.
Roxas was criticized for not commiserating with the grief of the victims by not giving a statement on the day of the commemoration.
Staying silent is my own way of giving respect, he said in a lame excuse to parry off the criticism.
He said he could not care if people would not accept his style of honoring the victims with silence.
“If they accept it, then it’s good. If they don’t, then I can’t do anything about it anymore,” said Roxas in a report in Kicker Daily.
Had Aquino and Roxas joined the Tacloban commemoration, they would have found themselves in an embarrassing situation of seeing protest rallies organized by victims assailing the slow flow of rehabilitation funds blamed on the government.
Roxas being skewered on the chopping block by critics over Yolanda is the second recent fatal assault on the LP presidential candidate already lagging poorly in pre-poll surveys behind front-runners Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and independent bet Senator Grace Poe.
Last week, Roxas stirred a hornets’ nest among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) when he said he was unfazed by the threat of Migrante, the group espousing rights of the 2.3-million strong overseas workers community, to launch a campaign to scuttle his presidential bid.
The threat came as Roxas said OFWs are to blame for their arrest for bringing bullets at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), where many OFWs have fallen victims to the “lag-lag bala” syndicate.