When we asked the Comm Group, “Where was the President?”

Rock Ed Radio had the chance to talk to Presidential Comm Group USecs Quezon and Valte last night.

We asked them why the President didn’t deliver a message on the first day or within the first half day of the big typhoon that left parts of Northern Mindanao in states of calamity.

One explanation given us (and I hope I’m remembering this right) is that his silence was not an indication of non-involvement nor non-action on his part.  According to USec Valte as early as a bit before noon the President was already monitoring the aftermath, discussing with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Dept of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as well as the Armed Forces (AFP) on how to take on the search and rescue (then eventually the rehabilitation) of the struck areas.

So I pressed a bit, “Then why not come out with a one minute press statement that encourages, gathers, comforts, whatever else that is obviously expected by most citizens?”  USec Quezon explains it is his ‘leadership style’ to not grandstand before he has numbers, facts, or a concrete plan of action.

Marcus Adoro (guitarist, Eraserheads) asked then why doesn’t he at least inform us that he is surveying anyway.  And again, most of the discussion went back to his ‘leadership style.’

So I asked again, now that the President knows that this is the general reaction (“Where is he? Why isn’t he talking to us, offering comfort, encouraging participation, assuring us that the institutions in place will exhaust all means to address urgent needs..?”)  …I asked, “Is there a chance he will change to accommodate this persistent request?”

USec Quezon said (and I merely paraphrase here) that perhaps many of us expect him to be like his mother, former President Corazon Aquino, who was naturally more motherly and softer when it came to these responses to tragedy.  Did it ever occur to us that his leadership style is different? (We all nod yes.)   Both Valte and Quezon explained that he understands that the presidency is to be able to allocate resources, to make decisions that will (at the end of the day, quote unquote) provide services to the citizens.  And since this is how he sees it, the President seems to see no need to do the traditional rah-rah, don’t worry, here’s comfort speech.  The President wants to speak, according to the USecs, when he already has the facts, the strategy, the plan to present, and some action already being begun.

Shawn Yap (Host, TV5) then said, perhaps in the end if it’s between a politician who does nothing but grand stand and an official who will do some work first before he speaks, then the present option isn’t too bad. Though she looked like she was stretching.  (hehe, sorry Shawn, do correct me if I’m wrong)

But something still gnawed at me.  I am obviously one of the many who want the administration to do well for the sake of, I don’t know….. everyone?  I’m sure even those who politically hate the Aquinos do not wish this administration doom because damay tayo lahat kung gano’n.

Is this a case of “Aquino would rather walk more than he talks?”  Perhaps.  At least that’s the explanation both Valte and Quezon gave me.  As I respectfully stressed though, I still would’ve preferred that he gave a rah-rah speech anyway.  If the choice was to be misinterpreted as “merely grandstanding” — or to be mistaken as indifferent, as ‘a President without pathos’ – I wondered, wouldn’t he rather be the former?

I asked again, “So this is merely a leadership style, right?”  (Yes, they both nod.)  (” Yes.” My cellphone chimes and it is Press Secretary Edwin Lacierda, apparently tuned in to the radio show, too.)

I’m nitpicking, am I?

Okay before I let it rest, let me say what I’ve learned tonight.

The President won the mandate, even the apolitical know that.  Okay so now I’m wondering.  When I vote, do I say, “I choose you because I believe you will make the best decisions for us, thinking of our welfare foremost, and that you have the smarts to keep the machinery of institutions running.”

Or do I vote saying, “I vote for you because you will do everything I want you to do and choose everything I prefer as well.”

Who’s being the brat here?  Me or him?   Don’t answer that.   I’m not done thinking this through yet. Perhaps that’s not even the right question.   😛

Shit. I can’t finish the article.  I am exhausted.  It’s 541am.   Lots to do.


Maybe you can help me out.

What do you think?

(almost 6am waiting for Typhoon Sendong relief ops video files to render)

Note: Last night was an emergency broadcast to consolidate information on Typhoon Sendong. Rock Ed Radio will return to Jam 88.3 in January 2012.   Thursdays 9pm.


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8 responses to “When we asked the Comm Group, “Where was the President?”

  • thinking_aloud

    I think people don’t have trust anymore with our government so we have the need to always know what our government is doing instead of “trusting” them to do their jobs and then do our own part to help. I understand that is difficult to trust politicians but we must do it so they can work effectively.

  • lut

    i guess we are all victims of our own “paradigm” so to speak. we are quick to judge based on our own paradigm. just what steven covey said in his 7 habits…paradigm shift..to attain peace within us and to the world..we must change and willing to shift our own paradigm.

  • siyetehan

    If it’s a case of the president should rather walk more than he talks, then he didn’t he didn’t seem to have displayed both in this last catastrophe. mabuti pa si gloria, nagpupunta agad sa lugar ng sakuna.

    what numbers, facts and concrete action plans is he waiting for before he gives an official statement, anyway? hindi pa ba sapat na makitang marami nang nasalanta at buhay na nalagas?


  • weckl

    While I would like to believe that really does walk the talk, I’d rather that he talks while he walks.

  • Johanna

    It’s not about style, it’s about his obligation as a leader of the nation. As such, you have an obligation to make your presence felt at a time when people naturally turn to their leader and reassure them that a)you actually are aware of the seriousness of the situation b) you are working to address it. The fact that he stubbornly refuses to shoulder that obligation because it’s just not his “style” is incredibly insensitive, arrogant and immature, especially for a head of state.

  • anne santos

    the first sentence of your third paragraph says it all–this comm group is too defensive. maybe they don’t have a decent communications plan. maybe they don’t plan at all.

  • JCP

    I’d rather see the cabinet secretaries and local gov’t officials do the talking and walking. It’s high time we remind ourselves that our “local leaders” are our leaders, too, and that we should not always rely on “the president” for aid every single time. We must develop the capacity to work on the “local” level, with or without the president there to see us through.

    Siyempre, the specific example above is an exception — but where were the local gov’t officials at the time — they should be held accountable as well. Sila muna, then the president (too).

    Perhaps what we want to see is the president engaging the local gov’t officials in conversation, planning, etc.? So we know how he actually is as a leader, and how our local leaders actually fare when it comes to discussion, execution of ideas.

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