The first 72 hours in every disaster relief and rescue operation is the most crucial. It’s when a responsible and speedy reaction is much needed. It was during this most crucial time, the 1st 72 hours, that I was hoping our government leaders have acted more swiftly and responded more responsibly as well.
No, I was not expecting for a Superman. All I wanted to see then in our leader was:
1. A compassionate father of this nation reassuring its people and rallying for unity and cooperation—one that is representing RP and not just LP
2. A commander-in-chief with some sense of urgency—one who will promptly deploy our armed forces to promptly assist in the clearing, rescue, and relief operation
3. A manager who knows his priorities and promptly organizing a network of inter-agency committees and task forces
4. A listener who is not too proud to enlist the help of other experts outside LP and outside his current cabinet members whenever necessary
5. A man exercising humility and wisdom and willing to evaluate objectively and accept some good suggestions and constructive criticisms
What I saw instead:
1. A 50 y/o boy who told everyone that we are ready and we have all the necessary ‘toys’: 3-C130, 32-helicopters, and 20-ships (please, don’t ask me now how many of these were actually made available)
2. A 50 y/o boy and his dear playmate blaming Tacloban officials for the lack of response when 95% of them were badly affected.
3. A 50 y/o boy distributing bottles of mineral water for photo ops in his ever so bright yellow shirts
4. A 50 y/o boy and his playmate responding to critics and trying to convince the world that “the government’s response has been reassuring to the people”
5. A 50 y/o boy firing a chief superintendent and busy downplaying the death toll for whatever reason (and did I hear it right? anybody who is unidentified is not counted as dead!)
6. A 50 y/o boy telling the media to ‘accurately’ report the event (or better make him look good despite the documented evidence to the contrary, or else!)
Some mathematicians are talking about the S curve and the reality of ‘work’ where the initial and final phases often always move at turtle pace. But see, the situation is not just an ordinary task or usual construction project—where the ‘contractors’ normally take their own sweet time and sometimes even intentionally delay the job in order to earn more. This was a relief and rescue operation where SPEED is of utmost essence, for it can mean life and death of hundreds of thousands survivors. The pace of a construction project, more than just the owner’s financial resources, largely depends on the intention, leadership, and resolved of the contractor. (i.e. when we had our house renovated, most contractors said it will take 120-150 work days to finish. I did not accept and did not hire them instead. To cut the long story short, we ended up finishing the renovation in less than 45 days). It is pretty much so in a relief operation. There are tons and tons of relief goods still in the warehouses of DSWD and warehouses of those large TV networks and mostly have yet to be distributed–as that’s how they work. But then, there are also the more efficient and determined NGOs and private groups (ours included) who managed to have responded quickly and distributed the relief goods as early as Nov 10-14. Again, I say, the pace can only be as slow as we accept them to be. And in this case, we cannot afford to wait ‘til kingdom come.
For goodness sake, we do not need to see our leader doing the actual distribution of bottled water for photo ops—or at least, not on the 1st most crucial 72 hours. We do not need to hear his whining, complaining, and non-stop blaming of the LGU—again, at least not on the most crucial time, in the same way many of us, private citizens, declared a self-imposed ceasefire for 5 days just to focus on the relief operation.
What I wanted to see is a leader on top of the strategic planning & large scale operation for relief, rescue, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts. What most of us wanted to see is a leader that is tough yet exercises prudence, humility, and compassion. What I wanted to see is leader whose heart and mind is bigger than his ego and much bigger than his mouth.
What I saw was a boy sporting his bright yellow outfit in the midst of death and misery… What I saw was a boy leading the LP—hostile, if not vindictive, to his political opponents… What I saw was a boy who cannot stop from blaming and criticizing others to cover his shortfall, yet unwilling to accept criticisms… What I saw was a boy with seemingly very little emotion and compassion—stoic to the sufferings of many…
And while I grieve for the thousands of lives lost brought forth by this super typhoon, I cannot help but to also grieve for the lack of leadership our nation has at this time…
I can only pray that the BOY I saw over the last 10 days will soon grow up and be the kind of MAN I hope to see, and yes, respect…
(Note: I know some people will bash me for this and call me names and treat me like an enemy of the state. But I said this once and I’ll say it again, my loyalty to my President ends where the welfare of my fellowmen begins… I only shared with you what I wanted to see and what I saw… Again, my eyes may not be as clear nor as blinded as the others… So please, instead of telling me to shut up or bashing me online, just share instead what you wanted to see in your leader against what you actually saw… And together, let us pray fervently for him and for our beloved nation…)