During the storm, the Mayor was in his beach house. After the storm, he was seen wandering the streets until he was picked and rescued by staff members of Secretaries Gazmin and Roxas. It was Mar, not Mayor Romualdez, who had set up the command center with what little resources he had at the time.
The Mayor would later recount that the warnings were not adequately given to his constituents. He did not know what a storm surge was to begin with. He blamed PAGASA for not informing him about storm surges. In contrast, the other mayors in Leyte were able to save lives because they took pains to learn about the coming storm.
Alfred Romualdez’s wife is former actress, now aspiring mayor, Cristina “Kring Kring” Gonzales-Romualdez. She had an interview with Rappler wherein her views on the storm were documented.
She had to this to say about her husband for staying in Tacloban:
“He could’ve just turned his back and said you know, I’m done with this. x x x He didn’t have to stay here in [Tacloban] and continue but he sacrificed his days and his time and all his efforts being here, staying here.”
When she was asked, “do you feel that the political controversy after Yolanda between the national government and the local government may have gotten in the way of more efficient service?” Her answer:
“I can’t answer that.”
In contrast, Councilor Neil Glova (a declared supporter of Grace Poe for the 2016 elections) had this to say
“Imbis na makipagtulungan, makipagugnayan, batikos ng batikos ang aming [mayor] sa national government. x x x Kung humihingi ka ng tulong, diba normal lang na makiusap ka?”
Mayor Romualdez has since apologized for his behavior. Despite the Mayor’s malicious pronouncements, the DILG, under Mar, still funded Tacloban City’s rehabilitation efforts.
The Mayor has not done a good job managing post-disaster rehabilitation efforts. According to Ping Lacson, then designated as OPARR chief, he even refused aid despite Lacson bending over backwards to give it to him upon Alfred’s initial request:
I’d like to share with you my sentiments about Tacloban City x x x
I’m wondering why in the nearby municipalities, there are no issues involved. But in Tacloban, we are facing so many challenges.
A handshake that is half-meant can reach but halfway. We want to extend again our handshake to the mayor here, but if he refuses to meet the handshake then we are only good halfway
Ang sinasabi ko kay (What I tell) Mayor Romualdez, it’s about time we work together because we are not thinking or ourselves here. We are thinking of the survivors x x
When I came back to him and told him of the good news [of receiving funds], it did not sound like good news to him.
I could not find an explanation why because he sounded so frantic.
Lacson said they discovered traces of Tacloban City Hall’s involvement in the anti-government protests held there during the first anniversary of Yolanda’s devastation on November 8. The OPARR chief claimed that the protesters were carried by trucks from the property of Romualdez:
We will continue to extend our hand of cooperation to the mayor of Tacloban. We will not give up on Tacloban. Nobody will be left out in these rehabilitation efforts. But the local executives must do their share. When you need assistance for your constituents, you forget about your personal or political agenda.