More than a year after typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) ravaged the central part of the country, Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres spoke out on why she thinks help had been too slow to arrive for the survivors who lost everything in the calamity.
In an interview with Esquire Magazine, Torres said the national government took its time in helping Yolanda victims because it wanted everything to be perfect.
“I think the intention to help was there. I don’t discount that. It’s just— and I say this honestly with no ill will to anyone—maybe the urgency. They did not take that into consideration. It (the help) took awhile because they wanted the rehab to be perfect. As perfect as it was in their minds maybe, and unless they could ensure that, they didn’t want to roll out the machinery,” she said.
In the aftermath of a calamity as dire as Yolanda, Torres said the most important thing people needed was instant relief, which the government failed to provide immediately.
“There were areas where it took weeks [for food to arrive] because they were scared of one town having more than the other, but, maybe what they forgot was that in a crisis, you don’t find it in yourself to be selfish because… you just see how much the next household is suffering and I felt then that for help to be felt, it had to be en masse,” she recalled.
Although she had witnessed the aftermath of the 1991 flash flood that hit Ormoc, Torres said her experience dealing with what happened after Yolanda was different because she was already a congresswoman when it happened.
“When Haiyan happened, the burden was just so much greater. Because then you had an entire district looking to you for helo and on the ground, they don’t differentiate the executives from the legislators. For them, you’re connected to government, so you can help,” she said.
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