TACLOBAN CITY- City Mayor Alfred Romualdez flatly denied allegations that he was behind the series of street protests against the national government in the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda.
Romualdez said that it was not his style to instigate people in staging a rally against the government, or against any one for that matter, saying that it would not help address the problems facing storm victims.
Earlier, rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson named Romualdez to be behind the protest rallies against the national government staged in Tacloban.
The former senator and once the chief of the nation’s police agency said that he already informed President Aquino on this bit of information.
“As a mayor of Tacloban, I am faced with a huge task of rebuilding our city. I simply have no time to engage in rallies and other political activities. After Yolanda, you have seen me bring our collective concerns directly to the national government,” Romualdez said in a media interview.
“While I respect and recognize their right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, I don’t hide behind the rallyists, that is not my style and not definitely the solution to the problem of Tacloban,” the city mayor added.
For several times now, the People Surge, a coalition of different groups whose members were storm victims, staged series of protest rallies in Tacloban, considered to be the ground zero of Yolanda.
The group has demanded, among others, continued assistance of food items; granting of P40, 000 financial assistance and the non-implementation of the no-build zone policy.
The People Surge had also called for the resignation of Secretaries Corazon “Dinky” Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Rogelio Singson of the Public Works and Highways; Jericho Petilla of Energy; Mar Roxas of the Interior and Local Government and Lacson himself.
Efleda Bautista, one of the leaders of the People Surge, also denied that their rallies have the support and encouragement of the Tacloban city mayor, adding that Lacson is again playing an old trick while he was top security officer.
“We were already tagged as ‘pawns’ of the New People’s Army. Now our rallies are allegedly backed by the Romualdezes. What else is new to this insensitive, callous and heartless government,” she said in a separate interview.
Bautista, a former dean of now defunct Divine Word University, reminded Lacson that no less than the Constitution guarantees the staging of rallies as a venue of the people seeking redress for their alleged grievances against the government.
“Rallies are guaranteed by our Constitution; that is a right to express the grievances of the people. For so long as the people feel aggrieved you will see the surge to the streets,” she stressed.
“We are devastated not only because of the havoc brought by Yolanda to our lives. Even more aggrieved we are with the governments’ criminal negligence and the continuing denial of our existence and needs. The petition of more than 17,000 survivors for the P40,000 cash assistance and other demands we submitted to the office of the President was never given any importance nor urgency until today,” Bautista said. (RONALD O.REYES)