President Duterte dismissed criticisms that his administration was slow to respond to the recent typhoons as political in nature, saying the different departments and local government units (LGUs) must be given time to make assessments before spending money.
Duterte made the statement after Filipinos online criticized the government for the slow response to the victims of the recent typhoons, particularly the flooding in Cagayan Valley.
In an interview in Camarines Sur, President Duterte told reporters that these criticisms against his administration are a political punchline.
“Istorya lang ‘yan (That’s just a story),” he said Sunday.
“Politika ‘yan sa totoo lang (It’s politics, honestly). That’s a political punchline,” he added.
President Duterte said that everything was already prepared even before the typhoon came.
“Saan ang bagal dito? Nandiyan ang pagkain, the housing nandiyan (Is there anything slow here? The food is here, the housing is here),” he said.
“They [LGUs] are ready to implement. Sabi ko (As I said), we have the money,” he added.
According to the President, the government departments and LGUs have the money to respond to the typhoon but they cannot just spend their funds because they might get in trouble.
“You go right away and spend money, you land with the Ombudsman,” Duterte said.
“Give them time to make the proper assessment and all,” he added.
President Duterte’s administration was criticized by Filipinos online for their slow assistance to the people in need and the President’s supposed absence when parts of the country were experiencing the wrath of Typhoon Ulysses.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has explained that the President did not need to be present during briefings because he has people who are doing their job well. He said Duterte is always with the people.
However, Filipinos online did not like Roque’s Holy Spirit-like description of the Chief Executive and slammed Roque for thinking that those who were looking for the President were part of the opposition.