Sec. Mar Roxas character exposed in interview with CNN’s Andrew Stevens at Yolanda disaster site

They say people’s true character reveals itself under pressure. Super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) has certainly put Philippine politicians under pressure. This is something they are not really used to. They are more used to grandstanding under their own terms during scheduled press conferences with members of the local media and during mock hearings, which appear staged to give them the opportunity to vilify their political enemies.

One can say that Philippine government officials are more comfortable with the laissez faire style of administering their constituents. This is evident in their inadequate preparation before the arrival and their slow response to the disaster in the aftermath of typhoons that pass through the country every year.

Because of the intensity of Typhoon Yolanda, the attention of the international community has also put Philippine government officials under the global spotlight. Now the whole world is witness to the true characters of Filipino politicians. Unfortunately, what we are all seeing is not good. Some of them need to work on their ego and get a lesson in humility.

Sec. Mar Roxas in more bountiful times
Sec. Mar Roxas in more bountiful times
One government official who does not seem to handle stress very well is Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Mar Roxas. His interview with Andrew Stevens, another CNN correspondent showed that he can be very defensive and abrasive towards other people.

At one point during the interview, Roxas was arguing over the treatment of dead bodies left rotting on the roads. Stevens pointed out that every day, he sees the same decomposing bodies when he passes by the same road on the way to the city. But Roxas vehemently denied they were the same bodies, stopping short of calling Stevens a liar. The DILG Secretary showed his arrogance in that instance. Suffice to say, it is evident that it would be another colossal mistake if he becomes the next President. Korina Sanchez as the next First Lady doesn’t sit well with a lot of people either, specially since she is beginning to show signs of irrational behavior. Another CNN journalist can attest to this.

The way Roxas kept interrupting Stevens during the interview gave viewers the impression that he is not a people person. His attitude was like “I already know what you are getting at but let me correct you now…”. Likewise, his use of banal metaphors to describe their relief efforts can be interpreted as an attempt to distract from the real issue. At one point he said that the government only set aside pails of water not realizing they needed a swimming pool of water. As if that actually excuses the government’s lack of foresight.

Stevens seems to share other international media correspondents’ observations and pointed out to Roxas the apparent lack of order in distributing relief goods. While he acknowledged what Roxas was trying to say — that the government could not handle the initial response — Stevens couldn’t help but remind Roxas that it has already been a week and yet the victims of the typhoon still beg for water from him and his crew.

Character exposed: CNN's Andrew Stevens gets to the bottom of the situation in Tacloban
Character exposed: CNN’s Andrew Stevens gets to the bottom of the situation in Tacloban
Stevens appeared frustrated over not getting an accurate assessment of the relief and rescue efforts from Roxas considering they were both in the disaster zone. It was as if they were both seeing the same thing – chaos, survivors begging for food and water and dead bodies lying around – except that the DILG secretary still insisted that the situation was under control.

Roxas explained that nothing can be fast enough in a situation like the one he is coordinating now. The bottled water supply for example, is brought to the social welfare warehouse from where it then goes to the community. It’s probably hard for a veteran journalist like Stevens, someone who has been to many disaster areas, to comprehend why relief goods cannot be given straight to the people. He must be saying to himself that those relief goods do not belong in a warehouse, they need to be given to the people ASAP. He was slowly realizing though that in the Philippines, even the distribution of relief goods, which should be classified as “urgent” has to pass through a maze of bureaucracy.

Some say that the delay in distributing relief goods could have something to do with some government officials’ insistence to distribute the relief goods themselves in order to be seen as doing something and get brownie points from the voters. In the aftermath of typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro in 2011, a typhoon that claimed over a thousand lives, there was a rumor going around that presidential sister Kris Aquino caused the delay of the distribution of relief goods:


Some even say that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) does have this tradition of holding on to relief goods for far too long in the past, which eventually results in relief goods not being given at all to the intended recipients.

