Robredo returns from U.S.; Says relief ops in Typhoon Nina-hit areas 'slow'

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Vice President Leni Robredo (L) visits typhoon Nina-hit communities.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday said relief operations in typhoon Nina-hit communities are slow.

She said until now, electricity has not been fully restored — eight days after the typhoon battered the Bicol region.

"Sa tingin ko medyo mabagal, mabagal iyong galaw," Robredo said. "Tingin ko kailangan tulungan kung paano mapapabilis kasi medyo unusual ito na eight days after hindi pa nga 50% iyong nababalik na kuryente," Robredo said.

[Translation: I think it's slow, the action is slow. I think we should help on how to make the process faster, because it's really unusual. Eight days have passed and not even 50% of areas affected have their electricity restored.]

"Halimbawa dito, isang barangay pa lang napupuntahan ko dito, pero iyong reklamo ni Kap, na iyong galing pa lang sa amin na tulong ang dumating," she added. [For example, I've only been to one village as of now,  but the Barangay captain was complaining, he said only relief goods from our office had arrived.]

LOOk: Photos: Typhoon Nina hits Southern Tagalog provinces

But more than that, Robredo said the bigger problem is restoring people's livelihood — one that the government needs to address immediately.

"Dito, so far, dito sa barangay na ito, iyong damage to crops ang pinakagrabe. Ito iyong mahirap makabangon kasi ito lang ang means ng livelihood dito. Iyong pabahay aasikasuhin na natin pero iyon they can live with," Robredo said.

[So far, in the villages here, the damage to crops is the worst.  It's difficult to move on because it's their livelihood. We will attend to the housing, but they can live with that.]

"Iyong problema talaga is iyong hanapbuhay. Kaya sinabihan ko si Kap na asikasuhin na namin iyong lahat ng requirements para ihingi na natin iyong tulong sa DA (Department of Agriculture) kasi kung hindi natin ito maasikaso agad-agad wala talagang kakainin iyong mga tao."

[Translation: The problem really is the livelihood. That's why I told Kap (Barangay Captain) to process the requirements so we can ask help from the DA, because if we don't, people will go hungry.]

Also read: Duterte pledges up to P100M aid for typhoon-stricken farmers

The Vice President arrived from U.S. vacation with her family on Monday, January 2.

She said it was unfortunate that she was not in the country when the typhoon happened.

"Unfortunate na wala ako, siguro naman, kahit sino sigurong constituents ko dito matatanong ninyo lahat ng bagyo wala ako dito, absent, except now," Robredo said. [It was unfortunate that I was not here. Any of my constituents would ask 'why are you not here during the typhoon,' you're absent except now.]

She added, she wasn't able to "concentrate" during her vacation, since she was attending to relief operations while she was in the United States.

"Masama ang timing na iyon, masama din loob ko na nangyari na wala ako. Actually nasa bakasyon ako pero hindi rin ako makapag-concentrate. Iyong inaasikaso ko iyong relief operations dito." [It was really a bad timing, it also hurts me that I'm not here when it happened. I was actually in a vacation but I cannot concentrate.  I was leading relief operations here.]

The vice president said she tried to get tickets for the return flight of her family, but it was impossible.

"Napakahirap maghanap ng limang tickets dahil kasama ko ang tatlo kong anak at iyong aking nanay na 80 years old," she said adding their original flight back to Manila is on January 4. [It was difficult to look for five tickets because I was with my three daughters and my 80-year-old mother.]

Robredo admits though, that it would have been different if she was here during the time her home province needed her the most.

Watch: Naga back to normal three days after 'Nina'

Latest report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Typhoon Nina left three people dead and 21 missing in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Region VIII. While the typhoon also caused more than ₱5 billion worth of damages to agriculture and infrastructure in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Region V.

Robredo denies joining any rally against Duterte

In response to President Rodrigo Duterte's statements, linking her to alleged plans to oust him,  Robredo said she did not join any rally against the President.

She said the President chose to believe lies, instead of finding out the truth if she really joined any protest action.

"Ako sa tingin ko kahit ang media alam na wala akong rally na sinalihan. Ang alam ko may dalawang rally na nangyari, pareho hindi ako sumali doon. May mga nag-iinvite sa akin na sumali lalo na kasi ang pinaka-subject ng rallies is the position against the burial of Marcos," Robredo said.

[Translation: I think any media outfit knows I didn't join any rally.  As far as I know, there were two rallies but I did not join either.  There were people who invited me, especially the subject of the protest is the position against the burial of Marcos.]

Also read: Duterte ready to defend presidency, admits problem with Robredo

She pointed out, she intentionally did not join any protest activities "in deference to the President" because she was a member of the Cabinet.

Robredo added, she exerted all efforts to talk to the President before she finally handed her resignation letter as Housing Secretary.

"Iyong Cabinet post kasi position of confidence iyon. Kailangang buo ang tiwala sa akin ng Pangulo pero kung ganoon ang kasinungalingan na pinaniwalaan, gustong sabihin na iyong tiwala sa akin napakababa so wala na ring point," Robredo said.

[Translation: Cabinet post is a position of confidence. The President should have full confidence in me but he chose to believe in lies. That means his trust confidence in me is so low, so there's no more point.]

The Vice President also said she would still support government projects she thinks would benefit the public, even she's at the other side of the political fence.