KOMENTARIAT.COM: TRANSCRIPT OF CNN INTERVIEW  WITH SECRETARY MAR ROXAS

ALSO: THE ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW FROM THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES (WWW.GOV.PH)

BLOG WATCH, NOVEMBER 18, 2013 (KOMENTARIAT.COM) BY KOMENTARIAT - On government efforts in the wake of typhoon Yolanda - (My (KOMENTARIAT) comments in red.) Copied from the Official Gazette - [November 14, 2013]

ANDREW STEVENS: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for joining us. I have been walking around this town for four or five days. You and I are both here.

SECRETARY MAR ROXAS: That’s right. You are here from the storm itself.

STEVENS: I am hearing growing hunger on the streets about the government response. People are feeling like they are being left, they have not been supported by the government.

SEC. ROXAS: Well through your network, I can assure our people and the whole world that the entire force of our government of President PNoy is looking after our people here. You know, if we had set aside gallons or pales (sic – gov.ph needs sharper eyed proof readers) of water, it just turns out that need is that of a swimming pool. So what was a garden hose is now a fire truck’s hose and we are doubling this everyday. And this should now accelerate as days go by (the excuses come hard and fast, right out of the gate. First Excuse: THE SITUATION IS WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE).

STEVENS: So obviously (OBVIOUSLY), you couldn’t handle the initial response. But even today, we are now on the sixth day (shameless plug: someone else called him out for his bullshit before today), we are at the airport, we are the staging post for relief supplies, I get asked for water. My crew gets asked for water everyday, several times a day. If you can’t supply water here…

SEC. ROXAS: There’s no municipal water supply. All the water that is available are in bottles that are brought in. This is brought to the warehouse of the Social Welfare Department from which it now goes to all the communities from the interior. This, what you see here is multiplied a thousand times by all the other localities inside (this is a tactic that often works with local journos. Emphasize the magnitude of the problem; leave it at that; and the local journos fill in the blanks with understanding and a sage ‘yeah, I know that feel bro’ nod).

STEVENS: Is the situation under control?

SEC. ROXAS Yes, I would say that it is.

STEVENS: Are you saying that the relief efforts are now working as effectively and as efficiently as they could be (the disbelief practically jumps out at you, even from just the text)?

SEC. ROXAS: You know, Andrew, nothing is fast enough in a situation like this (Second Excuse: NO ONE CAN DO ENOUGH, SO QUIT YOUR WHINING). The point is everything that we have, if this is a gun, all bullets are being deployed, if this is a fire hose, all hoses are being deployed. And slowly, as we are clearing the streets, we are able to reach the people in the interior (Second Excuse, corollary: BUT LOOK, WE’RE CATCHING UP). Imagine a situation where from zero, no power, light, water, communication—nothing, you have to build the social infrastructure as well as the physical infrastructure from 275,000 families (remember that tactic I pointed out earlier? Here it is again. But Stevens ain’t biting…).

STEVENS: But this is immediate response. Surely you knew the storm was coming, we all knew the storm was coming. We knew it was going to be perhaps one of the most intense storms we’ve ever seen. The president said on the day before the storm arrived that Manila stood by, ready to support everyone. From my view, that didn’t happen quickly enough.

ROXAS: Well, as I said, nothing is fast enough in a situation like this. In our doctrine or in our framework, the local government unit is the first responder. The national government is supposed to come in on Day 2, Day 3 to be able to support that. What happened is that the local government unit, not just here in Tacloban but also in many communities in Leyte, basically, was literally swept away (First Excuse, corollary: Things are worse than we expected, AND SINCE WE PUT ALL OUR EGGS IN THE LGU BASKET, HERE WE ARE IN THIS CLUSTERFUCK) . So there was…

STEVENS: But there was emphasis for central government to provide immediate resistance.