Despite the glacial speed with which the Philippine government is moving, Roxas said that everything that the government has is already being deployed. Using another metaphor he said that “if this was a gun, all bullets are being deployed” and “if this was a fire hose, all hoses are being deployed”. What he was probably trying to say was, even though Stevens could not feel the presence of the Philippine government, in actual fact, all the resources of the country is already operating in the typhoon ravaged areas. In other words, as far as the Philippine relief operation goes, that’s as good as it gets.

Stevens or any of the members of the international community who were present in the typhoon affected areas must have thought the government is still holding out or hiding a special operations unit that could put order in the chaotic scene. It seems they held on to President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s promise the day before the typhoon that the government is ready with relief operations and that Manila is standing by, ready to support EVERYONE. This could explain why just like the rest of us, they keep wondering why the response is slow, when in fact; there was hardly any response team to begin with. Roxas confirmed this when he said that they were expecting the local government unit to respond in the first instance.

What Roxas was saying can only mean one thing. If the Philippine government does not increase its calamity fund or upgrade it’s relief and rescue efforts, which should include the acquisition of equipment for rescue operations, setting up of evacuation centers that can withstand extreme weather conditions and the modernization of the military, then the Filipino people will be seeing the same response the government is providing now – from slow to next to nothing in some parts of the affected areas – when the next disaster strikes.

Towards the end of Steven’s interview, Roxas made an appeal to the international community and gave a list of supplies he would prefer that donors send to the Philippines like tents and generators. This prompted the interviewer to ask “are you saying that the international community has not responded as generously as they need to?” to which Roxas quickly replied by saying that he is just trying to match the help that’s coming in with what he’s seeing in the ground as the need. It was akin to saying “thanks for the tea towels but what I really wanted was the new Ipad mini”.

Roxas’s general disposition towards the CNN correspondent and some Filipinos’ aversion to foreigner’s critical analysis makes one conclude that when it comes to foreign donations in times of crises, Filipinos are welcoming; but when it comes to foreign criticism of the country’s shortfalls, some Filipinos quickly give the middle finger.

Stevens did not mince words when he told Roxas his personal observation of the entire rescue operation. He said he got the impression that there is no effective chain of command and no structure in place. He added that the operation is uncoordinated; it doesn’t seem to be working nearly efficient enough. Roxas attempted to disagree with his view and gave a long drawn-out response but eventually admitted that it is very chaotic and supplies like body bags can easily gets lost, which essentially says there is no system or structure in place to prevent things from going haywire.

Yes, things are chaotic in typhoon-ravaged areas at the moment but when you think about it, even under normal circumstances, there is hardly any system or structure in place to keep things in order over the entire country. There is a general lack of order in the Philippines and this only gets magnified when disaster strikes. And this is the reason the country cannot progress.


Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

Leave a Reply

573 Comments on "Sec. Mar Roxas character exposed in interview with CNN’s Andrew Stevens at Yolanda disaster site"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Someone should have made Mary Alice aware — not that it would have helped — that he shouldn’t try B.S.’ing Andrew Stevens, whose first report was a frightening video of he and several other journalists riding out the storm and rescuing people from the flood in their hotel.


Great article! You hit another one right outta the park! To You and EVERYBODY at GRP… Keep up the good work!

Primer Pagunuran

No matter how well he tries, the reporter was able to extract things for Mar and showed his ineptitude.

We never had an efficient government until we will have one.

And them, they just project the best image possible each time in front of camera – too self-maximizing.


Why can’t local journalists be like Stevens or others and ask straight questions to these politicians? We need journalists in the Philippines who has the guts to confront, ask the difficult questions and grill the politicians when they interview them. Instead they treat them as celebrities and royalties.


In a perverse way, although I abhor inefficiency and limelight hugging – it is good that these politicos are being exposed to everyone for being the failures that they are.


spot on when you say,”There is a general lack of order in the Philippines and this only gets magnified when disaster strikes. And this is the reason the country cannot progress.”


Looks like Mar and best buddy Noy are both doing the same thing during interviews: bluff their way through it. They just don’t know how to say things simply, or just say flat out the truth. And they don’t want to admit mistakes or their incapability to handle something. They want to make it look like they’re in control even if it’s obvious they’re not. That’s yet another reason why the country can’t progress.


