Looking back on Mar Roxas grilled on CNN with Andrew Stevens

November 8 marks the 4th year anniversary of the Super Typhoon “Haiyan (Yolanda)” disaster that almost wiped out  the City of Tacloban on the map of the Philippines and killed over estimated 6,300 people in 2013.

Looking back, during the disaster happened in Tacloban City, it created fiascos not only for  the victims but also for the government officials who were assigned to aid, specially for the relief.

One of the remarkable circumstances happened was when Mar Roxas, Philippine Interior and Local Government Secretary,  was grilled in an interview with Andre Steven, Anchor/Correspondent at CNN international, because of his response to CNN a day after CNN called out the Philippine Government for its slow relief effort

“no response will be good enough.” Mar told the network.

Andrew criticized the effort that the then Government was exerting to aid the victims in storm-ravaged Tacloban City and said that it was ineffective and inefficient 6 days after the Typhoon Haiyan disaster.

“The entire force of the government is looking after our people here." Roxas said.

“You know, Andrew, nothing is fast enough in a situation like this. The point is everything we have, if this were a gun, all bullets are being deployed. If this is a fire hose, all hoses are being deployed. Slowly, as we’re clearing the streets, we’re able to reach the people in the interior. Imagine a situation where from zero – no power, light, water, communication – you have to build the social infrastructure as well as the physical infrastructure for 275,000 families,” he added.

Andrew reiterated the slow relief effort of the government which should have been premeditated before this Tremendous typhoon hit the Philippines.

He also added that the promise help before the storm did not happens quickly enough.

“In our doctrine or our framework, the local government unit is the first responder. The national government is supposed to come in on day two or three to support that. What happened is that the local government unit not just here in Tacloban but in many of the communities in Leyte was basically, literally swept away.” Mar responded to Andrew’s statement.

“We are at the [Tacloban] airport, the staging post for relief supplies. I get asked for water. My crew gets asked for water every day, several times a day. If you can’t supply water here…” Andre said.

In response to the water supply issue that Andrew raised, Roxas said that the government brings all the water bottles to the warehouse of the Social Welfare Department, then distributes it to communities.

“What you see here is multiplied a thousand times by all the other localities inside.” Roxas said.

One more reason why Stevens blurted out his statement was because of the decomposing bodies he had been seeing everytime he traveled in the city that still remained untouched.

“Let me just correct that. They are not the same bodies. Every day, we pick up the bodies. I myself led a pick-up, a cadaver recovery team yesterday and the day before.” Roxas quickly responded.

Stevens told him, “With respect, I see the same ones.”

Roxas went on. “They might look like they’re the same because they’re the same-looking body bags. The point is what’s happening is we pick up along the main road all the bodies.”

During the disaster in Tacloban, several CNN reporters and other journalists observed that there seemed to be no one in charge.

“Is there an effective chain of command, is there coordination? Do you think you have the right structure in place to deal with this? From where I’m sitting it seems to be uncoordinated, it doesn’t seem to be working nearly efficiently enough.” Steven asked.

Roxas responded to Steven’s question, “Every effort, there’s nothing as big or as fast in a situation like this. It’s chaotic. There’s no baggage tags. All the supplies just come in in unmarked boxes. Yes, it’s very easy for 700 body bags to get lost. Nonetheless as of yesterday, the army and the local city already have 500 body bags they’re deploying.”

“Surely, you need to override bureaucracy in this situation.” Stevens commented at one point.

During that time, days after Haiyan hit Tacloban City, The death toll increased to over 2,000 and was expected to increase.

In order to survive, residents of Tacloban begged for food and water while some were forced to loot.

Malacañang approved Proclamation No 348 and was announced to media on Wednesday morning, saying that the holiday is meant to commemorate the "persons who perished and survived super typhoon Yolanda, and highlight the resilience of its people."

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