Typhoon Haiyan in hindsight: Romualdez could have been set up for blame had PNoy been a bit shrewder

So it’s been 100 days since the disaster wrought by super-typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda). A one-hundred day anniversary is an arbitrary point following a seminal event where the average talking head observes the tradition of dipping into that fountain of useless wisdom called hindsight to tell a story. Here we go, then.


First, the facts. It is widely-acknowledged that Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III — fairly or unfairly — copped the better part of the blame for the astoundingly inutile way the Philippine government responded to the disaster. Inquirer.net columnist John Nery observes on the basis of the fallout following President BS Aquino’s cringeworthy interview with tele-journalist Christiane Amanpour…

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Mr. Aquino did not do very well [during the interview with Amanpour]; he tried to describe a national government that was, to use the familiar phrase, on top of the situation, but five days after the supertyphoon devastated parts of Central Visayas, especially the unfortunate city of Tacloban, the government was in fact still looking for its bearings. Was he covering up for the chaotic reality on the ground, or was he determined to not play the helpless leader of a helpless country? Or was he just talking through his storm-soaked hat? The feedback on social media that I followed was overwhelmingly negative.

Indeed, President BS Aquino became the face of Philippine ineptitude, perhaps as a result of poor timing. That interview with Amanpour, where he made his now world-renowned gross underestimation of the death toll following the storm, happened just as the full extent of the devastation was being revealed to the world by CNN‘s Anderson Cooper in a brilliant on-the-ground report where he made his observation that he found “no real evidence of organized recovery or relief” in Tacloban City.

As if that weren’t enough, Aquino set up his bumbling sidekick Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas to be the go-to person in Tacloban City. Roxas too, became the object of a media field day when he stammered through an interview with Andrew Stevens, another CNN correspondent. Suffice to say, Roxas emerged out of that gaffe an even bigger chump than his boss after engaging in an argument with the veteran journalist over the treatment of the corpses that littered the flattened city. Worse, Roxas dragged his boss and his entire party down with him when he told beleaguered Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, “bahala na kayo sa buhay niyo” (“You can all go to hell for all I care”) as the humanitarian crisis dragged on and the blame game went into full gear.


On to the point, then.

In hindsight, President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III could’ve spared himself and his party a whole lot of the blame for the Haiyan devastation if he had been a bit less focused on trying to look good and in charge of the Philippines (something he never really achieved over the last three and a half years since his ascent to power to begin with) and, instead, evaluated the situation under a more objective light. Firstly, information on Haiyan’s distinction as the planet’s most powerful storm in history at the time was already well-known days before it made landfall. Second, considering that the Philippines has copped more than its fair share of powerful storms (with the last two far less powerful ones killing Filipinos by the thousands), it wouldn’t have taken an ace meteorologist to imagine the damage that Haiyan will have done.

Regardless of who was in charge, the Philippines was essentially the proverbial clueless turkey on Thanksgiving Day as Haiyan approached.

If BS Aquino did a bit of thinking around those obvious facts, he could at the time have had the foresight to set someone else up to be the scapegoat for the inevitable tragedy ahead. All he needed to do was put a local in charge — say, either Romualdez or Leyte Governor Leopoldo Petilla — even if that meant risking foregoing a bountiful harvest of credit to himself in the unlikely event that all would go well. Then again, a happy ending following a visit from the planet’s mightiest storm in history was unlikely. So an investment in Romualdez or Petilla would have been a politically shrewd maneuver for the Second Aquino Administration.

Under such a scenario, Aquino and his “national government” could’ve deployed the full support of the Philippine military with these local officials as the primary civilian authority over those military commands in matters concerning the Haiyan disaster. Under that approach, the whole operation would have remained consistent to the involvement protocol in such disaster response scenarios between local and national government. That certainly would have yielded a far better outcome from a public relations perspective than the idiotic sight of Roxas directing traffic in Tacloban and debating with CNN reporters on whether bodies seen one day were the same ones seen on another.

