Palace defends Aquino's trip to South Korea-A A +A
Thursday, October 17, 2013
MALACANANG defended Thursday President Benigno Aquino III's decision to pursue with his trip to South Korea while thousands of Filipinos were still suffering from the effect of the recent deadly earthquake in Visayas.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that before Aquino left for Seoul, he visited Bohol and Cebu and assured them that the government would provide the necessary assistance to them.
"There was an assessment and the President already gave instructions. Those instructions are being carried out," he said in a press briefing.
"Having said that, knowing that we are fully cognizant of our domestic concerns, we also do have our international commitments. Part of this is also to improve our—better, further better, our relations with Korea," Lacierda explained.
He added that while Aquino was fulfilling his international commitments, "the President is on top of the situation."
The President is in touch with all the Cabinet secretaries involved in the rescue and relief efforts in Bohol and Cebu, he added.
Aquino, in a speech before he left for Seoul, said that he has to push with his trip to South Korea with the future of Filipinos on his mind.
"May mga nagtanong po kung dapat tayo tumuloy matapos ng nangyari na lindol sa Kabisayaan. Ang sagot po natin dito: Habang inaasikaso nga ho ang kasalukuyan, dapat naman ho siguro huwag natin pabayaan ang kinabukasan," he said.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said that the government has earmarked P12 million for the President's two-day state visit to South Korea.
Asked of why the Aquino administration instead used the P12 million to assist the earthquake victims, Lacierda said that the government has enough resources to support the needs of the quake-affected population.
"We have lots of funds," he said, adding that the assistance for the earthquake victims as well as to the damaged structures would come from the government's savings.
He said that the concerned government agencies were still conducting an assessment on the amount of resources needed for the relief and rehabilitation of Bohol and Cebu.
But while the government has enough resources, Lacierda said that the Aquino administration would welcome assistance from the international community.
"Certainly, we appreciate international assistance, but we just want to categorically say that we have enough resources to handle the situation," he said.
Death toll from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake last Tuesday reached to at least 158, most of them came from Bohol. (SDR/Sunnex)