MANILA, Philippines—Secretary Panfilo Lacson likened super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) to a “world superpower” that is “bullying” any country it wants to, knowing “with certainty that she would not be challenged.”
“To the extent that the Filipino people are being made to confront a mighty power sinister in purpose and so treacherously concealed in the dead of the night, densely fogged in false diplomacy if it were likened to an armed aggressor in the ancient times of the dynasties,” Lacson said Thursday in his speech delivered before a delegation from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
“Being one of the most powerful threats in the history of mankind and all nations in this part of the globe, the tempest of phenomenal proportions has had the luxury of being able to do more or less whatever she wants in arrogantly confronting any jurisdiction impressively weak and helpless along her path, maybe conscious and with certainty that she would not be challenged,” he said.
Despite what could be construed as clear references to China, Lacson clarified that he was not referring to any country with his speech before the Asean High-Level Conference on Assistance for the Recovery of Yolanda-affected Areas.
“For those of you who are more politically minded, or whose thoughts are plagued with controversy — perhaps you thought I was insinuating something else or alluding to some other country,” Lacson said.
“Indeed, Haiyan proved itself to be a new superpower when it broke all world records as being the strongest typhoon to make landfall in human history,” he said.
Lacson, as secretary of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR), is leading the government’s recovery efforts after “Yolanda” devastated 14 provinces and left more than 6,300 deaths last November 2013.
The conference brought together various stakeholders of the recovery effort from local government units to international organizations to exchange knowledge and experience in disaster response and recovery.
It also raised concrete commitments from the stakeholders in the forms of cash, technical assistance, technology transfer and equipment from Asean development partners.
“The Asean community has extended overwhelming assistance to our country from the onset of Yolanda. As we transition to the phase of massive implementation of our rehabilitation and recovery efforts, we once again appeal for their relentless support towards the resilient recovery of affected communities,” Lacson said.
According to the OPARR’s recovery plan more than P170 billion will be needed for priority projects of the rehabilitation effort in the sectors of infrastructure, social services, resettlement, and livelihood.
“Let us stay together, be united and be stronger, so that we can take on big and powerful calamities such as “Yolanda,” or any other similar superpower, predictable or otherwise, that comes our way,” Lacson said.