As if Tacloban officials didn’t have enough on their hands with assessing damage, estimating the number of casualties, and generally keeping the deteriorating peace and order situation under control, all brought about by Tropical Storm Yolanda (Haiyan), along came another calamity that they had to deal with: the Bullshit Storm generated from president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s unprofessional conduct and behavior unbecoming of a statesman.
First up, let’s check out this sound bite which he made during the briefing of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRMMC):
“Yung Tacloban, hesitant lang ako. Para bang hindi ganun ka prepared…compared to other areas…Siguro I will reserve comments muna at this point in time hangang mas makumpleto natin yung datos,” (With Tacloban, I was hesitant. It’s like they weren’t that prepared…compared to other areas. Perhaps I will reserve comments for now at this point in time until we get more data.)
What’s wrong with the above statement?
BS Aquino said it himself: the data was incomplete. Yet he chose to make an off-the-hip summary judgment that’s become all but a trademark of his when he is displeased with something. Besides, what is his basis in saying that Tacloban didn’t seem prepared? Is it just because they were the hardest hit? Is it because BS Aquino had never thought such devastation was possible? Or is it because he is trying to single out Tacloban officials who happen to be part of a province associated with the Romualdezes? Don’t know who the Romualdezes are? Think of Imelda.
The ANC article didn’t make it clear, and neither did he.
Let’s look at it from the other side of the coin. BS Aquino may have had a point in saying that Tacloban seemed unprepared. Perhaps local officials had been lax in preparing for the onslaught of the typhoon. Whatever point he had, however, was easily eclipsed by the inappropriateness of the timing of his statements. Mr. President, there is plenty of time to play blame-game and accountability AFTER the rescue operations have ended. To do so in the middle of it only shows that you can’t control your mouth, and keep your pointless criticism to yourself for the greater good. You were unprofessional, Mr. President; your bosses expect so much more from you than that.
BS Aquino wasn’t through, though. Reports came in around this afternoon that he walked out of a disaster council meeting due to frustration.
Sevidal said Aquino had a brush with a businessman there who first asked that the government already declare martial law or a state of emergency. Aquino supposedly explained that the government is already looking at options to help in the recovery of Leyte.
A friend of the businessman also supposedly asked Aquino what the government is doing since there are already reports of killing there. The person supposedly said he was held at gunpoint by some looters.
“But you did not die, right?” Aquino answered back.
The Presidential Security Group were seen ready to remove the individuals from the room, Sevidal reported.
Later, Aquino again showed dismay when NDRRMC executive director Eduardo del Rosario reported that Tacloban City is 95% devastated.
Aquino asked about a jail in Tacloban that remained standing amid damaged roofs. Del Rosario allegedly said it was considered a “minor devastation.”
The answer supposedly did not bode well with the President. He then stood up and proceeded to another room.
Let’s state the obvious here. And I paraphrase such from fellow GRP writer Ben Kritz:
Even if everyone else was blowing things out of proportion and getting out of hand, it’s his job to be the leader, and to lead the discussion on what needs to get done. Acting like an 8-year old child is not being a leader. If he “was just stepping out to verify” some info, he could’ve said “That’s something I haven’t heard, excuse me for a few minutes to have a little talk with my people. I’ll be right back.”
He got pissy and walked out – what’s there to analyze? You just don’t do that, if you’re the one everyone’s looking to for direction. No management or people skills whatsoever.
I couldn’t have said it better. There is no more room for benefit of the doubt when it comes to BS Aquino; there is only doubt now. His professional shortcomings and glaring incompetence have been publicly obvious for the whole three (3) years of his term, and it looks like his learning curve has not improved a bit. To give him credit, perhaps he is starting to take to heart that maybe he needs to be more visible at crisis sites. However, if all that he’s going to do is throw hissy-fits or make snide remarks whenever he hears things that he doesn’t want to, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what he needs to do.
Thus we come again to the persistent question I had framed in one of my previous articles:
What value does BS Aquino’s presence bring to the crisis site?
If he can’t control his mouth and tantrums and act professionally like a real leader should, then the answer should already be obvious, at least to those critical of his administration.
[Photo of BS Aquino courtesy: The Telegraph]
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