President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos turned 65 yesterday and in her post wishing him a happy birthday, Vice President Sara Duterte’s also thanked him for letting her use the presidential chopper so she could get to her children before bedtime each day – a detail that earned mixed reactions from netizens.
“Thank you, PBB (President Bongbong), and your 250th PAW for ensuring that wherever I may be found in the country during the day, I am home in time to tuck my children to bed. Thank you for putting a premium on the desire of a working mother to be present in her children’s lives,” part of her birthday message to the president read.
The 250th PAW she referred to is the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, described as “one of the premier flying units of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) mandated to provide air transport for the President, the immediate members of the Chief Executive’s family, visiting Heads of State/Government, and other local and foreign VIPs.”
While most parents can understand the urge to get home to their children before bedtime and be present in their lives, many stuggle to do so due to grueling work schedules and long commutes. So the idea that the vice president regularly rides a chopper paid for by taxpayers to to be with her kids has divided people’s opinions.
Some saw her as a loving mother who would do anything to be with her children.
“I sincerely admire you, Ma’am, for striking that careful balance between being a public servant and a mother. At the end of the day, working moms like us know that our families, especially our children, are the reasons why we strive to work and make this country a better place to live in,” budget Undersecretary Goddes Hope Libiran wrote.
“I love your message Madam, despite working hard for the country, you make sure to be with your family back home, they need you,” another said.
Yet others thought that making use of a state-owned facility, especially to avoid Manila’s grueling traffic situation, which leaves commuters fighting for space on overcrowded buses, jeepneys, and trains, was in poor taste and an abuse of office.
“A reminder that this is a crime. If you were an employee of a government agency and you used this facility for personal reasons, you would be summoned by the Ombudsman,” a Twitter user wrote, referring to the country’s anti-graft court.
Paalala lamang na isa itong krimen. Kung employee ka ng isang ahensya ng gobyerno at ginamit mo yan for personal reasons Ombudsman ka agad. Uulitin ko, krimen ito. Graft. Kung akala nya nakakatawa, hindi. Nakakasuka. https://t.co/c8nvkjJMwj
— 𝙷𝚎𝚕𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚔𝚎𝚕𝚝𝚎𝚛 𓃠 (@helterskelt3rrr) September 13, 2022
“That’s people’s money. She should be thanking the Filipinos,” another said.
“Wow, how privileged that she gets to travel every day to Davao? I wonder how much the fuel, maintenance, and pilot fees cost? And the audacity to thank Junior as if these come from his own pocket?”
Wow, yayamanin at araw-araw nagba-biyahe sa Davao? Musta naman ang laki ng gastos sa fuel, maintenance at pasahod sa mga piloto?
Tapos kay Junior magpapasalamat as if sarili nyang pera niya ang ginagamit/ginagastos?
Pakapalan talaga ng mukha.
— Leisbeth Recto (@leisbeth_recto) September 13, 2022
Reddit user dmeinein posted a comic that illustrates the stark difference between Duterte being able to make it home to her children via chopper, and the lives of ordinary Filipinos just sticking it out in the city.
“Isn’t the president so kind? He lent the VP a helicopter so she can get home every day just before her kids go to bed, ” the character says before adding, “Sigh, the bus is taking so long to get here. I hope my kid’s still up when I get home.”