[Photo courtesy Daily News America.]

20 Replies to “Typhoon Haiyan in hindsight: Romualdez could have been set up for blame had PNoy been a bit shrewder”

  1. The Aquino admin ver 2.0, he just reacts to situations coming his way, never planning and looking forward, even for sinister reasons.

    Can’t blame him though, he cannot play chess alone.

    1. I can already see the butthurt noytards attacking this blog post yet again. Predictable and pathetic behavior since they can’t even come up with any defense for their inept president.

      The international media has already unmasked Mr. Aquino as an incompetent shmuck yet these yellow bozos still try to defend him. So much blind loyalty to someone who doesn’t deserve being followed.

  2. Since time immemorial, this has been the attitude of our top leader in our country. They rely too much on LGUs to do the work. Thus the fault of PNoy is he trusted too much on the reports from the LGU of Leyte that they were prepared prior to the storm. Thereby, he was confident to press release the said preparation. Although the preparation was already set-up but none of it was enough to evade the unprecedented circumstance brought about by SP Yolanda. Hence, blame game arise to defend oneself. I, for one, blame the government (national and local) and its constituents. Some residents did not listen to the government’s warning even how many times the PAG-ASA and Project NOAH heed the call for them to vacate the place especially those living near coastal area. They underestimated the storm. Some even said that if it’s their time to die, then they cannot do anything about it. The local government forewarning to its constituents wasn’t enough or did not make an additional research about the possible impact of the storm. Some residents did not understand what “storm surge” is. They also cannot leave their house days before the catastrophe for fear of burglars that would possibly intrude and steal their properties.

    Few days on the aftermath of the typhoon. The people of tacloban city and other parts of leyte and samar have been running around in circus, the supply of food, shelter and medicines etc were not organized properly due to lack of cooperation and misunderstanding between local and national government. The relief goods came but not enough to supply all the survivors. The magnitude of damage is horrific. The scope covered several regions, which other places have become hardly accessible due to obstacles in the roads, bridges and seas. We have limited resources, not enough to cater the whole islands and islets of the ravaged central visayas. Thankfully we have had donors from several organizations and private individuals all over the world who help to ease the burden of our countrymen.

    I hope we can all move-on from this tragedy. It’s a lesson learned again for our government and ordinary citizens as their wake-up call for the nth time since we had suffer enough in the past and yet we did not learn a lot. Nonetheless, this problem is not exclusive to us. Other developing countries in the world suffered the same fate in varying degree. Also developed countries like USA during SP Katrina. The Federal Government was slow in responding and Bush administration received flak from CNN Mr. Cooper and its people.

        1. That doesn’t even make any sense. Then again, spouting unsubstantiated twaddle is common for a board certified imbecile.

        2. Look who’s talking? you first sounded like a childish troll in reply to my post. You don’t need to insult somebody if you have something better to say. You don’t even possess the most basic elementary principle which is respect. You are stifling dissent and curtailing other’s opinion just to concede on your whims. That’s totalitarianism and subjugation on people’s rights. Same goes to your peers.

        3. An insult? Perish the thought. That was simply an observation. And the basics of any discussion is to have an idea. Or an actual opinion. As well as the ability to articulate it. Not to regurgitate propaganda as a means of deflecting criticism of the Aquino administration. It’s hypocritical that Jigs whines about stifling dissent when he bombards the comments section with specious rhetoric intent on misleading readers regarding the administration’s embarrassing, shameful behaviours that were already spotlighted by various media organisations. Apparently it’s only ‘fair’ to Jigs if comments favour Penoy and company.

