Out of control

18

KATRINA STUART SANTIAGO

Someone should tell the President to stop talking, and for his communications team to take control. Because the crisis in Marawi has revealed that he is preconditioned, at the worst time, to say the worst things.

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It doesn’t matter if he’s here to begin with, or he’s arriving from a foreign trip. It doesn’t even matter that he has heard the public outcry against the martial law declaration, the fears that have been in the newspapers, on social media, out on the streets. He says what he wants. No one stops him.

Right there is why he is the worst leader to have at a time like this. There is no sense of control. No sense of order. There is no sense that he knows what he’s doing. And it gets worse.

A Russian junket
It was bad enough that on May 23, no one was in charge.

The first news report declared that the firefight between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Maute fighters started at 2 p.m. When we started hearing about the Maute members being seen in different places in Marawi, it was in the afternoon. During that stretch of time, there was nothing to be heard from Malacañang – not a peep. By evening AFP spokesman Restituto Padilla declared that whatever was going on in Marawi was “AFP-initiated.”

Soon after, ThinkingPinoy talks to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. via Facebook live, and he contradicts Padilla: “No, no, no, no. What he meant might have been that the Armed Forces is actually in operations, they have ongoing operations against one very well-known terrorist leader, so sila ang nagsimula no’n.”

Drawing the line between what was happening in Basak Malutlut where the AFP had ongoing operations to get the terrorist leader, and what was going on in Marawi, Esperon further said: “It could be related, (but) yung attack sa hospital could be a diversionary tactic, or there could be some situations that are developing simultaneously.”

Soon after that interview with Esperon, Padilla released a written statement, repeating his earlier one about this being an AFP-initiated attack.

Silence from Malacañang. No one to clarify contradicting statements. Andanar, Abella and even Mocha were in Russia. Walang tao sa tindahan. Nasa junket lahat.

Repercussions, outcomes
Meanwhile, at around the same time that Esperon and Padilla were trying to allay our fears, media was interviewing the people of Marawi on live television, with CNN Philippines taking the lead and with Pia Hontiveros at the helm. The latter is crucial because Hontiveros has the professionalism to get stories straight, asking the right questions so that we might have a better sense of what’s happening on the ground.

And of course whatever we were hearing both from the news, and what was being posted on social media – credible and incredible – was enough for the rest of the country to take notice. What is going on in Marawi?

No one answers from Malacañang. At some point in the evening Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año would start speaking for the AFP in different news shows, asserting that everything was under control.

Close to midnight we (finally!) see Abella of the Presidential Communications Office, and all he had to say was that the President wanted him to announce that martial law was being declared in all of Mindanao – contradicting the idea that things were “under control.”

Through to midnight, early morning, and until the following day, we would hear it being repeated by government officials and trolls: stop spreading false news! Here! Here’s an official statement from the military! From the President’s men! This is what we listen to!

But that is to put into question stories from the ground, first-hand information that was being gathered by mainstream media, from the people themselves: Mike Enriquez interviewing residents ready to evacuate, a priest talking about a Church being burned down. How could those stories not matter?

When you have a Presidential Communications Office that is deathly silent, we listen to people, and we cross our fingers that we’re not being had.

Gag him
Meanwhile the President himself is being had. As of today, four days since he declared martial law because, among other things, the chief of police of Malabang, Lanao del Sur was beheaded, and a hospital has been taken over, both these narratives have already been put into question by people on the ground, and well, by the chief of police himself being alive (Inquirer.net, 26 May).

But the real enemy might not be the wrong information being fed the President. It is the President himself.

Arriving from Russia, the President’s strong man image was on overdrive, talking martial law, and throwing around a joke about having left the document behind, in a hotel room. A joke that was unnecessary, that was making light of a declaration that weighs heavy on the heart of the nation, and is reason for fear for everyone – writers and critics, activists and civilians. Fears of abuse and violence can make one lose sleep over this martial law declaration.

On May 26, the President comes out on television yet again, speaking with soldiers, his macho man image larger than life: he takes responsibility for all that will happen during martial law, he will go to jail for soldiers’ indiscretions: “Ako na’ng magpakulong, pag naka-rape ka ng tatlo, aminin ko na akin ‘yon.”

You did not need to go there, Mr. President. And there is absolutely no excuse for statements like that one, said in jest or seriously, in a time of martial law and otherwise.

Your trolls ask that we stop criticizing you. You need to get a grip.

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18 Comments

  1. Ano ba ang mali sa sinabi ni katrina? Paki isplika nga po sa sarili nating wika. Hindi po ako dilawan at hindi din po ako maka duterte.

  2. The reports from Mindanao are what should be expected in the “fog of war”. People on the scene only see a small part of what is going on at any time. Even today it takes awhile to piece together the whole story. This is especially true when families are collaborating with the enemy to protect family members in the enemy militias.
    As for Duterte’s big mouth and misstatements and exaggerations he is fortunate to have a similar character on the stage with him in Donald Trump. They may end up allies. Trump is hated by all of the US establishment (Democrat and Republican) and especially by the news media in every form. Duterte has no shortage of media critics and leftist “yellows” who want him out. One thing is certain, Duterte will fight for the Philippines where his predecessor failed to even try to save his police commando’s from a massacre. Duterte is not all bad news.

  3. unfortunately, the president communication team are all useless and do not have the courage to tell dudirty to tone down his dirty mouth. they are there to justify anything coming out from the great president filthy mouth.

