In the midst of the aftermath of the recent eruption of Taal Volcano, the Opposition still haven’t gotten over desperately trying to prove that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte doesn’t care about the people. They have a habit of looking for him as soon as an adverse event happens and then ridicule him as soon as he shows up. What’s up with that??
They tried to copy the success of the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo which originally went viral in early 2015 when the public were outraged over the absence of then President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III during the arrival of the bodies of the slain members of Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police. Recall that this was a tragedy — the Mamasapano Massacre — that was due to Aquino’s negligence and recklessness in his overseeing the covert operation to capture a terrorist leader in Mindanao.
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The hashtag, in the incapable hands of the Opposition today, failed to be effective against Duterte this time, however. This is because the volcanic eruption wasn’t Duterte’s fault and it was evident that the Opposition had a dishonest agenda in calling out for his presence on the first day of the eruption even when the situation hadn’t at the time been properly assessed nor the extent of damage estimated as yet.
Even more amazing, they were quick to slap the “tragedy” label even before verifiable information on casualties had come in. This is so they could emotionally blackmail Duterte’s supporters and paint the government under a negative light. Supporters of the Opposition who have a strong following on social media are always quick to jump the gun and paint the current government as “uncaring” and slow to act.
For that matter, why would a volcanic eruption, which is a natural occurrence, make the government look incompetent? Critics were just too quick to criticise. They were already looking for a reason to hit Duterte on the very first day the volcano erupted.
The fact is, things turn “tragic” only when people get caught up in it. In this instance, the people were evacuated in a timely manner. A lot of the animals were evacuated too. Yes, there was damage and impacted lives. Yes, there are major inconveniences. However, all these are risks inherent to people who opt to live near a live volcano — risks that have now materialised and impacted their lives.
These obstructionists in today’s Opposition forget that local government units are responsible for responding first in the event of a calamity or disaster before the national government takes over. Indeed, former yellow leader Mar Roxas himself knew that. That’s what he was trying to insist as then Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary in that infamous video showing him bullying Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez during a meeting at the height of the disaster caused by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. Roxas back then was forcing Romualdez to admit he was incapable of handling the situation and to explicitly request in writing that the national government take over. Remember, Roxas famously said, “You’re a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino”.
When we criticised BS Aquino in 2013 in the aftermath of the Haiyan supertyphoon disaster, it was after the fact. It was after their incompetence, their lack of preparation against natural calamities, and their slow response to an emergency had become evident. Proof of this is in that infamous video of Roxas. The callousness of Roxas was on exhibit and in the spotlight. Thousands of bodies were already littered around town but he was still being pedantic. He didn’t care. No wonder he lost the Presidential election in 2016 and lost the senatorial election in 2019. The voters did not forget his arrogance in the midst of an enormous crisis.
The Opposition are probably secretly disappointed that things turned out to be under control and their attempts at putting Duterte down had failed once again.
In life, things are not always what they seem.