Monday, December 19, 2011

Where Are You, Mr. President?

Typhoon Sendong (International name: Washi) devastated the city of Cagayan De Oro and Iligan in Eastern Mindanao and severely affected parts of Negros Oriental in Eastern Visayas.  In the aftermath, huge number of casualties (650+ as of this writing), scores missing and presumed dead and hundreds of thousands left homeless. And where was the Philippine President? 

Retrieved from by Joseph Morong
Yes, you read it right...he was at a party.  Was it okay? NO.  Not when hundreds of people, whole families even have been found dead and missing on that same day. The President and his advisers may say that the agencies in charge have been mobilized, local executives are in control, etc... yes, BUT for a disaster and tragedy as huge as this, the leader of the country needs to be there, to be seen and reassure people and to suffer with the those whose lives have been changed forever. I equate this devastation with that of Hurricane Katrina in the US where large parts of the city of New Orleans were literally leveled to the ground.  Was the US President visible and on top of the situation? Definitely.

I know that there is nothing the government can do now to prevent what happened and we can only help in the aftermath but for a leader to project a sense of apathy or indifference or for me unforgivable. I do not mean to trivialize a tragedy of any proportion but this is not a bus accident, for goodness sake!  A few persons suggested that perhaps he did not want people to compare him with GMA and her photo-ops, or for people to "snicker" or make a "heck" out of whatever he does.  Should he care what people say in this heart-breaking, gut-wrenching tragedy? I think not when you are doing the right thing.

There is nothing wrong with delegating roles, duties and responsibilities. A good leader does that but, this is not one of those things you delegate.  In a major crisis, there is a real need for the physical presence of a leader. This is one of those times in the history of a country that doubts about political motives should be set aside. It is not time to think of yourself.

The President has disappointed us once more.  He did it during the Luneta hostage fiasco and again, now.  How many more tragedies before this president finally decides to make himself do real work as the leader of the country. 

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