Where’s the president? ‘Not in Japan,’ says Palace | Inquirer News

Where’s the president? ‘Not in Japan,’ says Palace

PRESIDING VIA ZOOM President Marcos on Saturday leads a meeting by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to assess the impact of Severe Tropical Storm “Paeng.” —PHOTO FROM BONGBONG MARCOS FACEBOOK

PRESIDING VIA ZOOM | President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. lead a meeting on Saturday of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to assess the impact of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng. (Photo from his from Facebook account)

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “is not in Japan,” according to a terse statement from Malacañang on Sunday, as it dodged questions about his whereabouts amid the devastation of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae) in many parts of the country.

Cheloy Garafil, officer in charge of the Office of the Press Secretary, issued the statement after rumors swirled on social media that Marcos had flown unannounced to Japan while the country was reeling from the disaster.


But the Palace official didn’t give other information or respond to questions about where Marcos was staying over the weekend, as he had not appeared in person during government briefings on the damage and death toll from Paeng’s onslaught.


As of Sunday afternoon, the hashtag “NasaanAngPangulo” — or “where is the President?” — was trending on Twitter, fueling criticism of Marcos as another leader who was nowhere to be found during crises after his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, who had been the subject of the same hashtag in the past.

On Saturday, the president presided via Zoom over a meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), as speculations circulated on Twitter and Facebook about his current location.

The meeting in the council office at Camp Aguinaldo was aired on RTVM Malacañang and state television.

The day before, Palace functionaries told reporters that Marcos and his family were heading to or were already in his home province of Ilocos Norte for the long holiday weekend.

‘Full council’

This appeared to have been confirmed by pictures posted on Sunday afternoon on the Facebook page of “Dawang’s Eatery” in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte’s capital, with a caption saying the president, together with his son Vincent and nephew Gov. Matthew Manotoc, ate lunch there.

The video feed from the president early during the meeting showed him against a background of what appeared to be a kitchen or pantry, with a sink, water faucet, oven toaster and bread toaster visible behind him.


The background was later blurred in subsequent video feeds.

Garafil’s statement said Marcos presided over the meeting of the “full council.”

But the live feed showed only about a dozen NDRRMC members who were physically present, including the chair, Department of National Defense (DND) officer in charge Jose Faustino Jr., and three of the four vice chairs: Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo and Science Secretary Renato Solidum.

The other members of the 40-member council presumably attended the meeting virtually, like the president, as the monitor in the council office showed other people present online, aside from invited officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Republic Act No. 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which created the NDRRMC, designates the DND chief as the council’s chair.

There is no specific provision in the law authorizing the president to preside over the council meeting. In past administrations, however, presidents typically met with council members to get briefings and give instructions about disaster response.

‘Telling sign’

Many Twitter users criticized Marcos for supposedly being oblivious to the massive death toll in the BARMM.

Economist and columnist JC Punongbayan tweeted, “Where exactly is the president? Why is his background like that, and why can he only attend the briefing via Zoom?”

Others recalled how, at the height of Supertyphoon Karding last September, the president’s team posted a video blog of his time in New York before addressing the nation as it was being battered by the storm.

Civil society groups also said Marcos, the concurrent agriculture secretary, was “slacking off” and “failing to show up.”

His physical absence during the disaster “is a very telling sign that Marcos Jr. has neither sense of urgency nor real intent to do his job as the President of our disaster-stricken country,” said Zoe Caballero, chair of peasant advocacy group National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates-Youth.

Zenaida Soriano, chair of peasant women’s group Amihan, also scored the president for “seemingly failing to learn from past lessons and is not even showing any trace of preparation in facing a crisis.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chair Rafael Mariano criticized Marcos for repeatedly saying he would “only get in the way” of relief efforts when he should be giving clear marching orders to his bureaucracy.


Bongbong Marcos on Paeng death toll: Why were they not evacuated immediately?

Bongbong Marcos urged: Declare national state of calamity due to Paeng


© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.