        4. I thought this is an open forum and differing opinion is welcome. If this is my propaganda then respond with coherent argument. You should not use foul language if you have respect for humanity. Your existence is temporary and you do not monopolize all the opinions of individuals regarding on what they perceived around that made-up their minds. Respect begets respect and you don’t even have it. I tried to respond courteously every rebuttal thrown at me because I want to create decent discussions but other people here like you are not into it. Instead they just resorted to name-calling, derogatory language and assorted ad hominem attacks in order to have a feeling good moment. You failed to see that I’m not a biased commenter here. On my first comment of this article, I did not take side of anyone. You should be fair in arguing with somebody, not taking it personally. Attack the issue and not the person. It would create ideas, not rubbish trolls.

        5. The problem, Jigs, is you are just offering an opinion that this website has already, for countless number of times, addressed and even destroyed by so many articles here. You seem to be insulating Pnoy in your long comment above, and it won’t work here and you will just be seen as trolling.

        6. Here we go again with the mewling and the whining about wounded pride. This is faux I-wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve act is really getting tired.

          If the intention at GRP were to publicise only one point of view, Jigs’ comments would have been deleted. Thankfully, the objective of the site is to discuss opposing points of view, unlike the intent of Penoy Aquino’s government which is to stifle freedom and to persecute its perceived enemies in a frenzy of revenge politics. And thus Jigs’ haughty, condescending posts remain.

          Respect? Please! Jigs should have respect for the other readers who participate on this forum and stop pretending to objectivity. He should at least admit to being partisan. Anyone who follows his comments will easily discern his sympathies lie with Penoy and company.

          Derogatory language? Name calling, ad hominem attacks?

          Apparently Jigs did not even understand the response to his first comment. Let’s make it clear — Jigs’ comment was BALONEY. Deceptive and misleading talk with the intention of absolving Penoy Aquino of blame in the poor handling of Haiyan’s aftermath. To have readers believe that the President of the Republic — with all the resources at his disposal — is held hostage by a local mayor is ludicrous. Legal hurdles were never a consideration when international aid and local assistance started pouring in.

          This has all been tackled before in previous GRP articles. And unfortunately for Penoy, the whole world caught a glimpse of the pathetic incompetence that has been his trademark on CNN. The rest of the global community doesn’t have to rely on GRP critics to formulate their opinion of him.

          Is that how Jigs wants responses to his posts structured? Apparently his comprehension cannot handle brevity. It can only respond to instances when there is a lot of bloviating. As when one has to explain things very slowly to a rather slow child.

          ‘Respond courteously?’ Jigs’ response was silly, doltish and absurd. It had no meaning. In a word — imbicilic. And now Jigs cries about not being taken seriously because he was characterised according to his behaviour/posts? As Jigs says — respect begets respect and Jigs doesn’t even have it, only an agenda to spread propaganda for Penoy.

        7. Johnny Saint

          You really don’t get my point. And you don’t even know that sometimes in our heated discussion of this site, I was curtailed or not allowed to post anymore in the same article, I don’t know why, maybe some of my reply went to spam folder or simply it was deleted immediately. As far as I remember, PNoy site has welcomed criticism or maybe you mean the Cyber Libel Law? Well, you don’t have to blame him alone for that.

          Respect means accepting the opinion of others and try to respond based on the content of their message. Not to dismiss it immediately as nonsense. What you gonna do instead is to enlighten/educate them if you think their idea is wrong. And I did not pretend to be hypocrite here. I’ve become impartial on my comments. I tried to weigh things properly. You don’t know the difference. And look who’s talking here? you are I guess hiding/pretending on your own whims of not trying to persecute others’ opinion of your callous/insensitive response. Let me get it straight to your face, I blame PNoy administration, the local government and some of the residents in Leyte and Samar for the tragedy. I hope you get my point on the above comment now. You called my post baloney and me an imbecile isn’t disrespectful to you? Where’s your logic. And I think you missed my point. You are not the only one who is insulting me here, I’m also talking to others.

          If I favor PNoy for example and you don’t like it and you just dismiss it as rubbish coupled with name-calling against the person who posted it then what do you think of yourself then? Why you can’t get my point is quite absurd.

          Enough of this.

  3. Pnoy today said the government has exceeded its promises and delivered excellence in all areas of government resulting in high self-esteem for all filipinos.

