A 17-second video was maliciously edited. There’s a longer video (almost 43 min. long) that shows what actually happened in that meeting between Mayor Alfred Romualdez and then DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.
To contextualize the environment:
- The mayor wanted the National Government to take over.
- The city government of Tacloban could no longer function.
- The city council could not be gathered.
Mar asked Mayor Romualdez to sign a letter of consent. Mar was concerned that if the national government took over without the city’s formal consent, it would be misconstrued against President Aquino.
To use Mar’s words:
So, the question is we need to legalize our informal narrations. You cannot pass a resolution. So we need a document that says ‘please take over because we cannot do this…’ x x x With respect to the emergency, we want to legalize our standing here. …what we do can’t be questioned later on.
Mayor Romualdez’s reply was, in so many words, “What for?”
You have to remember, the President is an Aquino and you are a Romualdez. We don’t want to do anything that would be misconstrued [by the people of Tacloban]. x x x You’re going to get all the help that’s necessary. We respect you. What we want to do is we want to legalize it. The President, he wants to legalize it x x x to prevent somebody from saying [later] ‘Inagaw lang ng pangulo ito eh.’
The full transcript can be found here.
The phrase “bahala kayo sa buhay niyo” came much later in the video and Mar had said it out of sheer frustration since the Mayor would not sign the letter. Nevertheless, the national government still took over because the local government was decimated and was ill-equipped to handle the situation.
It bears stressing that:
The spliced video was released by the father-in-law of Mayor Romualdez.
The first news story about the spliced video was published by the Manila Standard, a newspaper owned by the Romualdez family.
This was clearly an orchestrated tactic to besmirch Mar’s reputation.
Despite the word war initiated by those who should have been thankful, Mar still worked to help the city. He personally delivered the first batch of aid from the national government. And this was gladly received by the mayors of affected cities – one such mayor was Alfred Romualdez.
Two years after the tragedy, Mayor Romualdez went on national television to thank the national government for everything it did to help Tacloban City despite its total devastation and despite the fact that it was not the only city that was hit by typhoon Yolanda.