Issue on and lessons for PNoy on super typhoon

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Rick B. Ramos

Rick B. Ramos

My article last week entitled  “Super typhoon exposed super incompetence of Pnoy” (Manila Times, November 23, 2013) elicited the most number of responses since I started writing my column four months ago. Perhaps for obvious reason(s), the Filipino people and foreigners alike were simply dismayed by the glacial pace of response of the national government under the Aquino administration.

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It has been three weeks since Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated Eastern and Central Visayas on November 08, but the total number of fatalities has not been completed until today. As of Thursday, November 28, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) placed the figure at 5,560 with 1,757 still missing and more than 26,000 were injured. More than 10 million people are estimated to have been affected by Yolanda and some 3.5 million were left homeless. This is five times the initial estimate of 600,000 people displaced by the aftermath of the devastation.

An issue taken against President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd was when he quibbled over the number of people who died. Interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on the reported 10,000 figure on the fatalities, President Aquino retorted that the government estimate (NDRRMC) was only 2,000 to 2,500 people who perished in the powerful storm. PNoy added that the 10,000 figure given may be due to the emotion attached to the number of those dead.

“Ten thousand, I think, is too much,” President Aquino replied. “They were too close to the incident. They didn’t have basis for it.” Mr. Aquino said the wrong estimate may be due to the emotional trauma of the local official deeply affected by the great tragedy.

Now that the official NDRRMC count of fatalities had reached more than double the 2,000 to 2,500 figure told to CNN’s Amanpour, PNoy now wants an investigation why the casualties have reached so high at more than 5,000. Furthermore, Police Chief Supt. Elmer Soria  for Regional Commander of Eastern Visayas, who gave the estimated 10,000 figure, was relieved of his position. The deputy presidential spokesperson made a specious excuse that Police Chief Soria has been tired and exhausted of his work for the past two weeks doing search and rescue work.

The latest development is that the relieved police officer has been reinstated. This is obviously in response to growing criticism in mainstream and social media. Of course, the Office of the President can always say that the police chief of Eastern Visayas has already rested and is now ready to report for work.

The issue of PNoy quibbling over the 10,000 initial estimate did not go unnoticed in print and broadcast media. Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros, widely perceived as pro-administration, wrote a scathing article on the mishandling of President Aquino in the aftermath of the super typhoon that killed thousands due to its tsunami-like storm surge. Mr. de Quiros wrote that PNoy’s quibble “trivialized” the suffering and misery of the victims of Yolanda. Likewise, no less than Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. said the same thing in his Teditorial of ANC’s evening news in the World Tonight.

My fearless forecast is that the final figure on the fatalities will reach 10,000 by the end of the year. This is not because I would like thousands more people to die. Rather, if you add the number of missing persons (close to 2,000) and those who may die due to diseases and starvation, the figure of 10,000 is not far-fetched. However, the national government can be expected to window-dress the number to between 8,000 and 9,000 or even lower at 7,000 to 8,000.

The other major issue against PNoy is his proclivity of blaming others, especially the local government units (LGUs) in Eastern Visayas, particularly in Tacloban and other municipalities in Leyte. It is already bad enough that the regional center of Eastern Visayas was already almost completely devastated. What is worse is for the President of the Philippines to blame the local executives.

What is even worst is what PNoy declared in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, that those who will receive the relief goods first are those whose local governments are organized.

This is like punishing the survivors of the super typhoon just because their local leaders are not organized as what the national government want them to be. How naive and cruel can PNoy get!

As several newspaper editorials and columns have pointed, President Aquino could have exercised humility in admitting the shortcomings or failure of his administration. Teddy Boy Locsin, a member of the Cabinet of then-President Corazon C. Aquino, has said the same based on their experiences with the calamities of the early 1990s during the administration of PNoy’s own mother.

Wouldn’t it be great if we have a President who would apologize to the Filipino people for the pain and misery that the slow response of his government has brought to the people in Leyte, Eastern Samar, Northern Cebu, and Northern Panay Island devastated by the super typhoon?

PNoy can learn a lesson in humility and accountability from the besieged Mayor of Toronto in Canada who was being pressured to resign for his taking drugs, alcohol and unruly behavior. While being grilled by members of the Toronto City Council, he admitted that he “fucked up.”

The Toronto mayor also admitted that his use of illegal drugs and alcohol were not due to stress of his work, but due to “sheer stupidity.” He said that he will take “full responsibility” for the consequences of his actions.

President Barack Obama recently apologized to the American people for the shortcomings and/or failure of his administration’s signature Health Care program. If the most powerful person in the world has the humility to say sorry, why can’t the pathetic President of the Philippines?

Rick B. Ramos at rbrparadigm@gmail.com

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14 Comments

  1. I hope this time that we learn our lesson to choice the right person for the position of the Presidency…I personally is not satisfied with our Govt… System.. most the executive people out there is not doing what is really right,urgent and most needed… and hope no more corruption on the help the other countries have given.. i pray for our Country to be more progressive and we hope for the best of this Country.. no more time for blaming … and who’s who ? to be blame and to be rejected .. just give the best…

  2. what is the problem with the number of dead….why are they continuously playing it down…if at all an accurate number should be the goal in the count, these filipinos died, for them to be trivialized by not having them counted is the height of arrogance and insensitivity. At least memorialize their lives they once lived, if not through their names by statistical numbers at least.

