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Truth and lies on Yolanda response

First, President Aquino accuses media of too much negativism instead of telling the people about how the national government has been helping the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

Now the President is again accusing media of conducting a campaign against the Aquino administration. This, after Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez slammed Malacañang and the President’s alter ego, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, for politicizing events in the aftermath of Yolanda. 

Romualdez has gone on record about the slow, disorganized and chaotic response of the national government despite his continued pleas for help. At that time,  there was looting in his city, and bodies decomposed on the streets.

Expectedly, the DILG Secretary denied the allegations of Romualdez despite the on-the-ground reporting of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Now, who is lying through his teeth?

Even on the ground reporters of ABS-CBN and GMA validated what Cooper saw.

Mr. President, don’t shoot the messenger in an attempt to deny the shortcomings of your administration.

Mar Roxas did not deny, however, that he told Mayor Romualdez to write a letter admitting that the latter was incapable of performing his job. Roxas added: “you are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino.”

Considering the fact that the Marcos-Romualdez family have a long-standing political rivalry with the Aquinos, my gulay, isn’t that injecting politics into something as serious as the aftermath of a calamity?

Roxas comes out with the cop-out (palusot) that he just wanted to legalize everything. Legalize everything? My gulay, how do you legalize anything when earlier in the day President Aquino wanted to investigate the local government unit of Tacloban for unpreparedness? And who can prepare for a typhoon with 350-kilometer-per hour winds and storm surges of about seven meters high?

The fact was that Mayor Romualdez and his entire council and police force were all victims of the calamity.

Mr. President, please separate news reportage from opinion. We, in media, are not doing the people a disservice by reporting facts.

And if there are columnists who blame the Aquino administration for slow, disorganized and chaotic response in the aftermath of Yolanda, that’s their opinion. You, too, Mr. President, are entitled to your own opinion and we respect that. Some of us columnists may disagree with you and your alter egos, sure. But that is democracy – assent and dissent are its bedrock.

But let’s get some facts straight. Didn’t Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin admit that the government was unprepared for Yolanda?

Yes, Gazmin did deploy armed soldiers in Tacloban, just like what Roxas did in deploying policemen. But not before looting became widespread.

If the President can take an unsolicited advice, he must look himself in the mirror for a change and admit his administration’s shortcomings and failures. If you do this, Mr. President, people will praise you for your sensitivity and humility.

But to say that we in media, are conducting a campaign to discredit your administration is farthest from the truth. The world knows what happened in Tacloban City, even if the President and Mar Roxas do not admit it.

***

There’s no doubt that there was collusion among independent power suppliers which triggered a P3.44 per-kilowatt-hour rate increase by Meralco, the largest power distributor with no less than four million customers in Metro Manila and environs.

Santa Banana, even the Department of Energy was surprised by the announcement that the Energy Regulatory Commission approved the rate hike in three tranches. Collusion among power suppliers must be investigated if only to prevent them from taking advantage of the people.

It seems unlikely that after Malampaya’s temporary shutdown, power plants should come out with unannounced and unplanned outages in several plants. These unplanned outages jacked up electricity prices on the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, thus raising Meralco’s costs.

It’s all for these reasons why Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla must pursue an investigation. The hike, even if it is done in three tranches, would have a domino effect on prices of transport and prime commodities.

This hike in power rates, and during the Christmas season, no less, is criminal to say the least. Secretary Petilla must hold people accountable for this.

***

Efforts of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman to downplay reports from the London-based newspaper The Daily Mail that donations to the Yolanda victims had found their way to some upscale shops in Metro Manila sounded lame.

This, when taken against the direct testimony of an expatriate, who said that the delivery of UK goods to victims of Yolanda did not reach the beneficiaries but were pilfered.

Malacañang must look into this report and conduct a probe if necessary.

Soliman’s cop-out (palusot) was that her department was not in charge of handling packs of meals-ready-to-eat from the US military. The MREs were seen to have ended up in a grocery shop in Makati. I saw the video, even if Soliman did not.

As for the pilferage of UK donations, Dinky should investigate the NGOs tasked to transfer, dispatch and deliver them.

Santa Banana, that even donations from foreign governments and charities are stolen by government people with sticky fingers shows how corrupt some people have become.

* * *

There’s something basically wrong when Malacañang points to media as its adversary and not to any opposition group as it should be.

Normally, under any administration, it’s always the opposition that’s being blamed for any campaign to discredit an administration. My gulay, now it’s media which is blamed by the President for dividing and doing a great disservice to the people.

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