  4. I am glad to say that the vast majority of mindanao and visayas do not share nor agree with your sentiments.

  5. Despite the shortcomings, I’d put my faith in PRRD rather than on Noynoy or Mar or Frank, at any given time. Would you prefer Noynoy and his ilk?

  6. arnel amador on

    you have no idea where you are going, my dear. dig more deeper about the real issue here…

  7. You’ve made all these points in your FB feed in the past weeks with even more emphasis, it seems you are merely cribbing these and submitted another article to force your opinions on your readers thinking that since we did not object to your posts, we will buy it wholesale this time.
    Sorry but you cant just tell us all this, true or not, and expect us to believe all these, specially since, fearing dislikes and negative comments, you’ve DISABLED BOTH options from all your feeds.

  8. You’ve made all these points in your FB feed in the past weeks with even more emphasis, it seems you are merely cribbing these and submitted another article to force your opinions on your readers thinking that since we did not object to your posts, we will buy it wholesale this time.
    Sorry but you cant just tell us all this, true or not, and expect us to believe all these, specially since, fearing dislikes and negative comments, you’ve DISABLED BOTH options from all your feeds.

  9. You’re maybe right. This is not the time to make a joke or boost the morale of the soldier by that rape joke. What if a soldier took him seriously and rape women in the evacuation center in Marawi because it’s Martial Law and the soldier will think that everything they do right or wrong the president will back them up.

  10. IHaveSomethingToSay on

    With all due respect, this is a chaotic time. And you expect straight up clean information? Me, I don’t even expect 100% truth of facts being spread by news/government. Because situation in the ground will always be different. Please be realistic.

    And please, please, it is so obvious that you’re only getting into the same pool of rape joke crybabies. get over it, it is what it is, a JOKE. what a silly feminist. Of all the big talk the president said on that speech, that’s the only thing you chose to listen to. If you have wit, you can read between the lines. The president is too smart for simple minded people like you and that criminal Clinton.

    • Some know-it-alls, like this Stuart-Santiago woman, seem to think that leadership is that simple. She should have run for president, instead of being just a freaking columnist! Too negative and defeatist and chooses to look at the trees not the forest. She makes a big freaking deal about the different versions of events from the AFP and the national security staff. Hell, in a fluid live and developing situation, that happens. Not excusing it but it happens. Later when folks get a better look at the situation in the battlefield, that’s when accurate information comes out. But Stuart-Santiago does not see that, neither does she see the DECISIVENESS exhibited by the president to deal with a serious situation. As to the rape joke, indeed it’s inexcusable and Pres. Duterte should have controlled his mouth. But then again, aren’t intelligent (I’m just assuming she is) folks like Stuart-Santiago supposed to learn by now Pres. Duterte’s penchant to hyperbole? That folks like her continue to dissect the president’s every utterance without any attempt to apply iota of common sense by interpreting them literally seems to me like being a columnist is not necessarily a proof of intelligence!

  11. Irenea R. Vallestero on

    PRRD is not too perfect; still, I trust him. And, thank God, PRRD is the one in charge.

    • You are correct. Indeed, Pres. Duterte is not perfect. But given the state of our nation, he is the best that we could possibly have in this particular point in our nation’s history. DECISIVE and HANDS ON.. Notice him always In the scene when emergencies occur to lead and project that someone is in charge. Had it been a BS Aquino, the nation would still not be hearing about the present development in Marawi City, given that clueless, lazy man’s habit of disappearing during emergencies – remember Typhoon Yolanda and Mamasapano? – and emerging from his cave only days after when his presence didn’t matter anymore.

  12. armando flores on

    Duterte is a great pretender. For all we know he would be using this marawi incident to perpetuate himself in power. He exaggerates his image as a fighter when he is really just an instigator. He uses others to kill others and encourages his men to commit rape of marawi women by assuring that he would take the credit for such a crime. What kind of a president is he? He is leading the country to perdition.

  13. Honestly, Latrina Katrina – was he the worst leader again for this Marawi crisis?

    How small minded is your world? that you have to pick on the small issues about Duterte – maybe he just said it in a jest – as in not serious about what he said.

    Oh my world, you are acting like acting like that Ressa and Pia persons – you are all wearing glasses, skinny and almost like typical little princesses of the world who cant accept the real world out there – where cussing exist – you come from a very sheltered world where cursing is not allowed and you cant even hear them.

    Come on – the world does not revolve on you. If you have anything to say about how Duterte acts and says things – give it straight to Martin Andanar or write to Malacanyang. Why can’t you do this? If he listens that is good and if he does not – then that is the time you write about it.

    There are bigger issues that are currently on the president’s hands at the moment – or the whole Philippines – if this terrorism is not going to stop – will you become a responsible Filipino? Come on. Use your intelligence on better things that can help the country – rather than become a problem yourself to everyone who wants to help. You are almost becoming like Pia Ranada and Ressa from Rappler – who are vilified by internet and almost social media, facebook, youtube and everywhere – now they are the ones who are out of control and must be totally gagged. If they are your friends – honestly – those journalists are an embarrassment to being Filipinos – here’s hoping we don’t have to put you along them.

    Get into the bigger issues – not something that will get Duterte to just laugh at you – have some respect or create some respect for yourself.

    • do you really think if you write straight to andanar, things will change. andanar is dudirty robot and they do not have mind of their own. most probably the letter will go straight to the trash bin.

  14. “The President is a reflection of people’s values and aspirations”

    the philippines is doomed.