Not the time for politicking
This was evident in complaints raised by Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez and Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco about the distribution of relief aid by the Cebu provincial government to northern Cebu towns hit by supertyphoon Yolanda.
Both mayors lamented that they were bypassed in the distribution of Capitol assistance to their constituents who lost their homes and are now surviving on assistance extended to them by their local officials and the Capitol.
Frasco in particular was emphatic when he accused Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III of ordering the Provincial Social Welfare Office not to channel the relief goods to the mayor’s office. He admonished the governor for not following protocol.
We’ve seen this pattern before among some local and national officials when a natural calamity hits their areas. The practice has been rooted and had rotted in the country’s political culture for so long that it had become a sad but accepted reality.
President Benigno Aquino III perpetuated that reality when he visited Governor Davide at the Capitol, escorted by former congressman Tomas Osmeña – Liberal Party comrades – and ignored Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama after the Oct. 15 earthquake.
This practice of political selectivity should stop. The model for solidarity among public officials of different political affiliations remains the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when then New York City mayor Rudy Guilani, a Republican, stood shoulder to shoulder with then US senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, a Democrat as they went to Ground Zero, talked and encouraged firefighters and police, and comforted families of the victims.
That would not be the case with Filipino officials and politicians, who would each go their separate ways and go to great lengths not to be seen with each other.
We couldn’t care less if they don’t talk to each other, much less play mahjong, or sing karaoke songs in front of a paid audience.
Few would care if they posed for group shoots, flashing their plastic smiles and otherwise pretending to present a show of solidarity for their constituents.
In catastrophes like this one caused by super typhoon “Yolanda” what people really care about, especially the victims and their families, is when they would receive assistance.
Everyone sees that the Aquino government is overwhelmed by the humanitarian crisis in Tacloban City, Samar, Palawan and northern Cebu.
Were it not for the assistance of the international community, they would be in over their heads by now, not unlike the typhoon victims.
Local officials should check their egos at the door and just make sure that social welfare offices, private volunteers and aid groups do their jobs right in providing assistance to their constituents.
Nobody will stop to ask whose party they belong to.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.