    It is hard to take this guy seriously and he should not be surprised at the criticism he recieves when he makes such ludicrous statements.

    Yesterday they launched the updated economic development plan 2014 – 2016.
    (I guess the 2010 – 2014 already failed)
    I imagine it took an intern all of 1 hour to produce the new ‘plan’.

    “If we can sustain 6 -7% annual growth over a long period – say five or ten years,
    even better 20 years – that will allow us to see a major change in the poverty rate,” Balisacan said.
    Under the updated PDP, the government identified the following factors that must be present to achieve its goals:
    Investment must continue to rise for the economy to continue to grow.
    There must be investment in research and development.
    Reduce cost of doing business and remove regulatory bottlenecks.
    There must be more aggressive employment facilitation for better
    jobs skills match.

    Balisacan said the government aims to attract more investors”

    It takes 4 years to state the obvious!!

    A plan: A scheme, program, set of actions, worked out beforehand for the
    accomplishment of stated objective(s), ideally with milestone accomplishments, interdependencies, responsibilities, time-lines, and measurements of success.

    “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched
    in the mouth.”
    Mike Tyson

  4. It is not good to blame others for your mistakes. Public officials should face up their responsibilities, manly or womanly…

    Roxas is looking for running for President in 2016. We are now looking on what we get, if he is the President. Ineptitude, irresponsibility and a liar. He lied even to foreign media.

  5. President Aquino says a better forecasting system is needed. I have been contacted by scientists who have worked with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) saying they have “top-notch instrumentation.” In addition, PAGASA has affiliations with international organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization and the Japanese Meteorological Agency, thus making the Haiyan forecast, its magnitude, and its predicted path more solid.

    Thousands are dead (probably as many as 10,000), because the government turned a blind eye to the information that they had, when they had it, and “failed to respond.” These claims make the genocide chatter something to consider, as it has become clearer and clearer that politics played a role in the handling of Haiyan. Is the super typhoon a catalyst for the revival of the Philippines’ biggest political rivalry – Aquino versus Marcos? After all, it is a general consensus that the Marcoses are alleged to have masterminded the assassination of Benigno Aquino II, the current president’s father.

    Tacloban is a stronghold of the Romualdez clan, a last name that has ties with the Marcos clan, the political rival of the Aquino clan. It’s an easy game of connect the dots. These political dynasties/rivalries and their interests should be questioned. Did Aquino act in accordance with what was right for the welfare of the people of Tacloban before and after the strongest storm made landfall? On December 10, 2013, Rigoberto Tiglao wrote in The Manila Times, “How can Aquino claim that it deployed enough policemen and soldiers in Tacloban when rotting corpses are still by the city’s streets and under its debris to this day?”

    Is it really just bad governance on Aquino’s part to act in the manner he did before the storm? Pre-Haiyan information backed by scientific data (date, magnitude, and path) was available a week ahead. Is it recklessness or plain stupidity to send officials to affected areas and not equip them with satellite phones, so that they could communicate from ground zero to Malacanang? The strongest storm in human history just struck, so a contingency plan was crucial in the event cell phones and landlines were shut down. Is President Aquino stupid or is he is so smart that he has cunningly deceived the world by using Haiyan as a platform for political supremacy? Did his administration by way of inaction to prevent the rising death toll, which is being estimated to be as high as 10,000 people, commit an act akin to genocide?


  6. I wish they did make the right moves to make the Romualdezs look bad. We don’t really need the country to be giving sympathy and support to one more dynasty of thieves.

  7. Personally speeaking, I’ve been in Tacloban 2 days after Haiyan struck. All I can say is ROXAS is a FUCKING DOUCHEBAG AND FREAKING LIAR…

    I Stayed in Tacloban for 5 days.. And the same bodies are left on the road rotting in the sun and sporadic rainshowers.

    AFAIK this BS Aquino Administration is a a fucking circus..

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