Typhoon whips up old feud between political clans
President Aquino has taken a swipe at the Marcos dynasty, who are thought to have ordered his father's killing
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III: During a visit to Guiuan, a town almost completely wiped out but with a death toll of just 85 because of timely evacuation by the authorities, Aquino spoke of his “sour gut” feeling. Photograph: AP Photo
Workers outside a museum in central Tacloban were making a serious attempt at cleaning up the area in front of it. It was not clear if they were municipal workers or if they had been hired by someone else. Possibly by Imelda Marcos, the shoe fetishist widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and patron of the museum.
The subplot to the tragedy that has befallen the Philippines, and Tacloban in particular, has not been lost on locals.
Imelda Marcos was born in Tacloban, or rather just down the road, and is a former title holder of the Rose of Tacloban teenage beauty pageant. It is widely regarded as “her” city.
The mayor, Alfred Romualdez (51), has spent a lot of time around the media centre when, it might be supposed, he had other things to attend to. Romualdez is her nephew.
Benigno Aquino is president of the Philippines and is son of a father of the same name. Aquino snr was a trenchant opponent in exile of Marcos and his abusive rule. When Aquino snr returned from exile in 1983, he was shot dead as he stepped out of the aircraft by assassins who few believed were anything other than agents of Marcos.
The murder signalled the beginning of the end for the by-then friendless dictator, and even the Americans, his most loyal supporters, abandoned him. Aquino’s widow, Cory (Corazon), who was now leader of the People Power opposition movement, sought to secure her husband’s legacy. People Power ousted Marcos and Cory Aquino became president in February 1986.
Swipe at mayor
There is no love lost between the Marcos and Aquino clans, which might explain why Benigno Aquino took a swipe on Sunday at the mayor’s allegedly tawdry response to the typhoon and all that it visited on his city.
During a visit to Guiuan, a town almost completely wiped out but with a death toll of just 85 because of timely evacuation by the authorities, Aquino spoke of his “sour gut” feeling. But, he added, “I won’t talk any more because, as president, I’m prohibited from getting angry. [But] when you’re told you’ll be hit [by a typhoon], what do you do? You act.”
No one here has any doubt but that he was taking a swipe at Romualdez and his allegedly poor handling of events – the death toll in Tacloban is approximately 1,000.
As the wind blew and the waters began rising on Friday week last, Romualdez, protective motorcycle helmet on his head, strode along the shore in- specting the weather but doing little else. Aquino, it seems, would not have been overly upset had he been swept away.