• Super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ defines Aquino presidency

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    Rick B. Ramos

    Rick B. Ramos

    In her interview with President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd last Wednesday, CNN’s news anchor Christiane Amanpour asked him a loaded question if his administration’s response to the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda will define his presidency. President Aquino did not answer the question directly, as can be expected, and instead veered to the other disaster-stricken areas with “ minimal” casualties.

    However, there was something shocking that President B.S. Aquino 3rd told CNN’s Chief International Correspondent that seemed to be out of touch with reality based on CNN’s own coverage of the disaster in Tacloban and other parts of Leyte and Eastern Samar. It can be the case of a Chief Executive who is honestly clueless about what is going on with his administration or perhaps suffering from absolute mental dishonesty.

    PNoy told Ms. Amanpour, a veteran journalist of world-celebrity status, that the “immediate response of the national government (to the aftermath) reassured the vast majority of our people.” There is Nothing Farther than the Truth.

    Admission

    There was hardly any government response to speak of. On the sixth day of the super-typhoon Yolanda, the Aquino administration finally admitted their slow response and “lapses” after a storm of criticism from international and local media, as well as from the United Nations.

    After the devastation of Friday last week, what PNoy simply did was he presided over a meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) on Saturday, a day after the super-typhoon hit northern Leyte and Eastern Samar. Then on Sunday, he briefly visited Tacloban where he walked out of a meeting after hearing the 95 percent devastation report of the NDRRMC Executive Director, but minus any details.

    After the sojourn in Tacloban, P-Noy together with DILG Secretary Mar Roxas proceeded to Roxas City, the capital of Capiz province located in northeast Panay Island. It is amazing that the President did not visit the other adjacent towns like Palo, and Ormoc City in northwest Leyte (facing Cebu) that was on the way from Tacloban to Roxas City.

    Neither did P-Noy visit Guiuan, Eastern Samar that was worse devastated than Tacloban.

    CNN has already visited Guiuan twice in a span of two-three days.

    The first visit was with celebrity correspondent and news anchor Anderson Cooper who flew in with Philippine Navy Captain Roy Vincent Trinidad who said, “Guiuan is worse than Tacloban … (people with) sense of despair and hopelessness and wandering aimlessly.” CNN’s Ivan Watson visited Guiuan last Friday and saw the worse devastation for himself.

    Flight

    It has been seven days since the super typhoon struck and the people of Tacloban still have No Food, No Potable Water, No Medicine, No Shelter and No Electricity. No less than Tacloban City Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez had issued an appeal last Wednesday for the residents to leave the city. The indefatigable local chief executive urged them to flee to other cities since there is barely any food, water, medicine and shelter left for them.

    The front page headlines of the leading newspapers last Wednesday showed the sheer desperation of the situation in Tacloban,Leyte. The headlines and their stories are a harsh indictment of the dismal failure of the Aquino administration on its rescue and relief operations not just in Tacloban, but other devastated areas such as Palo, Ormoc and Guiuan. Thousands waiting desperately at the regional airport of Eastern Visayas hoping that they can get a ride away from a place one resident referred to as “Worse Than Hell.”

    On 13 November 2013, the headline of the Philippine Daily Inquirer screamed: “Mad Rush out of Tacloban; Thousands foiled in bid to leave devastated city.” The Philippine Star screamed: “We have to Flee!” The Manila Standard screamed: “Escape from Hell.” The Daily Tribune screamed: “Survivors Seek Escape from No Man’s Land.”

    It was only on the same day, Wednesday, 13 November 2013, the Fifth Day of Super-Typhoon Yolanda that the Office of the President finally took a direct hand with the command conference of Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras presiding over a NDRRMC meeting.

    It was only that same day that Mr. Almendras finally admitted the “glitches in coordination” of the National Government and still “waiting for the Plan of the DSWD.”

    I believe that Super typhoon Yolanda has defined the Presidency of P-Noy. The severe criticisms from the victims who survived the catastrophe and the media coverage from local and international news organizations easily confirm the obvious failure in the search, rescue and relief efforts of the national government. Even the volunteers of medical missions, non-government and foreign aid organizations like the Red Cross, USAID, the World Food programme (WFP) and police and military forces have witnessed the chaos.

    The assessment made by the CNN reporters Paula Hancock and Andrew Stevens on the inhuman conditions in Tacloban when they were interviewed by Anderson Cooper has indicated the dismal failure in the disaster rescue and relief operations in the past six days.

    Mr. Cooper has reported that he has not seen “any organized large scale search” for survivors. Ms. Hancocks confirmed Copper’s observation that she has not seen any “systematic search for survivors” that is what is done in any disaster

    CNN’s news anchor Rosemarie Church commented on something intriguing and insightful. She said that you would expect the Philippines to have developed by now its capability in Disaster Relief Operations since we are so used to calamities—from typhoons to earthquakes. The Philippines has over 20 typhoons per year.

    Correspondents of CNN have commented that the rescue and relief operations in Tacloban is both slow and there is are no real organized and concerted efforts. Then on its sixth day, relief goods were just trickling in with No food, clean water and medicine. Anderson Cooper reported that the only the makeshift hospital operating in Tacloban has virtually no more medical supplies left.

    Glacial pace

    CNN reporters have covered many other disasters before and they say that the glacial pace of rescue and relief operations has caused desperation amongst the people. Perhaps the jaded correspondents have not seen so many victims –including men – in tears.

    No less than the United Nations Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos has complained the delivery of the relief goods is “far too slow.” She sadly said that “we have let the people down.” Of course, the “we” is not the United Nations (UN) that provided the relief goods. It is the Presidency of P-Noy that has now been defined.

