We’re provincial. In recent days people are finding fault left and right as to why the President hasn’t, isn’t, or wouldn’t go to grief stricken Mindanao. He didn’t in previous tragedies elsewhere and it comes back again now.

The argument remains the same. A president who travels to a tragedy-striken part of the country is being presidential. He goes there, of course to “survey” the situation so he could, in theory “Act” upon the plight of the people.

There is prevailing wisdom that having the President visit such a tragedy stricken area would somehow lift the people’s spirit. That they are being taken cared of or something like that. The only intrinsic value in it of course— is the public relations aspect.

Quite recently the Media and the political opposition cried foul that we have a President who is setting himself up as a dictator. He now controls all branches of government, they say. We have a Presidential-King. In fact, many of the commentaries, on Facebook, on Twitter, and blogs, and media say so.

“We don’t want this! Defend your Freedom!”


Now you have the same group of people crying to the President, “Please hand hold these people.” Show some empathy!

In the days preceding Sendong, there were PAGASA and NDRMC warnings. Whether those warnings were enough, or whether those reports were accurate or credible, should be the subject of an investigation. In fact, the media and everyone else for that matter, instead of crying foul over the lack of “empathy” from the President should be stitching the events leading up to Sendong and to discover where the lines of communication fell, if at all.

I mean, a real, credible, fact-finding, investigative work. Can our news media still do investigative work? You know without actual political leanings, without frills, without hysterics?

We spend so much time pondering if the President has empathy or if he should be going to Mindanao or not, and that’s time far too much wasted. Instead, we should be focusing our attention on relief operations. And as per some report, the government has as @puretuts pointed out in a tweet: “@carlosconde Tama po saturday pa nang morning kumilos na. My brother in DND helped coordinate with NDRCC/Pnoy”.

Over at Facebook, Rock Drillon published a photo, with a caption criticizing social media and media rumors that the President was out partying with artists. He wrote on his wall:

media reports:
unmindful of the cdo/iligan tragedy, president benigno aquino III was seen partying with artistas. [published photo of a series of tweet messages of an artista to a friend as proof of story (sic) which was shared in the internet. certain netizens felt heroic and helpful to the sendong victims by re-sharing photo and bashing the president.]

p-noy took a 5-minute break from monitoring and meetings on the sendong rescue and relief operations to join the nearby Christmas gathering of the PSG and their families.

media corrects itself but blames the president as quiet kasi.

So going back to relief operations, and by relief operations, and by mean, “We”, as in “WE the people”. That’s you and me. There is so much negativity going around and people trying to find fault in the President in every which corner, one wonders is it simply because there is something to critic, or simply for the sake of being critical? One can understand finding fault during a political crisis, but not when the nation finds itself, faced with such overwhelming tragedy that we should be all hands on deck on relief operations.

The news media called the President, a king in his crusade against a Chief Justice who accepted the position, perhaps less about a sense of decency, but instead about advancing himself and others. Dictator, King— they branded President Aquino.

It speaks of a provincial attitude now. Calling the President to handhold victims of a tragedy. Yesterday— I forget if it was radio or television— the mayor of Cagayan de Oro was being interviewed. And he was asked by the anchor of they needed body bags, and the mayor mentioned that the AFP commander in the area was next to him, telling him the military was sending over body bags.

My impression today is this. Unlike in previous tragedies, this government is acting, and has acted swiftly. Whether some of us ignored it, or not, that is no longer the problem of the government. That’s our problem, and our fault. We can quibble on the details in a month or two whether the government acted swiftly, or as fast as it could.

Without doubt there is much to be desired. We lost over a thousand people. We probably could have help save a lot of those lives, if our nation for example was less provincial. If our nation was more capable of not only using technology to our advantage, but trusting science to tell us what is going to happen. Humans can reasonably do that now. That’s the problem with hindsight. It has 20/20 vision. What we can do now is improve so there will be less people dying in the future.

And even if our nation did have the resources to look into and prepare using all this information— how are we going to shoe string it along in the wake of not just 9 years of GMA rule, but the mismanagement of past decades.

We go back again to the will of the people in May 2010: We want you to end corruption.

Change is always difficult.

The people doesn’t need a government to handhold it every time some tragedy strikes. It is how cult personalities get elected. It is how it is in the barrios and barangays. It is how politicians operate. “Oi, kawawa naman po kayo, eto ang pang palibing, eto ang pampaospital”.

Today, I am happy to hear over the radio that the department of health is giving advisories on proper burial. And they cited that this is what they learned from Ormoc. So bodies could be later identified. It is nice to hear that the NBI is gathering DNA samples so victims could be identified.

It is even better to hear people institutionalizing bayanihan. Here’s a Consolidated Google Doc on what’s needed, a missing person’s database, and where to send help.

And here’s a map of Sendong:

You can’t call a President-King on one day, ranting and raving that we shouldn’t have a king, and on the next day, demand that he be king and see his subjects, as if he was some personality-cult that the people need him to be seen to gain strength. We are not North Korea.

We don’t need the president to handhold people and to show, “Empathy”. He has phones. He has computers. He has minions. I want him to do his job. His job is to command, not to be a social worker, or to have a photo op. His job is to make sure government resources’ full might descends upon the people in need. It is our job— we the people, too to help those in need as well, in however way we can. Donate, pack, spread information, whatever. That’s how we change the Philippines. That’s how we get real. That’s how nation building begins. That’s when we stop being provincial, and leveling up.

Photo credit: Fizzer, via Rock Drilon on Facebook.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.