Above image via Katrina Stuart Santiago FB
A new campaign material for Mar Roxas is circulating and it’s one of the most creative campaign materials we’ve seen in a while—creative good or crazy, we’re not too sure.
Sa Gitna ng Unos (In the Midst of Disaster) is a 28-page comic book portraying the efforts of Mar Roxas when Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the country. Copies of the comic book were distributed by Liberal Party supporters during the birthday celebration of a political ally in Imus, Cavite.
Mar Roxas’ involvement and the administration’s measures during the Yolanda disaster have been the subject of many controversies. In fact, two years after the incident, Roxas still receives criticisms for what he did (and didn’t do) when the typhoon struck. It is this, precisely, which could have urged Roxas supporters to come out with Sa Gitna ng Unos—to paint a better picture of Mar Roxas during the calamity.
But instead of putting Roxas in a better light, the comic book, instead, draw more flak towards the presidential bet. Countless citizens called the comic book a far cry from what really happened during the typhoon.
Yolanda survivor Marissa Cabaljao tells The Standard that the comic book was a revision of history.
“That he came out with that comic book shows how desperate he is to show that he actually did something. That is far from the truth and reality that what he did and did not do resulted in the death of thousands of people. This is criminal negligence. He is cleaning his name and washing his hands of the tragedy,” Cabaljao said in Filipino.
Father Jazz Siapco, director of the archdiocesan Social Action Center in Lipa, told UCA News that the comic book is misleading. “I don’t believe he is a hero. I myself was immersed in the relief operation and rehabilitation in Leyte.”
Lottie Salarda, also a Yolanda survivor, cries that Mar Roxas was clueless about the typhoon.
“I was there. Many survivors were there also. I was even present during the press conference where he said that there will be a meeting at 8:00am on November 8,” Salarda posts on Facebook. “Meaning, he never knew that the storm will hit as early as 5am. Tapos ngayon hero siya? Wala siyang alam. It will be between his story and our stories. To all Roxas supporters, I’m sorry but your Presidential candidate is insane.”
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III are also saying that portraying Roxas as a hero of the Yolanda disaster couldn’t be more than misrepresentation.
“[It is] a gross misrepresentation of what happened in Eastern Visayas…and a clear whitewashing of the government’s incompetence and criminal negligence,” Zarate said, adding that this is “a grave insult to the victims of Yolanda.”
Bello believes that the comic book will only bring Roxas down further.
Super Typhoon Yolanda has left deep wounds in Visayas, killing more than 6,000 people, leaving some 1.9-million Filipinos homeless, and destroying 90 percent of the structures in Tacloban. The administration has been under fire following the storm and Roxas took the bulk of it, especially, since it was he who was dispatched in Tacloban earlier for supposed disaster preparedness measures.
Roxas and his camp has already responded and they assert that the comic book is nothing but a genuine effort of Roxas followers to show their support to the presidential bet.
Akbayan Party-list Representative Barry Gutierrez, who is also the spokesperson of the Koalisyon ng Daang Matuwid, clears that the material did not come from Roxas’ camp. It was only created by supporters who wish to inform the public of Roxas’ efforts during the storm.
“This was made due to the continued spread of lies about his deeds. Dramatization is an important part of the medium. We have long shown the truth about Mar’s actions in Yolanda. His record is clear, and we stand by it,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
“I thank our supporters for creating the comics and for shedding light on the events during that time. Comics is part of our culture and is part of a regular or conventional campaign,” Roxas told reporters, Tuesday. “To those who appreciated (the comics), I thank them. To those who reacted negatively, they are most likely allies of my rivals. Maybe they saw that it was effective so they reacted in a negative way. That’s the way it is.
“I thank our supporters for making [this comic book] and explaining what really happened [during Yolanda].”
Below are snapshots from the comic book: