It took a super typhoon to expose the super-incompetence of PNoy’s presidency. The slow response to the super storm by the national government confirms that a Student Council Government has been running our poor country for the past three years and almost five months. The question now is: Can the Philippines afford to have more of the same for another two years and seven months with the same incompetent leadership?
A day before Super Typhoon Yolanda struck and devastated Eastern Visayas, President Aquino reassured the Filipino people that 30 planes and helicopters from the Philippine Air Force and 20 ships from the Philippine Navy were ready to provide rescue and relief operations. However, after the super storm struck with all its fury, these aircrafts and ships were nowhere to be found except for the two ubiquitous Hercules C-130 planes.
No less than CNN raised the issue on the unfulfilled promise of President B. S. Aquino 3rd. If memory serves, it was CNN’s correspondent Andrew Stevens who told Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government when the latter visited Tacloban that the assurance made by President Aquino simply “did not happen.” Stevens arrived in Tacloban a day before the super storm struck on 8 November 2013.
It was bad enough that the planes, helicopters and ships promised by PNoy seemed to have been lost in the Bermuda Triangle. However, what is worse was that government bureaucratic red tape further delayed the response of non-government and foreign organizations to the aftermath of the devastation in Leyte and Eastern Samar.
Roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ships could have transported the direly needed relief goods at the earliest time possible. However, the maritime authorities under the Department of Transportation & Communications (DOTC) did not act with any sense of urgency on the needed permits for vessels that will now operate outside their franchise.
It took a week before a Ro-Ro ship carrying relief stocks of the Philippine Red Cross arrived at the most devastated town in Eastern Samar on 15 November 2013. When the MV Starlite Navigator arrived in Guiuan, the crew unloaded 300 tons of food, bottled water, medicines and many other provisions. They were met by villagers with jubilation who thought that they have been forgotten and abandoned. (Inquirer, 22 November 2013)
The useless Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) of the much-maligned DOTC did not have capacity for foresight to see to the gridlock in the Port of Matnog in Sorsogon. Marina did not anticipate the influx of cargo and passengers vehicles from Luzon headed for Eastern Visayas. Hence, there was a 7 to 10-kilometer traffic of trucks, vans and cars in Matnog that was reported in ANC TV network on the same day of Friday, 15 November 2013.
The lack of Ro-Ro ships at Matnog to ferry hundreds of trucks, vans and cars caused the gridlock. There were only eight ferry boats plying the Matnog, Sorsogon—Allen, Northern Samar route with 10 to 14 trips daily. The number of vessels should have been at least doubled to 16 and eventually tripled to 24 even just for a week to ease the traffic and for the relief goods to reach the victims in Leyte and Eastern Samar.
What is deeply disturbing with President B. S Aquino 3rd is that it took him ten days before he visited the devastated towns of Ormoc in Leyte and Guian in Eastern Samar. He cited the dubious reasons why he and aid have not arrived earlier. One pathetic excuse that P-Noy used was that they needed information to whom to send the relief goods. Yet the Philippine Red Cross and the U.S. government were able to do it ahead.
CNN was able to visit Guiuan not once, but twice last week before PNoy did. Anderson Cooper visited Guiuan on 13 November using the advanced US Marine MV-22 Osprey aircraft. CNN’s Ivan Warson visited the same place two days after. Subsequent relief supplies were sent to the typhoon victims in Guiuan using the same Osprey planes.
The truth is that PNoy has never been good with “Crisis Management.” He demonstrated it on the second month of his presidency during the August 2010 Hostage Incident Debacle in Luneta (Rizal Park). It was a crisis when the entire country did not feel and see that there was a president in charge. A busload of tourists from Hong Kong were taken as hostages and some were killed because the situation was badly mishandled.
Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma said in a press conference more than a week ago that the President is “supervising” the disaster rescue and relief efforts after the tasking of the different Cabinet Secretaries were announced. This is really funny on the President “Supervising.” When has PNoy supervised anything in his life? Besides, a Chief Executive Does Not “Supervise.” He Leads, Executes and Delegates.
What is most revealing on the Mega Incompetence of PNoy is that he, as President, has not complied with a provision of RA 10121, the law that created the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) for its proper funding. This explains the poor preparedness and slow response of the national government to devastation of natural calamities like Super Typhoon Yolanda.
My colleague Rigoberto Tiglao revealed in his column on Monday, 18 November 2013, that President B. S Aquino 3rd has not given the revolving fund of P1.0 billion for the NDRRMC in the past three years (2011-2013). What PNoy had done is to just continue with the previous annual budget of P100 million of the old National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). The national government can easily afford to give P1 billion to fund NDRRMC, which is less than 1.0 percent of the P2-trillion 2013 budget.
The worst part is that PNoy apparently has not read the provisions of the law that created NDRRMC just over a month before he became president. It is clear on the role of the NDRRMC law on the disaster preparedness and relief response. President Aquino insisted in his interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that “under our system,” it is the local government that is the one supposed to do it. Pathetic.
Rick B. Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org