Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lack of sensitivity and sense of urgency on P-Noy’s part, rather than malice, as death comes to hundreds of CDO and Iligan residents like a thief in the night

from http://www.zimbio.com/

The remarks by actress Valerie Conception posted on Twitter about how President Aquino enjoyed the jokes she cracked and her performance at the “PSG Night” in the Malacanang premises must have been made with complete innocence on her part.  Her post read: “Done w/ work. Tnx for having me…:) It was nice to see Pres. P-Noy laughing at my jokes and enjoying my performance…u#Malacanang#PSG Night.” But apparently Valerie’s innocent remarks drew all kinds of sarcastic reactions from P-Noy’s critics who blasted how he partied while Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City were deep in mourning for scores of dead and missing citizens, that she quickly withdrew them from the internet.

Sometimes a single mistake like that could cost a leader tremendous political capital.  Personally I don’t think there was any malice on P-Noy’s part about dropping in on his security men’s Christmas party, but perhaps it was unthinking of him and his advisers should have counseled him on what to do.  A case of lack of sensitivity and sense of urgency, which translates into poor judgment, rather than outright malice. What P-Noy should have done was to take his dinner quickly at the party, give a brief Christmas message highlighting the tragedy in Northern Mindanao and quickly leave to monitor the situation down south. 

P-Noy has been truly short of quick and urgent responses to tragedy and human misery, as shown by similar situations of socializing while calamities raged in the past, such as during typhoon Basyang, and how can we forget, eating yummy Chinese delicacies while the Luneta fiasco raged.
 Contrast P-Noy's laid back style of responding to calamities to Vice President Jejomar Binay’s response, which was to fly down to CDO last Saturday, just hours after the tragic floods brought death to sleeping residents like a thief in the night. Binay came with two trucks of relief goods in tow and his fast response was doubtless the fruit of long years of local administration, whereas P-Noy was brought up apparently with little responsibility. It shows painfully.


My brother Danny Olivares, who is part owner of a memorial park/ memorial home in Cagayan de Oro, was in the city when Sendong struck. Though he lives in Marikina City, Danny regularly visits CDO because of the memorial establishment his corporation runs, and he was therefore an eyewitness to what he termed “the deadliest catastrophe in the history of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, especially when it is just a few days before the  most joyous feast of Christmas.”  I yield this space to his first-person account and appeal for help, written yesterday:

“You have probably read, saw on TV, received in the internet and in text and cell phone calls about the vicious floods and buhawi (tornado) that pummeled Cagayan de Oro and Iligan early Saturday morning. Since 10 o’clock last Sa turday morning, bodies were being brought to our morgue and over the weekend we had serviced around forty (40) victims and our people have been working round the clock up to this morning, to take care of the bodies even without power and water.  We serviced indigent families for free and gave them free caskets for their victim relatives.

 “After going around the city last Saturday, I feared that there could be at least a thousand more, even entire families, missing, buried in the thick mud or swept out to the sea. Many of these victims were children and babies! Out of the estimated 400 known or found dead in CDO, less than 200 would be given a decent burial. The rest, unidentified and unclaimed, would probably be buried in a mass grave by the government. I lost one employee and several of our employees suffered destruction of their houses beyond repair.  

“But let us not talk about the dead now.  Somehow, they will be taken care of one way or the other.  I refer now to the thousands out there in villages and barangays who managed to survive by clinging to trees, but whose houses and earthly belongings were all swept away by the rampaging waters and swirling tornadoes, destroyed and buried in the mud.  As I write this,  practically  all of Cagayan is still without water, and some parts are still without electricity.  There are speculations that regular water supply may not be available within 30 days. Meanwhile, these people, even those who have dead or missing family members, relatives or friends,  are in refugee centers, in the sidewalks or even in their villages making do with whatever they can salvage, maybe a torn roof sheet--- just to survive the hot day and the cold night, again without food and water.

