Criticism

8
Katrina Stuart Santiago

Katrina Stuart Santiago

I agree there is much to be done in the face of the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, and there is really only sadness and helplessness for those of us who are far away, watching these images on television, hearing about the plight of those who are now on their seventh day without food and water.

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That should not, cannot mean, biting our tongues, and giving this government a break. Because anyone at all would know that there is something fundamentally wrong about the strongest storm coming to the Philippines, about a president that warned of storm surges, but who did not order an evacuation.

There is something wrong with a national government that expected their Local Government Units to take care of their towns and provinces, to be the first responders in the aftermath of the storm, without imagining that if the towns were going under, so would the homes of the mayors and governors and councilors.

No imagination
Yes, we may let all that go. Let’s say that the government prepared, but did not have the imagination to see how bad things would be. Let’s say that the government had a plan in place, but that plan was destroyed by the storm as well.

The question then becomes: why is there no Plan B?

This is not to be critical as it is actually to ask a question of the national government. Granted that it failed to imagine how horrible this storm would be, certainly they knew that at any given point for any disaster at all, they would need to step in?

Granted that they did step in. DSWD, DILG, DOH, DPWH were in Tacloban on Day 1, setting up a command center, building relief operations right there and then. The question from the beginning, and until now, is really only: why have the survivors of this storm had to wait?

Why did it take government six days to start clearing roads, and start distributing relief goods? Why was the national government’s system of relief one that took this long to be put in place? How is it okay that survivors wait three, four, five, seven days for food and water?

These are questions that are critical yes. But also these are questions that need to be asked, that are as urgent as the calls for relief goods, as urgent as the task of finding the missing, and putting up lists of those who have survived.

Alternate universe in social media
This is a government that has always celebrated social media and how it has allowed for a sense of a national response in times of tragedy. But social media also provides us with an alternative to the kind of narrative that government is creating about itself, about this tragedy.

Because yes, there is the voice of government, there are people there who we know are doing their jobs as best as they can. I do not doubt the sincerity of DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman for example. Neither do I doubt that she was moving hell and high waters to try and get enough relief goods, to go and get them to the people in need, right away. And this is not to question her reflection on the state of things in Tacloban, something that she posted on Facebook.

But also Facebook and Twitter provide for us an almost an alternate universe from that which government speaks of. What social media forces us to hear are the calls for relief goods in Hospital Village Guiuan or V&G Subdvision in Tacloban, Libacao Kalibo or Culion Palawan. It is social medis that allows people to say that they are still hungry, they are still thirsty, that there are still barangays not being reached by relief goods, even as the government and DILG have said that they have distributed goods to 30 out of 40 Leyte towns.

Criticism allows us to see these two very different narratives about what has happened, and what exactly is going on. And while one might believe the government’s stories, while what might matter to the next person is the official accounts of our government offices; certainly that cannot invalidate the suffering and need that we hear from the ground.

Making choices
It is a choice. It is a choice between listening to government and hearing the voices of countless others in need. It is a choice between believing what government says, and having a sense of what is happening on the ground. It is a choice between the way things are, the way things should be. The status quo is one that has allowed for thousands of survivors to go hungry, waiting for at least six days to get any food or water at all from government.

It is criticism that pushes this government to start moving, and as quickly as it can. That it might refuse to is not the problem of the critical. It’s on the conscience of those who fall silent.

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8 Comments

  1. If I am the President, I will resign for not doing the job expected of him. The fact that the storm is very powerful, there must be immediate warning and evacuation. Before the storm, the government did not advise, prepare,and monitor the seriousness of the situation. The President is the protector of the people and in this storm, the opposite is true .They are good in winning votes but ineffective and incompetent in saving lives, even after the storm when people needs food,water,medicine, shelter and security.How could they, stand still,in the suffering of our people ?

  2. Trsytan Evangelista on

    There is such a thing as a ‘robust discussion’. That is why you see different views about how the relief operations for S/T Yolanda is being handled.
    Agree that discouraging people from volunteering for the repacking activities of different government agencies is already extreme.
    However, no offense to those who think otherwise, but I don’t buy that CRAP about their explanation on re-packing the goods being donated by INTERNATIONAL donors. I don’t discount the efforts of those who truly believe in the cause and the contribution they are giving to this catastrophe. However, we can rant and help at the same time. These rantings are REALITY CHECKS for those who continue to be blind and deaf to what is happening around us.
    And I will continue to do so with my eyes and ears open to the reality of how the administration suck at their jobs — with or without these calamities.
    I don’t buy the CRAP that PNoy and his administration are very pressured with the succeeding calamities that the country has gone thru, thus the RETARDED response to the desperate situation in Tacloban. If they are not up to speed, and they rely on the rest of the Filipinos to make up for the gap due to their incompetence, impotence and inefficiency, then by all means remove TAXES!
    The rest of our fellow Filipinos had shown they are more than ready and had in fact STEPPED UP to the challenge of making our country rise again — while PNoy remains paralyzed. That’s why you see so many #BANGONPILIPINAS efforts all over the country.
    It would have been great if beyond the incompetency and inefficiency, the administration had let the neighboring countries do what they have to do. Unfortunately, they did not, have even restrained the efforts of some — because their ‘EPAL’ ness continues to shadow their decisions.
    And as a last note — between Korina Sanchez and Anderson Cooper, I will go for Mr Cooper any time of the day. After all, what can you expect from the prima donna wife of Mar Roxas. And yes, I did not vote for any of these idiots.
    The government and its current administration is the reason why Filipinos continue to lose face to the world, no matter how we try to excel at what we do. Unfortunately the PeoplePower that saved us before from Marcos was the very same force that placed us in this mess. From the kettle, to the fire.
    #GODBLESSTHEPHILIPPINES

  3. Eduardo Mendoza on

    I agree. When people see Pres. Aquino in an immaculately starched “barong” with ribbon, arguing with Christiane Amanpour about the number of storms passing thru the country and about the number of dead victims, then you realize that this man is very superficial, unaffected by the devastation happening around him. When re-bagging volunteers complain that the activity is a complete waste of time, that they are using bags with names of government agencies in them, then you see dishonesty and theft happening. We see Vice Pres. Binay’s name on relief good bags, while using military transportation. The delay in response is just telling, showing unpreparedness at all levels. Yet there were individual heroes in the scene and they should be praised and acknowledged, but the over-all response is so weak, that it is almost criminal negligence. Filipinos are patient and hopefully they remember and learn.

  4. the Pnoy gov’t started to act when almost everybody in the media and bloggers were criticizing their inaction and cluelessness in this tragedy.

  5. Rowena Boquiren on

    Please read this below, at Rappler — will clarify and correct assumptions; this is needed when criticism is made. What G. Wong posted in social media, also the article entitled ‘Ordering Outrage’ (better to entitle as ‘Putting Order to Outrage”) — went viral too, will help a lot. Constructive criticism must be welcome. I hope the suggestions will reach your readers too, many thanks.
    ——————–
    Nation

    Inside the Haiyan international relief base
    by Ayee Macaraig
    Posted on 11/16/2013 10:44 PM | Updated 11/17/2013 10:09 AM

  6. You hit it right on the head. Question is, What were they doing in the “Palace” in the first 5 days after the storm?