Jojo A. Robles


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As Dave Barry said, I am not making this up: The ambassador of Thailand, Prasas Prasasvinitchai, was warned that he would be recalled to his home country if he did not course a shipment of relief goods donated to the Philippines through the, uh, proper channels.


Prasasvinitchai earlier informed the Department of Foreign Affairs that the shipment of relief goods from the Thai royal family was to arrive today at Cebu’s Mactan airport, on board a Royal Thai Air Force C-130 plane. The envoy requested merely that DFA arrange for a ranking Philippine official to receive the donation.

Because President Noynoy Aquino was out camping in Tacloban, the ambassador suggested that the second-highest ranked official, Vice President Jejomar Binay, meet the Thai plane in Cebu. DFA said it would look into the request.

When they got back to him, DFA officials said the “higher ups” had decided that an assistant secretary and an official of the NDRRMC would meet the planeload of donations. Furthermore, they said, if the ambassador insisted on having Binay accept the donations, he would be expelled from Manila.

Wonderful, right? At least, as someone else said, the ambassador is still alive.

* * *

When CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked President Noynoy Aquino if he thought that the failure of his government to respond properly to disasters would define his presidency, she was asking a fair question. With so little time left for Aquino to leave behind a real legacy, he may end up being remembered for being long on talk but unbelievably short on accomplishment or even empathy.

In the final days of the Marcos dictatorship, government was derisively described as a kleptocracy, existing primarily to loot the treasury. I think the current administration, which is now known worldwide for its inability to respond to crisis situations, can aptly be called an ineptocracy.

Since the fiasco that has become known as the Rizal Park hostage massacre of 2010, Aquino has limped from crisis to crisis, getting more beat up as he continues on a path that he calls straight. Along the way, his vaunted popularity has continued to erode, faster than the thinning hair on his head.

It would certainly be interesting to find out how much Aquino’s popularity among the so-called A and B classes, who are exposed to the unflattering reportage of the foreign media and the growing disenchantment in the social media (think Peque Gallaga), has slipped since the debacle in Tacloban. And how his numbers would go down in the Visayas, where the recent earthquake and Yolanda wreaked havoc and virtually created a new underclass of calamity-stricken rural poor along the way.

The irony, of course, is that Aquino continues to believe that majority of the population remain firmly behind him, despite his administration’s obvious lack of preparation and proper response in crisis situations. The further irony is that this President is so obsessed with his ratings, which, even if no calamity or disaster had actually taken place, would by necessity plummet due to the political equivalent of gravity.

Of course, it doesn’t help Aquino that, despite his declarations of preparedness and worthiness for office, nature seems to conspire to make him look like the head of the student government that he really is. Perhaps there is really some truth to the so-called “Aquino curse” of calamity, first noted during the presidency of his mother, after all.

Cory’s stormy term was also buffeted by calamities, natural in the case of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and manmade in the form of the never-ending coup attempts and day-long blackouts. But she was, ultimately, a transition President, who had the tough and painful task of leading this country back to democracy.

Cory’s son has no such excuse. He is merely inept for no good reason – and that will probably be what he will be remembered for, regardless of whatever else he does in the remainder of his term.

* * *

It appears that the Malacanang-friendly network ABS-CBN has suspended anchor Korina Sanchez for a week for castigating CNN senior correspondent Anderson Cooper for “not knowing what he was saying” when he reported about the lack of government response in Tacloban. But the network is just as guilty in the debacle as Sanchez, whom they kept on despite the fact that she is in an obvious conflict of interest situation, as the wife of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

Of course, Sanchez can be expected to come to government’s defense, especially since her husband is supposedly at the front lines of the relief and rehabilitation effort. Now that she did what was expected, why can’t her bosses – who must have known this was going to happen – blame themselves as well and remedy the situation?

And how true is it that Malacanang Palace called up CNN officials in Atlanta to complain about Cooper’s reporting, which led to the recent pullout of the renowned crisis reporter from the Philippines? Cooper has never been known to leave a crisis situation before, and yet was unceremoniously removed from reporting on Tacloban and other areas devastated by the typhoon.


A week’s suspension for Sanchez in exchange for the pullout of Cooper. Sounds like a deal to me.

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