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ON TARGET

A hydrophobic president?

/ 11:42 PM October 03, 2011

President Noy—who got very good ratings in the latest popularity surveys—is not a hands-on leader during times of emergency or calamity when people need to be reassured by the Chief Executive that everything’s going to be fine.

His presence was needed in the flooded areas in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga at the height of typhoons “Quiel” but he chose to stay in the safety and comfort of Malacañang.

This is a president who doesn’t want floodwater to wet his feet and his pate soaked in rainwater.

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One is reminded of that Philippine Air Force general years ago who had himself carried piggyback-style by a subordinate because he didn’t want his boots to get wet after he disembarked from a boat.

It looks like P-Noy, the Armed Forces commander-in-chief, has the same mentality as that Air Force general.

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Can you blame the guy for thinking the way he does, considering that he belongs to the cacique or landlord class? P-Noy probably grew up believing that the poor can fend for themselves, since that’s how his family that runs Hacienda Luisita regards its plantation workers. His favorite line that the Filipino people are his boss—“Kayo ang Boss Ko”—rings hollow because he has not been to these typhoon-ravaged areas.

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The President’s rah-rah boys and girls, however, are quick to defend his absence. “What usually happens is that when he shows up in calamity areas, he becomes the focus, and not the victims,” said Undersecretary Abigail Valte, the Palace’s spokesperson.

“That’s precisely what the President wants to avoid. His point is that we should make sure that the national government is giving help,” she added.

The more Palace “communications experts” defend their president for not going to typhoon-ravaged places, the more they drown him in the quicksand of adverse public opinion.

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I chanced upon Sen. Bong Revilla distributing foodstuff to the typhoon victims last Saturday at the San Marcos Elementary School in Calumpit, Bulacan, which had been converted into an evacuation center.

Revilla’s presence was much appreciated by the calamity victims.

“Ibig pong sabihin sa pagdating niya rito ay ’di kami pinababayaan ng pamahalaang nasyonal (His coming here means that the national government has not abandoned us),” said an old woman, one among 500 families housed at the evacuation center.

If Revilla, a very popular movie star and legislator, can visit the typhoon victims, why can’t P-Noy do the same?

*   *   *

Billionaire tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan was with former Sen. Dick Gordon, Philippine Red Cross chair, all of Sunday when the latter visited several flood-ravaged places.

MVP saw for himself the plight of the victims and told Gordon he would send more help even if his subordinates had already done so.

Ramon Ang, president and CEO of San Miguel Corp., made his presence felt big-time when his boats conducted rescue sorties into flooded villages.

Ang ordered SMC to buy wooden-hulled and rubber boats with engines two years ago in the wake of Tropical Storm “Ondoy.”

Ang’s boats came in handy when “Pedring” and “Quiel” battered Central Luzon during the weekend.

If MVP and Ramon Ang showed concern for the plight of the typhoon and flood victims—when they didn’t have to—why couldn’t P-Noy do the same thing by showing up at the calamity areas?

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, floods, Philippines
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