    Rick B. Ramos at rbrpilipinas@gmail.com

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    14 Comments

    1. sofronio babula on

      If the president is not thinking about a revenge especially that waray waray region did not vote solidly for him during the recent election or his putting politics beside his decision to help, then I would have negative comment, We know he is doing more than enough but as human being there are lapses and he should always accept hisw many mistakes. All the lapses and mistakes of his secretaries should also be accepted by him through command responsibility. Nobody is perfect in this world but the president should be honest, accept and agree of his mistakes and also do or die to help the victims. He must kick or fire his inner circle if they are not doing the same as he does. My only comment is these two namely, Mar Roxas and Ping Lacson if they are doing the job because they want the credit for the coming 2016 presidential election. Please Roxas and Lacson put politics away from your mind but do the job 100%. Whatever the result will somehow benefit you for as long as you first focus to help the cities, municipalities badly hit by the super typhoon. In so doing, you are not only doing for the good of the people but also to God.

    2. Ako ay Pilipino on

      Thank you Mr. Rick Ramos for the very good commentaries. We have still 3 more years to endure this government. Filipinos may either sink and swim because of its incompetence! God is only our hope.

    3. meaning we have a weak president and cabinet members graduated with masters degree and mostly belongs to the elite class of society but don’t know what is the meaning of immediate response and public service . Most of them only talking and pin pointing to each other.

    4. Agree entirely, Yolanda has shown the ineptness of the current administration. It provides an abject lesson in voting for the right people instead of voting for people because they are rich, come from a political dynasty or are famous.

    5. “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17…Lord, thank you!

    6. nakakalungkot yung nangyayari sa mga nasalanta.. yung pinag daanan nilang trauma tapos up to now wala pa ding support,food, medicine na kailangang kailangan nila.. tapos mapapanood mo na madami ang nag do donate na asan na bakit di nakakarating sa mga tao na to na pagod na gutom na, nagkakasakit na.. nakakaawa yung mga kababayan natin na naiipit sa anong sistema ba? sa anong prblema ba? na nakanino ba yung pagkukulang? kailangan na ng mga taong ito na mahatiran ng pagkain, at gamot na sana yun yung unang pinag isipan kung paano gagawin na mapabilis.. nakakadismaya lang makikita mo mapapanood mo na dumating donations na ganito, nakikita mo na ang daming goods pero andun lang naka tambak.. ang dami ng nagugutom kelan pa dadating sa kanila yang mga goods na yan pag patay na lahat sa gutom.. nakakalungkot na sistema ng pinas.. kasi me protocol na dapat sundin.. hello dapat pa ba antayin ang LGU pra mag distribute nyan.. nasalanta nga din sila eh.. kung baga napilayan.. tapos kung sino pang pilay ang paglalakarin mo.. makakarating nga sa oras ang padala nyo na tulong kung ganyan..

    7. JayVee Valenzuela on

      First I would like say that your article was very insightful but unfortunately only those of us residing in the Philippines are familiar with your column. If only the rest of the world was aware of what really was going on, then perhaps in the far future, our country can recover from the devastation and even more important, we can prosecute those that were involved in the PDAF scam. Yes, I still have not forgotten that issue, although I would not be surprised if this Yolanda was in the eyes of those involved, a blessings so that the attention is no longer towards them!

    8. One of the things that greatly delayed the movement of goods is the apparent way of documenting and repacking the goods that are coming in for those affected. Why can’t they simply identify the goods and put together a list of relief goods for distribution but instead of re-packing these, simply put together a distribution center where each type will be given to each typhoon victim much like the way they do so in food mess halls where the victims form a line and the first item to be given to the victims is a numerical ID with someone authenticating it by signature each time they go to any distribution center. The next segment of the line would be the sack releasing which will be used to contain the relief goods, that will continue on down the line until all goods for distribution is provided into the sack. This system will cut down the time of repacking the goods.

    9. Minerva Hoffman on

      This just one of the realities of being poor in the Philippines. Poor Filipino life is a worth nothing. This disaster touches people’s hearts. There’s a lot of tragic endings but one of the positive things that has come to light is the government’s unpreparedness and impotence. Surely, the next disaster will not have the same endings. We all hope that everyone learns a great lesson from this. That tax payers money and international aid will be put where they belong to. The Philippines need well built infrastructures, maintain and increase their rescue equipment, new planes and fleet of ship, medical supplies and facilities, better trained military personnel and disaster plan that actually work etc.

      I hope the people will start making the right choices in term who they put into power. They need intelligent, honest, hard working law makers who will protect and support its citizens and will provide peace, security, equality, increase job creation, better health care, education and improve quality of life among its people. They need to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.

      I love the Philippines and the Filipinos but so thankful to God that I was chosen to live someplace else where people live in peace, security and abundance.

    10. I see no reason that these CNN correspondents are or do not know what were happening in the storm devastated areas. They were there and reported what they saw and observed. They are not playing politics and/or politicians.

      I agree with you. This tragedy defines the Presidency of President BS Aquino. He is not really prepared to be President for our country. He did not ambition ed to be President. Did he? The Liberal Party pushed him to be their standard bearer due to the death of President Cory Aquino for sympathy votes. It happened to his mother. History repeats itself.

      Six (6) years is too long for an unprepared President.

    11. sir, the Philippine president is so clueless and even his advisers. I think he is still playing politics because the province of Leyte voted against the administration candidates. This president is a vengeful man.