Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed Mr. Duterte’s absence to provide relief to the thousands of Filipinos left stranded or homeless from the destruction caused by the monsoon rains that recently hit various parts of Luzon.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development Committee, said Duterte’s absence amid a calamity only reaffirms that he has no genuine concern for the plight of the Filipino people, especially the marginalized.
“Ni anino ni Duterte ay di mahagilap sa gitna ng sakunang dala ng mga pagbaha at pag-ulang pinalubha ng habagat. Sa maraming apektado ng kalamidad, lalo na sa Kamaynilaan at mga karatig na probinsya, walang Duterte silang nakitaan o naringgan man lang ng pagmamalasakit,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 363.
“Ang malubha pa: missing in action din si Disaster Relief Chief Nicanor Faeldon na buong saya pang ibinabalita ang bakasyon niya ng kanyang pamilya,” she added.
De Lima was also referring to the absence of Nicanor Faeldon whom Duterte appointed as deputy administrator of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), a disaster-response agency under the Department of National Defense.
When flood sank various parts of Metro Manila leaving thousands of Filipinos stranded or homeless from the storms’ destruction last week, Duterte and Faeldon were visibly missing in action.
Duterte’s absence prompted the public to ask, “Nasaan ang Pangulo?” which gave rise to the trending hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo on social media.
Duterte’s spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque, confirmed that the President was keeping warm but was monitoring the government’s response in flood-hit areas, which raised questions about Duterte’s leadership and the state’s disaster management.
Faeldon, on his part, was on a vacation with his family. In a Facebook post dated Aug. 11, he posted photos from his family’s “weekend trip” to Oriental Mindoro.
“Paano niya [Faeldon] nakayanang sikmurain na magliwaliw pa habang libo-libong kababayan natin ang hindi pagkamayaw sa paglikas at paghahanap ng matutulugan, pagkain at tubig?” De Lima asked.
Citing the saying of the marines “the captain of the ship goes down with the ship,” De Lima said, “In this case, Duterte, the supposed captain of the country, was nowhere to be seen. And his First Mate? In the comforts of his weekend home, without even a tinge of care – happily resting in the middle of a raging storm.”
De Lima shared she once heard of Duterte’s “evacuee-induced allergy” from several people in Marawi who claimed that the President would go to military camps but strangely refuse to visit evacuation centers.
“At hindi ba nga niyayabang pa niya na handa rin daw syang pumunta sa kuta ng Abu Sayyaf? Pero simpleng pagbisita sa mga nasalanta ng habagat at pagbaha – o kahit maigsing pahayag ng pakikiramay man lang – ay hindi magawa ni Duterte. Tapang at malasakit? Ano raw?” she said.
“Kaya napakalinaw: isang malaking pambobola ang sabihing tunay na matapang at nagmamalasakit si Duterte. Matagal nang naanod ng baha at nalipad ng habagat ang campaign slogan na yan,” she added.