True to the unimaginative character of the Opposition campaign led by Yellowtard presidential candidate Leni Robredo, Typhoon Odette’s visit this weekend presented what seemed to be a grand opportunity for Robredo and her pinky team to, well, grandstand before the cameras. An added bonus was boxing champ and rival presidential candidate calling for various partisan camps to pool resources to “help out” in the relief effort. Perhaps not surprisingly, only Robredo responded to the call. Not surprising, is the meeting of the two minds to exploit this opportunity to perform for the cameras. Both, after all, run the two most intellectually-bankrupt campaigns in these national elections.
What do two politicians with an obvious agenda really have to offer to the most recent victims of what is, in essence, just another garden-variety typhoon very much familiar to Filipinos of any generation? Between the two, only Robredo is an actual executive government official (or so we are told by those who believe that she actually won the vice presidency in 2016). Pacquiao is a senator and, as such, not one whose official role is to direct public services. Robredo like Pacquiao, however, does not have command over any state resources that are in the best position to deliver disaster response and relief services at scale. Only the president who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the executive ultimately in charge of the police and Coast Guard exercises any influence on how resources are allocated to the effort.
The best Robredo could do is to employ a combination of (1) the resources she is authorised to deploy from her own Office of the Vice President, (2) the resources funded by her campaign contributions, (3) her own personal resources, and (4) contributions collected through the parallel fundraising initiatives she and her supporters organised. Step back and take stock of all this and we will see that it is a mishmash of state and politically-motivated resources that supports this “relief effort”. On top of all this sits Leni Robredo’s political brand which, in turn, gives dishonest credence to the notion that she is the one person to thank for this service of purportedly national proportions and that all the rest don’t measure up.
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How else could one possibly believe that all of what Robredo exhibits is part of a genuine initiative to serve the public if Robredo’s cheerleaders routinely inject traditional mudslinging into their cheers? Pacquiao for his part was clear as to what the spirit of the effort should have been. His original call to his fellow presidential bets was to “come together and set aside politics to help people”. Clearly, Robredo and her titas don’t seem to be getting into the spirit of things.
What most of those who are quick to lap up the insidious messianic messages underlying Robredo’s and, to a lesser extent, Pacquiao’s posturing over the course of Odette’s visit fail to appreciate is that disaster response and relief operations are only the tip of the iceberg that is the overall state apparatus to build the right capabilities and maintain a state of readiness to mitigate the country’s risk exposure to natural calamities. Robredo is the proverbial heroic fireman who gets featured in all the movies and children’s books. Uncelebrated are the people who do the more mundane jobs like keeping the fire extinguishers fresh, implementing safety systems, and keeping people informed and drilled on emergency fire procedures.
As President Rodrigo Duterte points out, you can’t be president if your idea of leading is to be there just to play that heroic fireman before the cameras. That’s not being a leader. That’s just being an asshole.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.