It is good to know that President Benigno Aquino has finally sobered up and is now admitting that it was, after all, the ravages of super typhoon Yolanda/ Haiyan that caused the ineffectual and practically nil response of local government units, specifically in Tacloban City, in Leyte, in the aftermath of the storm’s unprecedented destructive power.
“The systems failed,” Aquino acknowledged as he toured again the devastated areas.
“We had a breakdown in power, a breakdown in communications… a breakdown in practically everything,” Aquino told reporters.
“So we have to admit, there was a breakdown in terms of government and there was a cascading effect,” said Aquino.
What a turn-around of attitude and manner of speaking it has been for him after realizing, perhaps, that if the national government took a much longer time planning, organizing and coordinating rescue, clearing and relief operation because of the immensity of the damage to lives and properties wrought by Yolanda, how much more dysfunctional and paralyzed the local government must have been since the local officials themselves have been victims of the super typhoon?
While it is true that local authorities should be the first responders to any disasters befalling their provinces, cities and, municipalities, this equation changes, however, when such calamity renders them inutile not only because, individually, they are victims, but more so because the magnitude of the disaster is such that the resources needed for assistance have all been made unavailable, inaccessible and non-existent.
Had the government ordered immediately the Air Force to fly over the destructive path of the super typhoon, it could made a good and real time assessment of what has happened and what was needed to be done in order that help could reach the hapless survivors as soon as possible.
With the vast resources of government, it baffles me why the response was slow, as has been the observation by media and from the afflicted people themselves, which resulted to the much talked about lamentable chaotic situation in Tacloban City.
If Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had the foreboding of having his rescue workers bring chainsaws, axe, machetes for clearing the roads from falling trees so that his truckloads of water, food, relief goods and other essentials will not be delayed, why has the national government failed to do the same thing when it could have had a more concrete evaluation of the situation had there been an aerial inspection conducted?
This is where President Aquino failed to show leadership and resoluteness when it was needed most.
This lack of resolve made Aquino the object of contempt, not only by people so anxious to know about the fate of their afflicted relatives, but by almost concerned Filipinos.
It further got aggravated when he dismissed Gen. Elmer Soria, Chief Regional Director of the Eastern Visayas Police, for telling reporters that the super typhoon could have killed around 10,000 people.
So what, for crying out loud!
Surely, it does not either do Aquino good that he will be investigating Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez for the city’s high death toll.
It is coming out now that, if all is said and done, the real death toll may come closer to Soria’s estimate than to Aquino’s estimate of 2,500.
These aspects will certainly define the political influence of Aquino within the Liberal Party going to the presidential election in 2016.
This could very well be Aquino’s Waterloo and that of his party – with all their yellow-colored plastic bags of relief goods.
Now, you ask me if Vice President Jejomar Binay any better?
Who could forget Binay’s own donation of relief goods in white plastic bags bearing his name and the vice presidential seal? Were those donations really coming from his own pocket?
Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, anyone?