Fuss over PNoy coming and not coming

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

“I waited till I saw the sun/I don’t know why I didn’t come...” -- From the Norah Jones song “Don’t Know Why”

PRESIDENT AQUINO went to Zamboanga City during the MILF siege and visited Tacloban City when Yolanda battered Leyte. He didn’t come to northern Cebu that the super-storm also ravaged. He showed up at an Edsa mall that a “martillo” gang robbed.
He didn’t visit Paraaque City where a bus accident killed 18 people.

What scenes of tragedy or crime must a president visit or skip?

He was praised for coming to Zamboanga and Leyte.

He was rapped for not coming to Cebu and blasted as well for visiting the mall robbery site.

PNoy is super-busy although a president once said “the country could run without me.”

After all, the government is crawling with managers in all levels of bureaucracy.

Yet there are times when presidential presence is crucial, for what he can do in person that other bureaucrats can’t do, such as sharing pain of tragedy or joy of festivity and serving notice that the chief executive is alive and in charge.


Absence can mean unconcern, as in the 2010 Luneta hostage taking, when he surfaced late (and when he did, Hong Kongers were incensed because they mistook his grin for insensitivity). Presence can also signify coddling of special interests, as in the crime scene visit that an activist labor group deemed public display of affection for big business.

Tricky and baffling: like the woman in the Norah Jones song, trapped in an ambivalent love, one wouldn’t always know when to come and when not to.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 19, 2013.


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