Anderson Cooper

Who Is In Charge of Local Disaster Management?

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opinyon-opinion

By Ike Señeres

PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino set the right tone when he said that we need not wait for a disaster in order to help each other, because there are many poor people who need our help every day. How I wish that his message will be heard not only by the people in the government, but also by all Filipinos here and abroad. As I see it, he actually issued a call for action, in a way declaring a war against poverty on a daily basis.

I find it amusing that our entire nation was scandalized by the ten billion pesos more or less that was stolen by the pork barrel scam, when in fact the amount was less than 2% of the national budget. Perhaps our national outrage was triggered by the high level of noise that the issue caused in the mass media, but how come no one seems to pay attention to how the rest of the 98% is being spent? Will this not need the same level of noise that the mass media gave to the pork barrel issue?

Our National Government Agencies (NGAs) are the institutions that are supposed to work on a daily basis, and these are the same institutions that are funded on a yearly basis by the General Appropriations Act (GAA). This is what line item budgeting basically means, to appropriate annual budgets to line agencies, instead of appropriating the funds by way of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

By way of comparison, line item budgets are for objective purposes, intended to fund projects that are programmed for implementation by the NGAs. The PDAF on the other hand is, or was intended for subjective purposes, referring to local development projects that could not be “seen” by the Congress from where they sit. The legal fiction here is that only the local people could “see” the need for these projects, supposedly with the guiding “eyes” of their congressman.

As the head of the executive branch of the government, the President is in effect the head of all the NGAs, the same agencies that are supposed to work on a daily basis. In theory, the President does not have to order the actual heads of these agencies to do anything, because they are supposed to think and act on their own, without waiting for the President to tell them what to do. This is what institutions are supposed to do, and that is the reason why they are funded by the Congress to do what they are supposed to do.

What did CNN news anchor Mr. Anderson Cooper mean when he said that there was “no government” in Tacloban? What did he mean when he said that “there was no one in charge”? Was he referring to the local government, or the national government? As a matter of fact, the local Mayor was still around, even if he was practically paralyzed to do anything at all. Was he referring to the national government? Did he not notice that the NGAs were there on the ground from day one?

Considering the fact that the local government was practically paralyzed in Tacloban, there is no debate that the national government was there, and so it is not correct to say that there was “no government”. That said, the only remaining question is whether or not there was someone “in charge”, as asked by Mr. Cooper. As I see it, there was someone “in charge”, even if Cooper did not recognize him. I am sure that there were many local officials of the national government who were there when Cooper was there, but perhaps he was looking for someone higher.

There is no question about the fact that the President is “in charge” of national affairs, whether there is a disaster or not. Same is true about the fact that the Mayor is always “in charge” of local affairs no matter what, period. The case of Tacloban is an obvious exception to the rule, because the Mayor there was a victim himself, aside from the fact that he was left with no means to function. Since Tacloban is a chartered city, is it the reason why the provincial Governor did not see a reason to be the one “in charge”?

President Aquino was correct when he said that in our system, it is the local government that is the first line of defense. The problem is, the general public, as they are fired up by the mass media, would always want the President to be on the scene right away, as if he has nothing else to do. As the news would usually come out, it is even implied that if the President is not on the scene right away, he is probably not doing anything.

I think that it is a dangerous trend to always expect the President to practically behave like a Mayor. It seems that President Aquino is not the type who is not inclined to always hug the headlines, but imagine what will happen if we will have a President in the future who will hug the headlines all the time, in order to satisfy the demand of the general public? What will happen to all the other urgent national concerns that the President is supposed to attend to?

In this time and age of high tech communications, it is more practical to assume that the President would have the means to give instructions to his subordinates wherever they are, and at any time. In reality, the Command Post is where the President is, and from that point, he could order everyone in the bureaucracy and the military to do what they have to do, as they are supposed to do. If the President is not seen on the scene, it does not necessarily mean that he is not doing anything.
For feedback, email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639083159262

The Deluge and Its Apocalyptic Aftermath (Conclusion)

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By Atty. Salvador Panelo

ANDERSON Cooper’s commentary and observation on the Tacloban City situation went viral on the internet receiving a biting reaction from the famed and feisty ABC,-CBN Broadcaster Korina Sanchez, who happened to be the wife of Cabinet member and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, who, together with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, is in charge of the relief operations.

Korina Sanchez retorted to Anderson Cooper: “Anderson Cooper is not aware of what he is taking about.”

That reaction also went viral, too, in the internet.

In his CNN program, Anderson Cooper riposted to Korina Sanchez’s reaction:
“Mrs. Sanchez is welcome to go there in Tacloban – and I would urge her to go there. I don’t know if she has but her husband’s the interior minister. I’m sure he can arrange a flight.”

Of course the exchange between a local and an international broadcaster caught the attention of netizens and CNN & ABS-CBN viewers, and they expressed their sentiments on the exchange. Some siding with Anderson Cooper, while others took the side of Korina Sanchez.

My our son-lawyer Salvador A. Panelo, Jr., who could not contain his sentiment on the Anderson Cooper-Korina Sanchez tiff, as well as with those criticizing the government for its inadequate preparation to neutralize the effects of the hauler typhoon – and the national governments apparent slow response to the victims, posted in his Facebook, and in my Twitter account, the following statement:

“I agree with Korina Sanchez that Anderson Cooper does not know what he is talking about.”
Criticism of government response to major natural or environmental disasters is universal. The US government response to Hurricane Katrina in 2006 was a failure of leadership. “Even Japan with their much-vaunted reputation for organization was criticized for its slow response to the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and the consequent Fukishima leak. We should keep this in mind when assessing the performance of our own government. We should also keep in mind that while Mr. Cooper may very well be genuinely concerned about the pace of government, response, he is also very much in the business of selling news.

