With everything happening in our country now, one wonders where is the President in all this? It’s almost Christmas – the time for merrymaking before the year ends but there will be no rounds of holiday cheers in devastated Mindanao – particularly Cagayan de Oro. The place has been ravaged by Typhoon Sendong to the point that funeral homes are now faced with the dilemma of burying the almost 500 casualties. Aside from the usual call for relief goods, there is a plea for additional coffins, formalin and body bags.
It is indeed devastating. The country is left grieving at such destruction so close to Christmas. And amid all these turmoil, where is the President?
In a tweet by a celebrity, he is allegedly enjoying himself at a night of party laughing candidly at said celebrity’s jokes. In a follow up tweet, the celebrity apologized if her earlier tweet was deemed insensitive. She claimed that the President did has his duties to his employees and that enjoying a party didn’t mean he was not thinking of ways to help out the devastated parts of the country. This statement was made amid the issues created by such tweet.
Indeed I cannot blame PNoy for wanting to enjoy the holiday cheer. I can just imagine the stress he’s in and the pressure being a President has put on him. In fact, I do not doubt if he is regretting being president right now. He was not so keen after all to run for President during the 2010 elections. He was more like forced into it by the death of his mother.
This is also not the first time PNoy has been accused of being inactive in the face of a national crisis. There’s the Quirino Grandstand Hostage Taking which people felt PNoy could have done better; there’s the devastation by Typhoon Pedring and Quiel where PNoy visited the sites – after the devastation was over. He doesn’t like being showy about his support. He doesn’t even like photo shoots.
PNoy has his own brand of governance which many perceive to be laid back. He has even been called lazy by some. He simply doesn’t like being in the thick of things. He is not like past presidents which immediately travel to devastated areas, surveying the damage and rallying the supports. That simply is not his brand.
The question though is – does he have the liberty to run the country in his own style? Is he taking too much liberty in running it the way he wants to? I do not question his cleaning up the government – impeaching an Ombudsman and a Supreme Court Justice – if that is the way for his tuwid na daan to push through. I do not question his putting a higher priority in eliminating corruption over improving the country’s economy. But I sincerely question his action in the face of adversity – or the lack of it.
Given that he, in his own private ways, away from the lenses of cameras, is deliberating ways to help out the calamity stricken citizens. Given that to somehow lessen the stress and pressure he is feeling, he went to an official party (it was his employees’ Christmas Party after all) and enjoyed his evening. He is doing something after all and de-stressing is simply part of the deal. But the public needs his presence more than anything else.
In a time of nationwide crisis, apart from the behind-the-camera work he is doing, what the public needs is his image – surveying the damage and rallying the troops. He was elected into office not just to lead the country and serve the people but to also inspire and give them hope. Just like the kings of medieval times whose presence are needed in battles to give the soldiers hope, our country’s President, to become effective, need to also make his presence felt. Of course he need to work on real concrete and effective solutions but then he must also be visible and public.
Once he embraced the life of a public servant, specifically that of the highest rank in the land, he forego most of his privacy and lived his life in complete service to the people who placed him in office.
Sidenote: The celebrity also has her share in the blame. As they say, think before you click. She should have thought out the implications of her tweet before sending it to cyberspace. However, the public would have been more forgiving and understanding of PNoy’s behavior if his behavior is one of active involvement instead of laid back action.