Advancement in technology and the advent of social media has made the dissemination of information so much faster nowadays. Anyone who has access to a computer and a WiFI connection can receive instant information from the Net about what’s happening locally and globally. This has proven to be a double-edged sword for some high-profile personalities particularly in the Philippines.
One personality who quite often becomes a victim of online ridicule is Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. His recent mishap when he fell from a motorbike during an ocular inspection of areas affected by typhoon Ruby in Eastern Samar drew harsh criticism instead of sympathy.
Unfortunately, Roxas’s negative public image has not really recovered well after he showed what some consider to be his arrogant attitude in the middle of a disaster during the 2013 super typhoon Yolanda. We recall that Roxas was initially caught on video arguing with CNN’s foreign corresponded Andrew Stevens about the number of corpses still left uncollected on the road. After that he was caught berating Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and reminding him that the President is an Aquino and about the rift between the families.
Roxas’s supporters condemn those who criticize him saying that he should be given a break since he was only doing his job when he decided to ride a motorbike to go to Dolores, one of the areas affected by typhoon Ruby. First of all, his critics were actually concerned for his safety and pointed out that he should have been wearing a helmet especially since the conditions where dangerous.
His passenger Malacanang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda wasn’t wearing a helmet either. Both were at risk of receiving fatal head injuries. There was obviously a reason why the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 mandates motorcycle riders to wear the said protective gear but it did not occur to them to observe it. Some people are now baffled as to why both Roxas and Lacierda can get away with the violation and did not get penalized for it. It seems the law is not applied equally to everyone in the Philippines.
Second, instead of apologizing, Roxas arrogantly dismissed his critics and insinuated that he couldn’t be bothered wearing a helmet at that time. His actions and overall attitude are certainly sending a wrong message to the Filipino people. He doesn’t advocate “safety first” in all his endeavors. He came across as someone who he is quick to jump into action without thinking. That’s not a good sign, indeed. It’s a clear indication that he can be irrational in the worst of times.
Third, a lot of people are now asking why a cabinet member like Roxas had to be the one to go to the affected areas himself. As the head of the department, his men should have been the one doing the assessment of the damaged areas and give him a briefing of the status immediately after.
What Roxas could have done after realizing that access roads to the areas affected by the typhoon were blocked by debris is to organize its removal from the roads as soon as possible. One can only imagine how helpless and useless he would have been after reaching his destination and seeing the devastation considering he didn’t have the proper equipment to fix anything anyway since he only brought a motorbike with him. All he could do was take notes, which as mentioned above could have been done by any of his men or women.
What did Roxas hope to accomplish in going to areas inaccessible by car anyway? He and his supporters were obviously expecting kudos for being “hands-on”. But the people only saw someone who was recklessly taking advantage of the opportunity to grandstand in front of the media. Likewise, one could also argue that since he insists that he was just doing his job, there was nothing commendable about his actions especially since it hasn’t resulted in anything significant. It’s not like he prevented the typhoon from wreaking havoc.
Those who keep saying “stop criticizing Roxas” are missing the point. The point is: As someone who is aspiring to become the leader of the Philippines, he should get used to criticism. The recent controversy he got himself in should serve as a test of the strength of his character. As the saying goes, if he can’t stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen this early.
The Filipino people do not deserve another onion-skinned crybaby as their next administrator. They already have that in the incumbent president. They need someone who knows how to delegate even from a distance; someone who can inspire his people to do the groundwork for him and make it look like he did it himself. After all, those who will help push him up should know that they will be pulled up along the way. But that’s only if Roxas is willing to trust his staff to do the right thing. Apparently, it seems he doesn’t trust them enough so he feels he has to do the job himself.
One can be forgiven for thinking that Roxas is such a micro-manager and focuses too much on the irrelevant details that shouldn’t concern him. This is definitely not a good trait for someone who is aiming for the Presidency. He could fail to see the bigger picture and waste time arguing about the little things. This was evident in the way he kept arguing with the members of the local government units in Tacloban in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda.
Finally, the most obvious reason why Roxas cannot get a break from his critics is because he tries too hard to please the voters. His public relation stunts quite often backfire. That’s because he steals the focus away from the victims during a disaster by ending up being the topic of the news. In other words, since he calls attention to himself, he attracts both good and bad criticism. Emphasis is on the bad.
And he’s just half of the story. His news anchor wife Korina Sanchez grabs attention too with her inappropriate comments. Her latest gaffe wishing the typhoon would just go straight to Japan should teach her producers from ABSCBN a lesson – to keep the microphone far away from her.
Sadly, both husband and wife shouldn’t be in influential positions in Philippine society. The only upside to them staying on: the memes are always hilarious.
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