Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Snippy

This is my column today, November 11, 2014.


I must admit that there have been days and occasions when I actually felt that the President was justified for being snippy.  We do have the tendency to assign superhuman qualities to our leaders, particularly the President, and expect him to provide solutions to our many problems promptly, nicely, and in a comprehensive manner.
And then, many of the influentials in this country do tend to complicate rather than help matters; and very often, what is being passed off as constructive criticism or advice is really nothing more than just a pathetic attempt to draw attention to themselves and their politically-vested interests.  For example, we all know that the flailing and the caterwauling being done regularly by those accused of stealing public funds are really just desperate attempts to diffuse the situation or to buy time.  So on these occasions, a cutting remark from the Taray King that immediately smashes all the political and diplomatic gobbledygook comes across as necessary and sometimes oddly appeasing. 
However, we have noted that the President seemed to have gotten into the habit of being snippy lately.  We can make allowances for impatience; he is an extremely busy person and there must be a million and one things that need to be attended to.  We can even forgive the air of superiority; he is President after all and a little assertiveness and authoritarian tendency comes with the territory.  A flash of anger or annoyance often gets things done faster. 
But how are we supposed to take the “this-is-all-the-thanks-I-get?” tone as if we owe him a huge favor for the fact that he is the most powerful person in this country?  What is becoming more and more evident each day is that being President and Chief Executive of the country seems to be something Aquino considers as an ordeal, a burden and imposition, a heavy cross that he would rather not carry. While others think of the Presidency as a rare privilege and great honor, he seems to consider it a huge sacrifice on his part.
This was painfully evident during the President’s remarks during the commemoration of the first year anniversary of the Yolanda tragedy in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.  It was an occasion for remembrance, for rekindling hope, and more importantly, for promoting a more collaborative approach to rebuilding communities and lives.  Sadly, the President chose to use the occasion to chide critics and to scold everyone else for complaining about the slow pace of the government’s response to the plight of the supertyphoon victims.  It is sad when government seems to blame the victims for their plight.
While private and church-based organizations such as the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation have been able to respond quickly and more effectively to the needs of the survivors in a number of towns and in Ormoc City, the government has been stuck in the planning stages.  The difference is that the leaders behind Tzu Chi think of the rebuilding efforts that they do not as work or obligation, but as altruism.  They are genuinely happy to help.
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People in Leyte are alarmed over the way the way government is managing the matter of relocating the Tacloban Airport Terminal to a supposedly safer and more disaster-proof location, which happens to be in Palo, the town next to Tacloban which is being ruled by the Petillas, a close ally of the President and political opponents of the Romualdezes.  Of course the current Tacloban Airport is not exactly the best location – the runway is too short and it is along the fringes of the Cancabato Bay.  In fact, one can actually walk from the terminal to the beach. 
As it is, the utter lack of strategic planning and a collaborative approach to the ongoing repairs of the Tacloban Airport runway is already causing major problems to the people of Leyte.  Only small planes are allowed to land in the airport.  It’s as if the people of Tacloban and Leyte are deliberately being made to suffer for the fact that the local government is at odds with the national government.  A one-way ticket from Manila to Tacloban is currently priced at around P9,000 on average and the seats are scarce!  The repair works are being done at a snail’s pace, there are no definitive schedules for completion, and worse, there are no attempts to communicate with the various stakeholders at all.

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