Carvajal: Being non-partisan

WHEN typhoon Yolanda devastated the country, the political opposition accused President Noynoy Aquino and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas of under-reacting to the emergency.

Because Secretary Roxas was the presumptive Liberal Party standard bearer and the opposition was putting out nothing more than shrill negativity, one could reasonably assume the criticism was meant more to gain partisan political capital than to improve the government’s handling of the situation.

This inability of our leaders to be non-partisan at least during national emergencies reared its ugly head again after terrorists killed fourteen and critically injured scores in Davao City. The criticisms hurled at government’s reaction were starkly insensitive to the victims and seemed mainly intended to discredit the President Rodrigo Duterte and not to help government deal with the emergency.

Two lawmakers criticized Digong for over-reacting. But they could not say what would be an exactly calibrated reaction because this is clearly anybody’s call. If so and if the idea is to help and not gain political capital, is it not better to play it safe by over-reacting?

Sen. Leila de Lima cautioned that “terrorism is the enemy not democracy?” What could she have intended with this cryptic remark except to question President Duterte’s measures to curb terrorism? If she was genuinely interested in preventing a recurrence of the fatal event she, a lawyer, should have trusted Duterte, another lawyer, to resort to what “undemocratic” measures government can use to defend democracy.

From wondering why the senator is more interested in the human rights of drug lords than on those of their victims we are now left to wonder why she is more concerned for the rights of terrorists than for the rights of the former’s innocent victims.

Then we have the response of the Commission on Human Rights that is intriguingly suspicious. It may not be partisan but it is the most insensitive of all the responses. All it does is coldly warn President Duterte to respond with justice to the terrorists. Just whose side are they on?

Finally, why do mainstream national media routinely misinterpret Duterte, put words in his mouth, disregard the content of his message but sensationalize its “unpresidential” delivery? Are they not perhaps smarting from being no longer treated as the prima donnas they used to be treated by previous administrations?

For people who are truly concerned for the welfare of Filipinos, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said it best: “We are facing a faceless enemy, and the best way is to get our act together as government and as one people.”

Translation: stop partisan self-interest. Help with constructive criticism.
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