Attempt to counter pro-Aquino tweet on Typhoon Yolanda backfired

August 26, 2020 - 10:58 AM
File photo of Tacloban City a month after Supertyphoon Yolanda struck in November 2013. (Bernard Testa, InterAksyon)

An LGBT rights advocate lamented the previous administration’s Yolanda efforts as a response to a tweet that compared it to the current government’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a tweet on August 24, Rey Valmores-Salinas, spokesperson of the Bahaghari National, recalled the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name typhoon Haiyan) in 2013.

“I was 15 when Yolanda struck my city. After the typhoon, I went outside my house and saw hundreds of corpses. As I walked, I saw an infant, grey and bloated, under a wall,” Salinas said.

Typhoon Yolanda is so far considered among the most powerful storms of all-time after it nearly wiped out the group of islands in the Visayas, killed over 6,000 Filipinos and displaced millions more.

This was her reaction to a tweet of online user @xtianorozco who also commented that the previous administration was better than the current one amid the pandemic.

“PNoy’s administration was never perfect pero aminin naman natin na hindi tayo ganito ka stress at anxious nung 2010-2016,” the user said.

However, Salinas later mentioned a quote from former Interior Secretary and presidential candidate Mar Roxas that she claimed was addressed to the typhoon victims.

“All that as PNoy’s admin left relief goods to rot, and Mar Roxas said: ‘Bahala kayo sa buhay niyo!'” she wrote.

She was referring to a popular 2013 video clip where Roxas made the remark to Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez in a meeting during the Yolanda aftermath.

“You have to understand. You are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino. If it’s not legalized, then OK you are in charge and we’ll help you, then that’s it… bahala na kayo sa buhay ’nyo,” Roxas was quoted as saying in the video.

The video clip, however, had since been dismissed as false information, citing that it was spliced.

Romualdez’s son, Martin Romualdez, had also cleared this up as mere disinformation in 2015.

Several Filipinos immediately called Salinas out for supposedly spreading disinformation on the micro-blogging platform.

“We all believed that spliced video ‘no? Pero dapat after almost 7 years, nakapag-research na tayo kung ano ang totoong nangyari. Let’s not fall for this kind of twisted story, it’s very irresponsible,” the user said.

Inquirer reporter Marlon Ramos also attested that Roxas never made such remarks and denounced the activist for peddling false information online.

“You still believe this lie seven years later? As an ND, I’m sure you’re intelligent and responsible enough to realize this is a big fat lie,” Ramos said.

“Mar Roxas never uttered those words. I say that with 100% certainty,” he added.

No letup

Despite being corrected, Salinas continued to stand by her earlier statement against Roxas and the Aquino administration.

“The way folks who were probably eating ice cream while my city was being ravaged by Yolanda are now saying our experience of receiving absolutely zero aid from the government plus seeing statesmen prioritize political feuds over relief is ‘DDS propaganda,'” she said.

What really happened

In 2013, columnist named Cito Beltran uploaded on YouTube a 43-minute version of Roxas’ meeting with Romualdez and other officials that provided context to their talks about rebuilding Tacloban, which was severely devastated by the super typhoon.

In the longer video, Roxas was actually informing Romualdez about taking over the rehabilitation of the province.

“You have to understand we are talking very straight here. You are a Romualdez, the President is an Aquino. So we are very careful…in just taking over because he doesn’t want anything to be misconstrued,” Roxas said.

The original video of it can still be accessed on the video streaming platform.

Based on reports, Roxas and Romualdez had misunderstandings with Tacloban’s rehabilitation efforts.

Roxas even alleged that the spliced video recording was uploaded by a relative former San Juan congressman Jose Mari Gonzales.

In 2015, the remark falsely attributed to Roxas circulated anew in the form of memes.

Remember this line: "You're a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino"?Mar Roxas: "You have to understand you are a…

Posted by Makibuwaya on Wednesday, December 23, 2015


During the national elections in 2016, Roxas ran against President Rodrigo Duterte for the presidency and his running mate was now Vice President Leni Robredo.

The younger Romualdez then issued a statement that Roxas “did his honest best and risked his life” during the rehabilitation efforts for Tacloban.