SEC. ROXAS: That;s right. That’s why on Day 1, on zero plus Day 1 (which means the day AFTER the storm, not “as soon as possible,” hence Roxas’ quick correction), we were able to open the airport. On Day 2, we opened the roads to the airport. And now here we are, Day 6, all the municipalities are now accessible by land (Stevens lets this non-answer pass, but only because he wants to use it as a launch pad for another line of questioning. Ahh, so you say the roads are passable … what are you doing with that situation?).

STEVENS: I travel to the city everyday. I have been. Everyday, I have been passing the same bodies on the street. What I want to know is you are trying to reassure the people. The people are living wherever they can. They are still living next to these decomposing corpses.

SEC. ROXAS: Let me just correct that, they are not the same bodies. Everyday, we pick up the bodies. I, myself, led a pickup, a cadaver recovery team yesterday and the day before so…

STEVENS: With due respect, I see the same ones.

SEC. ROXAS: They may look like they are the same because they are in the same looking body bags (a sly insult, if you think about it. No one in his right mind would say that the “same” bodies are on the ground if all they can see are body bags. Obviously, Stevens was referring to bodies he could actually see and identify from day to day). The point is what’s happening is as we pick up along the main road, all of the bodies in the interior are then brought out. So the next team, there’s two rounds everyday, the next team then goes and picks it up. Last night, when I left here the airport, at around 11 or midnight, as I was going out, there’s another batch of bodies, which are now being picked up again by the same cadaver recovery team.

STEVENS: When will the roads be cleared? When will the stench of death actually stopped (again with the proofers) being apparent in the city, next to major staging post. There are still what I can say are about 20 to 30 bodies just nearby.

SEC. ROXAS: Well, you know Andrew, let me give you our situation. Right now, we have 20 trucks operating, We split that in half. One half is at food delivery, one half of that is in clearing the streets, and a quarter, meaning one half of that one half is in cadaver recovery. That’s what we have (Second Excuse alert. This also begs the question: After six days, you only have 20 trucks here?).

By tonight, another ten trucks are supposed to arrive and then after that, those organized by the private sector is also coming in to help us (government can only deploy 30 trucks???). So every asset, moving asset, physical asset that is being brought here, genset, etc. are being deployed as fast as we can to where it’s needed and that’s all we can do (the irony of reassuring the people and then confessing to an overwhelming helplessness).

Stevens: What is the death toll now and what do you expect it to be having been a part of this devastation?

SEC. ROXAS: It’s going to be horrific, Andrew (it already is, Mr. Secretary). The actual number reported by the Office of Civil Defense as of last night is 1,668. But that’s, I think, understated because there are still many towns that have not sent in complete reports. And out of the 40 towns of Leyte, for example, only 20 have been contacted. So there’s another 20 towns with no communication (even assuming that those other twenty towns report a minimum of 1,668 dead, that brings the death toll to 3,336. That’s a smidge over the 2,500 so generously allowed by previous official pronouncements, yes?). Now that the roads have been opened…

STEVENS: How much are we talking about there in 20 towns, roughly how many hundreds of thousands of people?

SEC. ROXAS: The population of the entire Leyte province is about a million and a half. About three to four hundred thousand of that is in Tacloban, the big city, including Palo. The rest of it is spread out on the other areas.

STEVENS: Okay, so horrific…

SEC. ROXAS: It’s going to be be a high death toll. I don’t wanna go into just throwing out numbers. It’s gonna be high but what I can do, and I wanna take this opportunity (pivot alert) and ask help from the rest of the world. We appreciate all the help that has come in, but what we need right now are medicines for community-borne diseases like leptospirosis, anti-typhoid medicine, anti-tetanus medicine, and that sort of thing.

We don’t need so much doctors, although we appreciate all the doctors, nurses that have come here. But we have the medical personnel (I wonder what his basis for saying this is. In a hospital setting, the ideal patient to nurse ratio has been reported at 1:5. In a hospital. In the field, in a calamity area, will that ratio go up? Is the ratio any better for doctors?) . It’s the supplies, bandages, trauma kits, hygiene kits, tents. All of the homes, you can see all the first 4 kilometers down the coast, every home for a kilometer and a half deep down the coast have just been swept away.