Noynoy and Mar are two inept gays with the latter having a lesbian news anchor as a “wife “.

Johnny Saint

“Roxas’s general disposition towards the CNN correspondent and some Filipinos’ aversion to foreigner’s critical analysis makes one conclude that the when it comes to foreign donations in times of crises, Filipinos are welcoming; but when it comes to foreign criticism of the country’s shortfalls, some Filipinos quickly give the finger.”

Not really surprising considering the uproar over Gogs’ “Gilas” piece or Chino’s essay on “Pinoy Pride.” Or the inordinate conceit over beauty contests and American Idol.


What do you expect from him? I still cant forget the issue of CCTV cameras in NAIA where Tulfo and Claudine had a fight. Mar was interviewed about why there were no CCTV around. He said, because there are no serious threat of terrorism. Seriously? So he needed a terrorism threat before putting up a CCTV that must be installed in every corner of an airport?


They can’t even help all the people in the evacuation center. What more those people who are not? If this is as good as they can get then what the hell kind of leaders do we have?


“Roxas confirmed this when he said that they were expecting the local government unit to respond in the first instance.”

Local gov’t was crippled as it was also ravaged by the storm, being, well, local.

Is the yellow administration not too keen on providing rapid assistance to regions who aren’t necessarily their political allies? — Kay Romualdez yung Tacloban di ba? Baka gusto pang mapunta lahat sa local gov’t yun sisi, another finger pointing response typical of the yellow group.


The interview was so very painful to watch.


What Mar Roxas meant to say is that, “The cash donated by the international community are already allocated to every politician’s pocket. So he demands for more! Shame on you Mar Roxas! Ungrateful. Imbecile. He thinks he look cool with that sack of onions. Mother of God! Nagmumukha syang inutil na premature ejaculator!”


commissioner r biazon good job sir..
DSWD personnel good job in distributing the relief good kahit walang tulog……….


Bravo to Andrew Stevens, Anderson Cooper and the rest of the International media for exposing the corrupt and ineffective Philippine government. I am a Filipino and I am proud to be one because most of the Filipinos are resilient. But I can not say the same thing to our government officials. The are the ills of our country. I would appeal to all the government & individual donors not to course through their donations to our government because it will only go the pockets of the corrupt politician and government officials.

Hyden Toro
Mar Roxas may be applying, for the job of “Poster Boy” for the Onion industry. Amidst the rotting bodies around him. He is smiling, posing with a sack of onions on his shoulder. The last time, he was directing traffic. Now, a bag of onion on his shoulder. What is next? Drop his pants, and show his ass? Mar Roxas needs his head to be examined, by a competent Psychiatrist. For good mental evaluation. Mental illness from his Boss, Mr. Aquino, can be easily transmitted . Kris Aquino will be always be acting like a Diva. This duddete needs her… Read more »

I believe our gov’t is doing our very best to help… Enough of criticism… Letts continue to help and support the ppol and our govt.

@lyn, there is no “legal law” issues requiring journalists here to factually report news…the problem that news journalists here do is they are very open about their political leanings, most are very liberal mouthpieces for the Democratic Party and the way things are “spun”. Every part of the political process or news has a certain spin to it, depending on whatever point they are trying to get across. I had to laugh at your assertion about legal law issues regarding reporting. there is no such requirement here in the USA. Reporters report, but its the editors that decide what gets… Read more »
concern citizen
anung klaseng mga tao kayo? Ready ng ibigay ung mga relief goods para sa mga tao hindi ninyo pa maibibigay dahil hinihintay nyo c KRIS AQUINO para sya mag abot ng relief good sa mga tao? Buhay ang nakataya dito hindi ang pagpapasikat ni kris aquino sa mga tao, hindi muna malilinis ang pagkatao ng mga aquino kahit anung pagpapasikat mo. Lahat ng politician na nanjan at nagpapapicture habang inaabot ang relief goods hindi kayo mananalo sa susunod na election. Anjan na nga ung tulong ibabahagi na lang sa mga tao hihintayin nyo pa mga artista o politiko mag abot… Read more »