“The Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro has mobilized to reach out to these poor people.  These people are begging for contributions in cash and in kind, but preferably in cash, so they can rebuild their lives---even build a makeshift shelter over their heads and gather again as a family come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I am making representation on behalf of the Rotary Club to solicit your contribution.  I assure you that with my organization in Cagayan,  your contributions will immediately reach the poorest of the poor.  Pakapalan na ito but please, play Santa to these people now.  God will surely acknowledge your generosity in many ways this Christmas.

“The Rotary Club has opened a new bank account just for this purpose.  Please deposit your contribution to Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro, Current Account  No. 7037517654 Metro Bank (MBTC).  We know that there are many organizations, even church organizations that are now helping.  But the work ahead is unimaginably enormous, and all hands are needed.  I am mobilizing my own employees for this matter.

“Again, hindi nakakahiya to beg, because hindi naman para sa amin ito, but for the least of our brethren who are now victims of a calamity of such magnitude.”

Danny Olivares can be reached at dpolivares@yahoo.com or at cell # 0999 994 2599


Allow me to also reproduce some reactions from readers to recent blogs I’ve written:

"Merry Christmas to All- You are absolutely correct in your article. I am confused as to which way our country is heading. One of the reasons I do not have the motivation to come home is the chaotic government we have. No more civility. Our country is heading to the dogs. Again Merry Christmas and a Prosperous Happy New Year to everybody."  

From JR. of El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053


From Remy R., a regular reader of this blog, in response to the issue of serious allegations of electoral fraud in the May 2010 elections, as raised by Filipino computer professionals, which the Comelec has ignored. I had argued that if these fraud allegations are not looked into, the elections of 2013 could just be a question largely of candidates outbidding one another for electoral victory from automated elections  manipulators.  Regretfully the Comelec chooses to solely focus at the moment on the 2004 and 2007 elections because it wants to nail down former President GMA for good on fraud allegations in those two elections---when the 2013 elections are only a year and a half away.

Wrote Remy:  
“Merry Christmas to you,  Bel!  Is there someone who can charge Comelec for the 2010 election sabotage ? From the study of the three Ateneo computer experts as reported in the Business World, the 2010 election results were dubious and several requirements in the law were not met or deliberately ignored. Is this not more serious than the hearsay used in the 2007 charge to GMA?”

In another email, Remy reacted to my tidbit here about how my friend Sally Perez, former governor of Antique, and I joined the Dec. 14 rally at the Supreme Court where Chief Justice Renato Corona spoke about his determination to lead the fight to protect the Supreme Court from threats to its independence. coming from the Executive and the Lower House of Congress.  I recounted my side remark to Sally that at our age, we grandmothers should just be romping around with our adorable grandchildren, or perhaps “pa-mahjong mahjong or pa-lunch lunch na lang.” But no, there we were in the street enroute to the SC, together with lawyers, young law students and judiciary employees all dressed in black, protesting the bullet-train speed of the CJ’s impeachment---where the legislators were asked to sign the complaint without having read its articles or even raise justified queries.

Wrote Remy:  
“I  myself  am already old and should be enjoying the company of my grandchildren, like yourself.  However, if there is a need, my love of country is my priority. I would not mind joining  any activity, action or protest that will be organized by any responsible and credible leadership. I have friends and colleagues also willing to show their support. “


From Emerita, my former classmate, now living in the US:

"I fear for the Philippines.  The majority  of congressmen are apparently beholden to your president.  Today, I read that he plans to reclaim the Supreme Court, according to De Lima.
If the senators also toe the line with him, then you will have an autocracy. I pray that it will not happen."

From Mary Ann C.

"It is very clear that as a democracy, our government is composed of three INDEPENDENT BRANCHES-- -the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. Didn't our President and his puppets study that in High School? Weird and very sad.  Now I believe that " the only thing we learn from history is that we DO NOT LEARN from it" . 

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