It is quite amazing that the Opposition have not realised yet that all “vice president” Leni Robredo offers is the here-and-now and nothing much beyond that. Indeed, at the time of this writing, Robredo is top of mind amongst her fandom having just scored PR points that landed her some media — and social media — mileage owing to her much-photographed “contribution” to the response and relief effort as two major typhoons within weeks of one another ravaged the Philippines.
In propagating the same old traditional messaging that aims more towards self-promotion and less to other more honourable intents, Robredo sustains a sticky habit that keeps the political chatter stuck on personalities rather than on ideas. As can be observed by the outcome of The Leni Robredo Show written and produced by the eminent “thought leaders” of the Yellowtards (the rabid bloc loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco clan that presumes to “lead” the Opposition) in response to the impact of recent typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, practically the entire conversation revolved around who did what or, worse, who did more than the other. The more important part of the conversation — how much in the overall scheme of things was a achieved — took a back seat to all the pettiness.
Here, the “overall scheme of things” refers to the broader issue of disaster management — Preparation, Response, and Relief. The latter two, Response and Relief, are often the ones that make the news and, woefully, in the wrong way. The recent episodes starring the “vice president” in the title role illustrate this. Response and Relief are often the most “newsworthy” aspects of disaster management because they have a set of characters not present in the Preparation story — victims. When victims are part of the cast of characters, Filipinos’ favourite protagonist in any story — the Hero — majestically swoops in to save not just the day and but, more importantly, media ratings.
While there is a story to be told about Preparation, it is all just too boring for the average attention-deficited televiewer. Tall and dashing fire fighters and the damsels in negligees they carry out of towering infernos are always better at hooking in an audience compared to stories about the geeky fire wardens who walk around the office with clipboards inspecting fire extingquishers and emergency exits. In the case of the dramas spun by PR managers and “news” producers around annual typhoons disasters in the Philippines, the rotten unfairness of it all is the same. When disaster strikes, the “heroes” get disproportionate kudos for the handful of lives saved. But the people who’s job it is to quietly prepare for or, more importantly, prevent disaster routinely go unsung. Yet it is the work of these unsung heroes that save millions of lives. Unfair indeed.
Leni Robredo is one of those dishonest people who habitually steps onto the “hero” pedestal to exploit disaster and claim credit at the expense of the quiet achievers whose collective work prevented loss of or impact to life that could have dwarfed the handful “saved” by such crooked “heroes”.
Rather than regard the bigger system we are called to design to implement truly systemic and sustainable solutions to mitigate routine risks posed to the Philippines by the typhoons that had long been facts of Filipino life, people like Leni Robredo dumb down essential conversations that need to be had. It’s time Filipinos stop putting up with the intellectual bankruptcy that politicians like Robredo foment. It’s time Filipinos embrace real change and reform their dysfunctional political culture.
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