So we’re gonna need tents. We’re gonna need gensets to be able to power up the government offices, the hospitals, the water-pumping stations (not necessarily in that order, right, Mr. Secretary?), those are the kind we need.

STEVENS: Are you saying the international community has not responded as generously as it should be (baiting Roxas? LOL)?

Roxas: No, we’re very, very grateful for all the help that has come in, even countries that normally don’t respond, that we don’t see like Canada (awwwwwkward… fact check) or Israel, the others are here and we appreciate this very much. All I’m trying to do is if you’re going to send help, I’m trying to match the help that’s coming in with what I see on the ground is the need.

STEVENS: Let me tell you a story I heard yesterday from the mayor of this city. He said that we ordered and asked for 700 body bags from the central authorities in Manila. Evidently, these body bags in Manila never turned up here. No one knows where they are.

My question to you is, is there an effective chain of command here? Is there a coordination? Do you think that you have the right structure in place to deal with this? Because, again from what I’m seeing, it seems to be uncoordinated. It doesn’t seem to be working nearly efficiently enough.

ROXAS: Again, as I’ve said, every effort, there’s nothing as big or nothing as fast in a situation like this (Second Excuse alert). It’s chaotic. There are no baggage tags. All the supplies just come in in unmarked boxes (there’s that ‘implicit plea for understanding’ tactic again). So, yes it’s very easy for 700 body bags –I don’t even know about that (which only proves Stevens’ point, doesn’t it? That the efforts are largely uncoordinated and very inefficient) — to get lost (QED, Mr. Senator). Nonetheless, as of yesterday, I know that the army and the local city already has 500 body bags that they’re deploying. So those body bags are gonna be found and we’re gonna need more. And there’s more that’s coming in from the central office (Second Excuse, corollary).

STEVENS: Do you think martial law should be declared here? I know curfew is now in place.

ROXAS: Well, even the curfew, you know the curfew is de facto, not de jure (another tactic that usually works with local journos. Throw a few latin phrases at them, basically to impress upon them that there are legal issues at play, and – especially in this country where lawyers are considered almost divine – that they shouldn’t inquire too much because, you now, you’re not lawyers). Because the city council cannot get a quorum because they themselves are victims (overall, notice that he didn’t answer the question. Roxas simply pounced on the curfew and side-stepped the issue of whether the national government could intervene).

STEVENS: But surely (surely) you need to override bureaucracy in the light of this situation.

ROXAS: No, which is why it is de facto (huh???). It’s in place even if there is no technical paper legalizing it (yes, that’s what de facto means, but …) . It is de facto (you said that already). The PNP is enforcing it. We have brought in 1,000 additional PNP from outside of Leyte and Tacloban to be able to augment the forces here (pivot, and STILL unresponsive).

I’ll give you an example, Andrew. Tacloban police station has manpower of 293. On Day 1, that is Saturday, only 20 showed up. They’re all victims. They’re swept away. They’re victims themselves. Their houses were swept away. They’re looking for their loved ones. Today, as of last night, the count is 50. So that’s why people from the outside had to be brought in (this isn’t an example relevant to the question of a declaration of martial law. It is a riff on the second excuse and the emphasize extent of problem + plea for understanding tactic).

STEVENS: Alright (subtext: fuck this). So we’re gonna have to leave it there.

SOURCE OF THIS COMMENTARY (IN RED) THE KOMENTARIAT BLOG

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HERE IS THE ORIGINAL TRANSCRIPT FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL GAZETTE

WWW.GOV.PH/2013

Transcript of the CNN interview with Secretary Mar Roxas: On government efforts in the wake of typhoon Yolanda

[November 14, 2013]

ANDREW STEVENS: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for joining us. I have been walking around this town for four or five days. You and I are both here.

