DAVAO CITY — Prayers and lighted candles marked Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s observance of the day two years ago when super typhoon Yolanda ravaged Central Philippines, killing thousands of Filipinos and destroying almost everything in its path.
“I lighted candles and offered a prayer in memory of those we lost when Typhoon Yolanda struck our country two years ago. May God grant them eternal repose and bless those they left behind,” Duterte posted in his Facebook page early Monday.
Accompanying the post was a photo showing the Davao City mayor holding a lighted candle with his trusted aide, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, behind him.
Duterte, who was born in Southern Leyte, one of the areas hardest hit by Yolanda, was one of the first local officials to arrive in Tacloban City, bringing along with him search and rescue teams which included doctors with ambulances.
“The scene was surreal. You just could not believe that such degree of devastation could ever happen. There were corpses everywhere,” he later said about his experience in Tacloban City.
Those who were with him in the relief and rescue mission in the areas hit by Yolanda said they saw Duterte cry several times.
“Yolanda’s unequalled devastation showed the strength of the faith of the Filipinos and their unparalleled resilience,” he said.
He, however, pointed out that Yolanda also showed the ugly face of Philippine politics where even in the midst of the devastation, political lines were still drawn.
Two years after Yolanda, the relief operations in some areas of the Central Visayas are still marred by political influence and corruption.
“Worse than the devastation by Yolanda is the fact that some of our leaders are more concerned with politics rather than the welfare of our people,” the mayor said.
Duterte was formally invited to the ceremonies marking the second year of the disaster in Tacloban City but he sent his regrets, preferring to mark the day with just prayers and lighted candles. PNA