ILIGAN CITY – Some residents in Marawi City echoed their support to retired Army general, now Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary, Rolando Bautista after he was berated on air by radio personality, Erwin Tulfo, for supposedly failing to grant an interview request for the show.
Bautista, who was the over-all ground commander during the Marawi siege in 2017, earned sympathies from city residents who have publicly thrown the sympathies on Facebook.
Tulfo appeared furious in one of the latest episodes of his radio show.
“Tinatawagan ka namin para marining ng kababayang mahihirap ang stand ng mga mahihirap. Hindi yung sasabihan niyo kami na sumulat muna kayo five days before. Sino ka bang punyeta ka na kailangan ko pang sumulat sayo? Sagutin mo yung telepono mo dahil Secretary ka ng DSWD! Gustong marinig ng mga kababayan natin anong magagawa mo para sa kanila,” Tulfo said in his radio program.
Zia Alonto Adiong, Assemblyman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said he will vouch for Bautista’s "ability to deliver on the basis of his stellar performance and unquestionable credibility as a decorated soldier and an effective public servant."
Adiong was the spokesperson of Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Management and Coordination Center during the five-month siege in Marawi City, working alongside with Bautista.
"He didn’t only engage the terrorists head-on inside the main battle area throughout the entire course of the conflict but had parallel programs with local youth groups to institutionalize his vision for a tolerant and welcoming society free from violent extremists and radicals, believing in the capacity of our youth to become an active partners of the government in maintaining a secure and safe environs for all," Adiong said in his Facebook post.
Aslani Montila, Executive Director of Siyap ko Pagtaw, a civil society group in Marawi City, also took his support to social media, saying it was during Bautista's time as DSWD secretary that the relief assistance was converted into cash.
It can be recalled that displaced families have been asking the DSWD to convert their relief goods to cash so that they could buy fish and vegetables for their meals instead of repeatedly eating canned goods and noodles at the evacuation center.
Bautista, a member of the Philippine Military Academy "Sandiwa" Clas of 1985, retired as Commanding General of the Philippine Army in October 2018.
He was the first commander of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) under the administration of President Duterte, who appointed him as DSWD secretary after his retirement.
Adiong said, when Bautista took over the department, he "placed Marawi's internally displaced persons central to his office priorities and extended to qualified beneficiaries" the 53,000 pesos Transitory Family Support Package (TFSP), the 20,000 pesos Livelihood Settlement Grants (LSG) and the P1,359 worth of "provision of pabaon relief pack".
"As of today, 15,677 families have been identified and each shall receive a total of ₱73,000 cash assistance and one Pabaon Relief Pack. This assistance for the affected residents in the most affected areas that started on April 06, 2019, serving 82% or 12,993 families out of the total target of 15,677 family-recipients. Sec. Bautista may have left his boots off but he continues to fight against any perceived enemies of the people- may it be terrorists, poverty or corruption," Adiong said.
Jamila Taha, an employee of DSWD in Marawi City, also took to social media his message to Tulfo.
"When you insulted our secretary, you insulted the whole institution," Taha said in his Facebook account.