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Tacloban Vice Mayor says he cannot be a fence-sitter

Tacloban Vice Mayor Yaokasin is seen with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Rehab Sec. Ping Lacson during the distribution of the ESA to 1,430 Taclobanons. Photograb from the Vice Mayor’s FB

Tacloban Vice Mayor Yaokasin is seen with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Rehab Sec. Ping Lacson during the distribution of the ESA to 1,430 Taclobanons. Photograb from the Vice Mayor’s FB

TACLOBAN CITY – Vice Mayor Jerry “Sambo” Yaokasin said on Friday, November 28, that he cannot remain “silent” and just be a fence-sitter at this time when Mayor Alfred Romualdez and Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson are in a “heated exchange.”

In a post at his Facebook account, the vice mayor wrote “To All Taclobanons: I cannot stay away, be silent and “fence-sit” at this time while the heated exchange between our Honorable Mayor and Sec. Lacson continues. Our people are struggling to move on with their lives after Super Typhoon Yolanda left them homeless and hopeless. Many of their loved ones remain missing to this day. It would have been easier for me to just stay away from this “controversy”. But being the second highest elected official of the city, I cannot in my good conscience accept that I remain silent and allow the situation to worsen to the detriment of our people.”

He adds, “I am a Taclobanon. I am the Vice Mayor. And I will step up. However, I will only take the side of our people. I will never take the side of “the powers that be”. I ran as an independent and I will remain an independent. It is my hope and prayer that by reaching out to the national government through Sec. Lacson, it will hasten the release of the much needed/long-awaited assistance to the victims and survivors of Yolanda and expedite the recovery and rehabilitation of our city. God bless Tacloban!”

Yaokasin’s post comes after he stood side-by-side with Sec. Lacson and Social Welfare Secretary Soliman during the distribution of Emergency Shelter Assistance to 1,430 Taclobanons, the first batch to receive the government aid.

The vice-mayor’s “stepping up” earned both praises and brickbats from his FB friends. Some praised him for setting aside pride while others viewed it as a political move.

Ger Modesto wished him luck, but expressed doubt if “the powers that be” will hear him. “I’ve never seen a president so vindictive, arrogant and childish and is willing to turn a blind eye on the people of Tacloban because one of the powers that be is a Romualdez. If I may suggest, Sir, it’s much better if you could seek assistance from other NGOs. We all know countless of Taclobanons are fed up with this ‘power struggle’ and it’s best not to get in their childish and selfish ways.”

A “Connie”, on the other hand, had harsh words for Yaokasin. She said that he was “namamangka sa dalawang ilog” (riding a boat in two rivers)”, adding that as “vice mayor, you ought to defend and serve the people” and demand from the Aquino administration the immediate assistance to survivors.

Elnora Argota agrees with Connie. She said that if not for the “nationwide interview of Mayor Alfred charging Lacson of lying, the people in Manila will not facilitate the early release of this shelter assistance.”

Tubal Cio, on the other hand, had kind words for the vice mayor. “Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. Thank you for thinking more for the people and less for yourself.” Cio said that he knows there are many people who did not like his approaching Lacson but he was right in putting the Taclobanons’ welfare before politics.

Teacher Nariza Becher, on the other hand, said they are depressed with how the ESA is being distributed. “Sir, we, the teachers in the government are depressed about what we heard on radio, that government employees and those whose salaries are above 15k will not anymore receive this financial assistance.”

Becher said, “the donation of the whole world is for all the victims of Yolanda”, adding the reason that they can avail of loans is “painful” and unacceptable.

“Does Sec. Dinky understand the difference between the word ‘LOAN’ and ‘Financial Assistance’? Or they just refused to understand? We pay for the loan while the financial assistance is a given help by the foreign countries for us Taclobanons without any obligation of paying back.”

She added that the news that they could not avail the financial was a double whammy for them. “When I heard the news, I said to myself (that) we teachers were devastated by typhoon Yolanda last year, and again are devastated for the second time and this is much painful than the typhoon because we know how huge the amount given by the whole world was.”

She said the government thinks that teachers get a minimum pay of P 18,000 a month but this is not true because “we are paying all our loans that we had after Yolanda.”

Becher asked Vice Mayor Yaokasin that together with Mayor Romualdez, that they “will fight for this right of all Taclobanons” to get the financial assistance across the board.

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