SECRETARY MAR ROXAS: That’s right. You are here from the storm itself.

STEVENS: I am hearing growing hunger on the streets about the government response. People are feeling like they are being left, they have not been supported by the government.

SEC. ROXAS: Well through your network, I can assure our people and the whole world that the entire force of our government of President PNoy is looking after our people here. You know, if we had set aside gallons or pales of water, it just turns out that need is that of a swimming pool. So what was a garden hose is now a fire truck’s hose and we are doubling this everyday. And this should now accelerate as days go by.

STEVENS: So obviously, you couldn’t handle the initial response. But even today, we are now on the sixth day, we are at the airport, we are the staging post for relief supplies, I get asked for water. My crew gets asked for water everyday, several times a day. If you can’t supply water here…

SEC. ROXAS: There’s no municipal water supply. All the water that is available are in bottles that are brought in. This is brought to the warehouse of the Social Welfare Department from which it now goes to all the communities from the interior. This, what you see here is multiplied a thousand times by all the other localities inside.

STEVENS: Is the situation under control?

SEC. ROXAS Yes, I would say that it is.

STEVENS: Are you saying that the relief efforts are now working as effectively and as efficiently as they could be?

SEC. ROXAS: You know, Andrew, nothing is fast enough in a situation like this. The point is everything that we have, if this is a gun, all bullets are being deployed, if this is a fire hose, all hoses are being deployed. And slowly, as we are clearing the streets, we are able to reach the people in the interior. Imagine a situation where from zero, no power, light, water, communication—nothing, you have to build the social infrastructure as well as the physical infrastructure from 275,000 families.

STEVENS: But this is immediate response. Surely you knew the storm was coming, we all knew the storm was coming. We knew it was going to be perhaps one of the most intense storms we’ve ever seen. The president said on the day before the storm arrived that Manila stood by, ready to support everyone. From my view, that didn’t happen quickly enough.

ROXAS: Well, as I said, nothing is fast enough in a situation like this. In our doctrine or in our framework, the local government unit is the first responder. The national government is supposed to come in on Day 2, Day 3 to be able to support that. What happened is that the local government unit, not just here in Tacloban but also in many communities in Leyte, basically, was literally swept away. So there was…

STEVENS: But there was emphasis for central government to provide immediate resistance.

SEC. ROXAS: That;s right. That’s why on Day 1, on zero plus Day 1, we were able to open the airport. On Day 2, we opened the roads to the airport. And now here we are, Day 6, all the municipalities are now accessible by land.

STEVENS: I travel to the city everyday. I have been. Everyday, I have been passing the same bodies on the street. What I want to know is you are trying to reassure the people. The people are living wherever they can. They are still living next to these decomposing corpses.

SEC. ROXAS: Let me just correct that, they are not the same bodies. Everyday, we pick up the bodies. I, myself, led a pickup, a cadaver recovery team yesterday and the day before so…

STEVENS: With due respect, I see the same ones.

SEC. ROXAS: They may look like they are the same because they are in the same looking body bags. The point is what’s happening is as we pick up along the main road, all of the bodies in the interior are then brought out. So the next team, there’s two rounds everyday, the next team then goes and picks it up. Last night, when I left here the airport, at around 11 or midnight, as I was going out, there’s another batch of bodies, which are now being picked up again by the same cadaver recovery team.

STEVENS: When will the roads be cleared? When will the stench of death actually stopped being apparent in the city, next to major staging post. There are still what I can say are about 20 to 30 bodies just nearby.

SEC. ROXAS: Well, you know Andrew, let me give you our situation. Right now, we have 20 trucks operating, We split that in half. One half is at food delivery, one half of that is in clearing the streets, and a quarter, meaning one half of that one half is in cadaver recovery. That’s what we have.

