MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo admitted Tuesday that she felt bad and found it "unfortunate" that she was in the United States when Typhoon Nina (international name: Nock-Ten) ravaged several parts of the country, including her hometown Naga, on Christmas day.
"Andun ako (sa US) na ang sama sa loob na may nangyayari dito na wala ako...masama yung timing ngayon. Masama yung loob ko na nangyari yun na wala ako," she said, as she met with victims of the typhoon in Naga City.
(I felt really bad while I was there and something was happening here. The timing was bad. I feel bad that I was not there (in Bicol) when it (Typhoon Nina) happened.)
Robredo earlier drew flak from several supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte for "vacationing" during a calamity.
But Robredo said their family decided to cut short their trip and return to Manila, but found it hard to book return tickets as December was peak season.
"Dapat sa (January) 4 pa yung pabalik namin. Yung earliest (flight) na nakuha namin New Year's Eve kaya New Years's eve kami nagbiyahe," Robredo said.
(We were supposed to return on January 4. The earliest return flight we got was on New Year's Eve so we only flew back home on that date.)
"Napakahirap maghanap ng limang tickets kasi kasama ko yung tatlo kong anak at nanay ko na 80 years old," she added.
(It was hard to look for and book five tickets. I was with my three daughters and my 80-year-old grandmother.)
The vice president said her physical absence from relief operations during the height of the Christmas typhoon was just a case of "bad timing."
"Na timing lang talaga. Masama yung timing ngayon," Robredo said.
(It was just a case of bad timing.)
"Siguro naman kahit sinong constituents ko dito matatanong lahat na bagyo wala ako ditong absent except now," she said.
(If you ask any of my constituents in Bicol, they'll tell you that I was never absent during typhoons, except now.)
Though the Office of the Vice President announced that Robredo helped in "coordinating relief from the US," the Filipina leader admitted that it was not enough.
"Paglapag ko lang sa US nung pumunta ako, inareglo ko na kaagad yung relief operations... Pero iba din kasi kung ako mismo yung andito," Robredo said.
(I arranged relief operations as soon as I landed in the US... But it's still different if I was actually in Bicol then.)
-- With reports from Jessa Mylce Mella, ABS-CBN News