So now, the stink (B.S) is out of the bag, and will probably hit the fan. The United Nations in Manila has announced that it will launch an investigation of reports that international relief donations were not reaching the victims of Typhoon Yolanda and that they have been hoarded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development at the Aquino Sports Stadium. The embassy of the United Kingdom has expressed official concern about the alleged pilferage of its relief donations.
In the age of BS Aquino 3rd, in the midst of the biggest natural catastrophe and the biggest humanitarian crisis to hit the country, the Aquino administration has proven to be incompetent, unfeeling and ineffective.
From the president, to the Cabinet, to lower-level officials, Filipino public servants have been uniformly shown as rank amateurs and incompetents.
Major political problems usually descend on our republic in the shape of a constitutional crisis, as when the institutions of government (executive, legislative and judicial) clash with each other.
Today, we are facing another kind of crisis. We face a crisis of competence in government administration.
The immediate trigger of this crisis was the visit of Typhoon Yolanda on November 8 and the trail of devastation and tragedy it left behind.
A day before it made landfall, President Aquino addressed the nation on television to assure the public of the government’s readiness to face Yolanda. He said the country’s C130 aircrafts 32 airplanes and helicopters and the Philippine Navy’s 20 ships would be on stand by. He said that relief goods were also pre-positioned in the areas expected to be hit by the supertyphoon.
Aquino dispatched Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Local government Secretary Manuel Roxas to Tacloban. Incredibly, these duo forgot to bring satellite cellphones with them. Within 24 hours, they were marooned and isolated in Tacloban, once the typhoon hit.
Mimicking their boss’s signature stance, they watched mouth agape as Yolanda’s ferocious winds and storm surges completely battered and flooded Tacloban and nearby communities.
Aquino’s promise of planes, ships and relief supplies never materialized.
With two top cabinet officials on the scene, the government was still unable to formulate an availing response to Yolanda and the humanitarian crisis it unleashed.
By the time Gazmin and Roxas returned to the scene of the storm, with President Aquino they were still none the wiser about the disaster. They were wiser only in hitting upon the idea of blaming the chaotic aftermath on Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez and local officials , by tagging them as the “first responders” to the disaster.
The problem of dysfunctional government is rooted in the absence of leadership before Yolanda hit land and in its immediate aftermath. All executive departments were ordered to help, But no one pulled them together.
Secretary Gazmin could not lead. Secretary Roxas could not do it either. They who were first at the scene did not want the responsibility of leading.
Roxas – no training as manager
DILG secretary Mar Roxas is a curiosity in this saga, because he is ever present and prominent. Besides heading a major department, he has long been designated as Aquino’s heir apparent.
One Filipino living in the US —a native Leyteño and MBA Wharton alumnus—has reported that contrary to the official and popular impression here, Roxas is not an MBA alumnus of Wharton, like Manuel Pangilinan of PLDT. A Wharton professor remembers Roxas as an undergraduate in the school. Roxas got an undergraduate degree in economics. But he did not return to Wharton to get an MBA degree.
This shows that Roxas does not have the professional training for professional management and executive leadership.
Like his boss, he has only a bachelor’s degree in economics.
Roxas excites wonder because three successive presidents have tapped him to join their cabinets—President Estrada, President Arroyo and now President Aquino. The various positions handed him suggest a man of many skills and trades.
But he has yet to prove his prowess in administration and management in a significant project or program. The Zamboanga crisis might have qualified because he was the ground commander, but nobody credits him for anything.
Abominations and aberrations
As if the widespread dying, destruction and misery from Typhoon Yolanda were not enough, horrible and appalling stories continue to pour out of the bowels of the disaster. You would think that one month after the typhoon’s landfall, a measure of calm and normality would already have settled in Tacloban and East Visayas. But things are much sadder in reality.
Just when we thought that relief goods and medicine donations were finally reaching the survivors and the needy, the expose in the UK Daily Mail hit the headlines. And the report of a UN investigation has come up.
Shocking also is the post-disaster joint committee hearing of Congress on December 9, which featured Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez. The inquiry also called DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas to give testimony, but he did not show up.
The story told by Mayor Romualdez was painful for Leyteños to hear:
1. Roxas repeatedly refused to grant his request for additional police personnel to keep the peace in Tacloban, and for trucks to help in the recovery of bodies and debris clearance.
2. Roxas told Romualdez to write a letter signifying that he could no longer perform his duties as mayor, so the DILG could take over.
3. Even more shocking, Roxas told Romualdez that he could not be given help because he was a Romualdez, and the president is an Aquino.
Stung by the mayor’s revelations, Roxas claims Romualdez twisted his words. But the mayor has a video of their conversation showing Roxas’s unconscionable demands. it is now posted on YouTube.
The video is proof that the administration played politics in the middle of this emergency. Aquino is president only of a segment of the population —the yellow crowd.
Which prompts the retort. The Philippines does not belong to BS Aquino. He is only one part of the Republic.
Lead, follow or get out of the way
The ineffective action of the government throughout the Yolanda disaster proves the wisdom of Tom Paine’s admonition to his fellow patriots during the American Revolution: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
In nearly every post-Yolanda analysis that has been made, the conclusion is unchanging: the relief effort would have been more effective if the designated leaders just got out of the way. People involved stumbled over each other because of ill-defined roles, and lack of commitment to tasks.
There is a meanness at the heart of the Aquino administration that basically stalls east Visayans’ efforts to surmount speedily this colossal blow to their lives. As one angry Tacloban resident said on social media: instead of extending a hand, Aquino gave the people of Tacloban his middle finger.
Everything is politics for this President and his top lieutenants. He will not forgive Warays for sharing a home with Mrs. Imelda Marcos. In the middle of this huge calamity, we too must all suffer his vindictiveness.
On the sixth day after Yolanda pummeled the country, Ben Kritz in his Manila Times column suggested the ultimate in applying Paine’s maxim: the Aquino government should get out of the way and pave the way for UN intervention to enable the nation to cope with the catastrophe.
Everyone assumed that the government could do the job of meeting the challenge. But that is not the case. President Aquino cannot admit what was obvious to the rest of the world, that the disaster had overwhelmed his government’s capacity to respond.
By stubbornly insisting that things were under control, Aquino was carelessly squandering the assistance of the world community. It is in this light that Kritz pushed his UN intervention solution.
Of course, this proud country and our people will not accept UN intervention.
One expatriate reading the Kritz column opined: “Mr. President, if you can’t lead then get out of the way and let someone else who can do it and just follow their example, but wait . . . is there anyone else in the Government or in the private sector that can step up to the task and lead this country?”
This is where we Filipinos find ourselves today—trapped in the fixed term of a President who is incompetent and incapable of leading us. Some put forward analyses and constructive proposals on how the country can effectively meet the challenges to national life. But given the warped politics and policy myopia of Aquino and the Liberal Party, such efforts are futile.
The administration will not accept suggestions, no matter how sensible, because President Aquino never makes mistakes.