Decorum in relief efforts-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
THERE must be rules of decorum in the handing out of disaster relief.
Politicians described in online discussions as “senatoriables” were seen going with President Benigno Aquino III in his visits to Metro Manila areas hit by massive flooding. Why were they there? This was the question asked by people in online posts.
Did these “senatoriables” think they could get away without a scratch by standing beside the President as props in relief operations? No. They took the brunt of criticisms made on social media networks.
Malacañang released a photo last Wednesday showing the President on board an Army jeep on his way to visit flood victims. With him were Kris Aquino, his sister, and four government officials who the Liberal Party had announced as part of its line-up of senatorial candidates in next year’s elections. The four were Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director general Joel Villanueva, Akbayan party-list spokesperson Risa Hontiveros, Bureau of Customs chief Ruffy Biazon, and Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara.
What would be the roles of the Customs chief or the technical training and education chief at the height of rescue and relief operations?
Some of the online posts on Facebook and Twitter said their presence was a form of early campaigning. Jim G. Arejola, on Facebook, said, “Sadly, the presidential visits were once again converted into impromptu campaign sorties by a handful of Aquino’s favorite candidates for the Senate, who insisted on being present so that the calamity-hit locals would remember them in the polls next May.” Arejola also asked why Angara was in Metro Manila when he should be with his constituents in Aurora.
Another online comment, posted by Raffy Pangilinan on Twitter: “Kailangan talaga mangampanya kahit may trahedya? (Do they have to campaign for votes in the midst of tragedy?) These posts were among those culled by the Sun.Star website at www.sunstar.com.ph to get a sample of Internet users’ sentiments.
There were others who defended the President and the four potential election candidates for giving in this time of need. Never mind that critics might see the relief goods distribution as early campaigning, they said, as what is important is that the people’s urgent needs are addressed.
Hontiveros and Angara have answered their critics by saying they were given the opportunity to help and did not think twice about accepting the offer to join the President. There was no intention to campaign, they said.
Relief efforts in the past have been criticized for being used as venues for those with election ambitions to promote themselves. These officials should have known the same blame could be thrown at them. They could have simply donated without taking credit for it. Aquino’s efforts, anyway, would not be diminished without them.
Their continued presence in the President’s visits speaks of something else despite their denials of early campaigning
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 12, 2012.