  3. what the f–k is wrong with admitting how many dead there are? if only to trivialize it…the dead are suppose to at least be given recognition that once they lived a life….one dead filipino is one to many ….so why keep it from the nation and the world…these people should be remembered if at all even by statistics alone…dumb f–k of a government you have there!!!

  4. The President always blames others for his failures. All the President has to say is to “acknowledging the disastrous effects of typhoon Yolanda and that no one including me is prepared for this scenario. This tragedy is beyond my control. It is all my responsibility and I apologize from the bottom of my heart”.

    The reaction of the people would be tremendous to his favor. Instead of acknowledging his shortcomings, he started firing and reprimanding his officers for not preparing. Even if you are prepared – no one and no one is safe in that scenario. It was the worst typhoon that ever happens on this earth.

    Also, Secretary Roxas – demanded the Mayor to resign for preparing. Sana nandodoon si Secretary Roxas noong typhoon na yoon – siguro pumasok siya sa loob ng tanki to seek shelter. If the mayor is not elected, definitely – Secretary Roxas fired the Mayor for unpreparedness. Secretary Roxas is a far cry of Senator Gerry Roxas. He too is not a good President. Ang akala ko noon ay mabuting maging Presidente. The typhoon Yolanda crisis clearly defines who is Secretary Roxas – a far cry from Senator Gerry Roxas.

    Ang mahirap sa mga taong ito ay nagpapa-pogi sila even in time of crisis. Be yourself men.

  5. I never had faith in BS Aquino. It took over 3 years for the rest of the nation to realize what I knew all along. Incompetent, ambivalent, ego trippers, power mad, delusional, tanga, yabang are just some descriptions for this admin.

  6. It is not just a question of humility but maturity. People who cannot accept their mistakes will not correct their mistakes and learn from them.

    It is interesting to note that even preschool children in advanced countries are taught that they will make mistakes and should learn from them. In fact, if we examine our lives, we tend to learn better from our mistakes. Learning from our mistakes and accepting criticisms from ourselves and from others is the path to a meaningful and honest life.

  7. I so not e expect Pnoy to dispense his duties as president well. It is known that he was under mental treatment while a student in Ateneo.
    His reactions to calamitous situations is one of indifference. This attitude/behavior is just but a cover up of ineptitude as a result of laziness or sloth which characterized a manic depressive individual.

  8. more than 3 weeks after, and there are still bodies on the streets uncollected…

    how in the world can this happen, under this government…magaling lang sila sa pulitikahan at pagnanakaw…!

    Sana meron nang mag coup’d’etat….sana…para mabawasan ang ating paghihirap sa ilalim ng mga pekeng leaders na ito…

  9. I would say mahilig si pnoy sa turo turo. I haven’t heard him at all take responsibility for anything, if at all, he would compare the old administration to his, to elevate his status, thinking that by pointing out the errors of the past, that would make him look better. tsk tsk tsk, we have a president who has never learned to grow up. I could imagine him as a boy saying “no, didn’t’ and the other sibling would say, “yes you did” and pinoy again, “no I didn’t’. If you are the president of a country, finger pointing is so despicable. let the bucket stop at you, don’t pass it on to others. Take responsibility, admit shortcomngs, and find solutions. That is what would command self respect and respect from others. Hindi ka na bata pinoy, you are an adult, and you are a president. Act like one please!

  10. When Aquino was interviewed about the slow response to the calamity,.e.g. disposing of the dead, clearing of the roads for the aid trucks, etc. he said the local government were expected to do that. My co-worker in Toronto said he was aghast. What an idiotic response he told me. Those people he is blaming are almost all dead he said. He has all entire machinery of the government at his command. He can ask 10 Engineering battalions at the first hour after storm. Are these people, supposed to help in times of disaster, your trusted leaders he said. I suppose so I said. Then he said “God save the Philippines”.

    Ralph Pan
    Bruce Power
    Engineering Design

  11. People are always talking about P’noy’s incompetence in handling the aftermath of Yolanda. But what most didn’t asked: Had P’noy any pre-disaster or preemptive action plan in place (evacuations, logistical and medical support when needed, organization, etc.) even before the onslaught of Yolanda? Mr. Gazmin should have initiated one being the chairman of the National Disaster Risk Control…department. Thousands of lives should have been saved…had the president prepared one.

    • They have a plan. As a matter of fact, he had a speech detailing the govt plan, a warlike plan so he said. But it was only a plan and a speech. No substance coz there was no preparation at all. Just mere talk as usual. Humility is not in aquino’s vocabulary. So we are just asking too much of him if we want him to apologize.

  12. Sadly, the bigger tragedy here is that a lot of the victims survived typhoon Yolanda but their chances of surviving Typhoon Pnoy is less likely as they still lay in misery & waiting for the medical attention they sorely need while Pnoy’s government is busy in its preoccupation of making sure that the death count from the storm is accurate to the last person and in line with Pnoy’s own estimate.