Editorial: Shut up and work

·3 min read

If one goes by the argument that Vice President Leni Robredo is playing politics in the recent aid work in the typhoon-ravaged provinces in northern Luzon, one is probably schooled by something alien. For one, Robredo is a public official and whatever she does to help affected citizens under duress is a public function.

But here is the tricky part when one uses the word “politics.” Ignorant appropriations of the word consigned the word to “allegiance” or anything one does to win electorates. No small wonder all the social media squabble use the word like a stink bomb.

For one, politics is “governance,” and that at once involves having to deal with contesting ideologies, inherent in a state. But it also means a pretty good sense in the use of one’s power.

Our public officials hold the ball of power, which is heavy with public funds and a great deal of accountability. Robredo, the “spare tire” that she is, to use Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s words, holds meager resources and could not deploy as much government resources as the President can. Much of the publicity on her current work says she has been relying heavily on the generosity of private individuals and institutions. Her work is well documented, transparent, and expectedly drummed up by her legions of supporters on social media, unsettling a sector of daydreamers for the 2022 polls. On the other hand, yes, she may tap government resources such as those of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for help in the deployment of relief goods for the typhoon victims.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte, insulated in his high place as the country’s top executive, may have been gullible enough to buy toxic information by ill-meaning tattlers, and thus was inappropriately fuming at his VP.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana would later apologize to VP Robredo, admitting that he received false information that the latter used a military aircraft to deliver aid to ravaged Bicol. Former Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo also shared the same information, and had later promptly apologized as well. All that ironed out, it appears now that the President’s diatribes against the VP just lost ground, and it would be nothing but statemanly to say sorry as well.

It would also be most helpful that the President draws the line as far as public pronouncements are concerned. Earlier, netizens asked where he was because in a time of crisis, public anxiety dreads a vacuum. With a record of repeated budget cuts in disaster preparedness in the years under the Duterte administration, the punch that the recent spate of typhoons packed into the country’s breadbasket calls for a policy response pronouncement from no less than the leader of the country. It was bad timing, too, that the more audible message that the President uttered was that he couldn’t swim with the flood survivors because his security won’t allow him to. The ensuing stir it caused glossed over whatever official business government was doing in response to the calamity.

Oh, for one moment, if the President could just shut up and not steal the limelight from all the efforts of government—the soldiers and engineers included—on the ground.