By tonight, another ten trucks are supposed to arrive and then after that, those organized by the private sector is also coming in to help us. So every asset, moving asset, physical asset that is being brought here, genset, etc. are being deployed as fast as we can to where it’s needed and that’s all we can do.

Stevens: What is the death toll now and what do you expect it to be having been a part of this devastation?

SEC. ROXAS: It’s going to be horrific, Andrew. The actual number reported by the Office of Civil Defense as of last night is 1,668. But that’s, I think, understated because there are still many towns that have not sent in complete reports. And out of the 40 towns of Leyte, for example, only 20 have been contacted. So there’s another 20 towns with no communication. Now that the roads have been opened…

STEVENS: How much are we talking about there in 20 towns, roughly how many hundreds of thousands of people?

SEC. ROXAS: The population of the entire Leyte province is about a million and a half. About three to four hundred thousand of that is in Tacloban, the big city, including Palo. The rest of it is spread out on the other areas.

STEVENS: Okay, so horrific…

SEC. ROXAS: It’s going to be be a high death toll. I don’t wanna go into just throwing out numbers. It’s gonna be high but what I can do, and I wanna take this opportunity and ask help from the rest of the world. We appreciate all the help that has come in, but what we need right now are medicines for community-borne diseases like leptospirosis, anti-typhoid medicine, anti-tetanus medicine, and that sort of thing.

We don’t need so much doctors, although we appreciate all the doctors, nurses that have come here. But we have the medical personnel. It’s the supplies, bandages, trauma kits, hygiene kits, tents. All of the homes, you can see all the first 4 kilometers down the coast, every home for a kilometer and a half deep down the coast have just been swept away.

So we’re gonna need tents. We’re gonna need gensets to be able to power up the government offices, the hospitals, the water-pumping stations, those are the kind we need.

STEVENS: Are you saying the international community has not responded as generously as it should be?

Roxas: No, we’re very, very grateful for all the help that has come in, even countries that normally don’t respond, that we don’t see like Canada or Israel, the others are here and we appreciate this very much. All I’m trying to do is if you’re going to send help, I’m trying to match the help that’s coming in with what I see on the ground is the need.

STEVENS: Let me tell you a story I heard yesterday from the mayor of this city. He said that we ordered and asked for 700 body bags from the central authorities in Manila. Evidently, these body bags in Manila never turned up here. No one knows where they are.

My question to you is, is there an effective chain of command here? Is there a coordination? Do you think that you have the right structure in place to deal with this? Because, again from what I’m seeing, it seems to be uncoordinated. It doesn’t seem to be working nearly efficiently enough.

ROXAS: Again, as I’ve said, every effort, there’s nothing as big or nothing as fast in a situation like this. It’s chaotic. There are no baggage tags. All the supplies just come in in unmarked boxes. So, yes it’s very easy for 700 body bags –I don’t even know about that— to get lost. Nonetheless, as of yesterday, I know that the army and the local city already has 500 body bags that they’re deploying. So those body bags are gonna be found and we’re gonna need more. And there’s more that’s coming in from the central office.

STEVENS: Do you think martial law should be declared here? I know curfew is now in place.

ROXAS: Well, even the curfew, you know the curfew is de facto, not de jure. Because the city council cannot get a quorum because they themselves are victims.

STEVENS: But surely you need to override bureaucracy in the light of this situation.

ROXAS: No, which is why it is de facto. It’s in place even if there is no technical paper legalizing it. It is de facto. The PNP is enforcing it. We have brought in 1,000 additional PNP from outside of Leyte and Tacloban to be able to augment the forces here.

I’ll give you an example, Andrew. Tacloban police station has manpower of 293. On Day 1, that is Saturday, only 20 showed up. They’re all victims. They’re swept away. They’re victims themselves. Their houses were swept away. They’re looking for their loved ones. Today, as of last night, the count is 50. So that’s why people from the outside had to be brought in.

STEVENS: Alright. So we’re gonna have to leave it there.


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