I firmly believe that our government is doing its best to help the victims of Yolanda. This is not inconsistent with the fact that its best may not be good or fast enough for everyone affected given the magnitude of the destruction and the various limitations and issues that mere observers can not fully appreciate.

Let us not forget that significant government resources are possibly still tied up to Bohol and Zamboanga.

I do think that P-Noy could have better explained why the government response could not come sooner and why air cannot be distributed faster. Let us just hope that that was more of a failure of speech and rhetoric, rather than leadership. We can take him to task for that later. For now, our unfortunate Visayan brothers and sisters need us to heed the advice we wished P-Noy had followed: stop pointing fingers. Let us help how we can help our government and let us follow through!”

This writer’s take on the matter on the Anderson-Korina exchange is that both of them are correct. Anderson Cooper, as CNN correspondent reporting live on the ground, was speaking on the basis of what his eyes could see. In his limited view of a portion of Tacloban City he formed an opinion – factually accurate – but not necessarily true for the entire devastated eastern Visayas, particularly the Leyte and Samar provinces that bore the brunt of Typhoon Yolanda – hence Korina Sanchez was also correct in saying that Anderson Cooper was giving an inaccurate situationer in Tacloban – because as wife of the DILG Secretary, she has direct access to the information with regard to the extent of government’s response to the victim’s plight – as well as she had communication link with other reporters doing their investigative and reporting work in other areas of Tacloban City – and the rest of the typhoon–ravaged places in the Visayas – not to mention the fact that she was herself in Ormoc City, another city reeling from the effects of the typhoon doing her reportorial job as a journalist as well as doing relief work and necessarily she has an expanded view of the realities in the relief operations and the government’s response to the victims.

As correctly pointed out by this columnist’s son, this is not the time for finger-pointing of blame – rather this is the moment for everyone to do his share – and to the best of his capacity and ability extend his help in responding to the victims of this latest tragedy in the Philippines.

During the last few days, the government’s response has considerably scaled up – and there is now an organized and faster relief works.

Meanwhile, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of help from twenty eight (28) countries sending huge amount of cash, hundreds of thousands of relief goods, as well as doctors and nurses, to the typhoon affected areas. Organizations like the Red Cross and other private organizations have poured in and combined their resources to give succor to the victims. Private persons and family members went in droves to the DSWD and the ABS-CBN warehouses, lending their manpower to do repacking work of relief goods.

Filipinos, here and abroad, have all come together and raised funds for the victims – and rehabilitation of the damaged communities.

Even the United Nations has stepped in and lend its enormous resources to help the tragic victims.
UN Undersecretary General Valerie Amos, who is in the country for the UN’s relief operations has expressed satisfaction on the much improved distribution of relief goods as well as her amazement at the spirit and resilience of Filipinos who face a herculean reconstruction job. Said she:

“I continue to be struck by the resilience and spirit of the Filipino people. Everywhere I visited, I saw families determined to rebuild their lives under the most difficult conditions.

So people are, of course, to an intent traumatized by what happened. They have lost loved ones, but at the same time they’re trying to look to the future.

I saw images of daily life amid scenes of devastation. Women either cooking in make shift kitchen or doing laundry and men clearing debris and scavenging for materials to rebuild their destroyed homes.”

Evaluating the flow of aid, the UN Undersecretary-General gave the following observation:

“Everyday aid efforts gather pace with the systems getting through to more people. Significant food and medical assistance has been provided and water services, as well as limited communications services, restored.”

Per its estimation, the United Nations reports that 1.1 million have received food aid since the disaster struck – and only less than the 2.5 million affected residents have yet to receive food aid. Amos noted that “water services have been restored in Capiz, Northern Cebu and Roxas City, with 43 medical teams from various international groups – and 44 local – providing medical services to the survivors.”

The United Nations added in its report that about “5 million children in disaster areas are in need of emergency shelter, protection and psychological support.”

Amos noted further that “there is a need to establish safe places for children given that 90 percent of day care centers in ravaged towns and cities were destroyed.”

The “spirit and resilience” of the Filipinos did not escape the observation of the Vatican in Rome.

Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who is in Manila to attend the Catholic Social Media Summit at the Colegio San Juan de Letran, told the reporters:

“We want to express our admiration for the spirit of the Filipino people. We have been seeing terrible devastation but we have also been witnessing the extraordinary cure, consideration and generosity of your own people.”

Everything shall come to pass. Hopefully, the national and local governments have learned their lessons well following the aftermath of the deluge – and will be more prepared and cope with typhoons of similar intensity that are sure to come given the global warming and climate change.

The eastern Visayas will surely rise from its ruins – and there is no stopping it from resurrecting itself from its ashes.
There is however a grim reality that is inescapable – and that is that the thousands of inhabitants of the ravaged Eastern Visayas, are poverty stricken. Their houses or what appears to be houses, are made of cheap and weak construction materials that can be easily blown over by super-typhoons in the like of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) – and torn to pieces.

Rebuilding and reconstructing those inferior structures will not provide their security and safety from the angry forces of nature. And every super-typhoon that comes will repeat the same nightmare of destruction and death.

And such probability and eventuality of extensive destruction in lives and property is not limited to the Eastern Visayas section of our country – but to the entire archipelago as well – as indeed the majority of our countrymen are living in object poverty – and in hand to mouth existence.

No amount of relief goods and rehabilitation work coming from within and without the country, can alter the status in life of these Filipinos. There must be an overhauling of the social structures of our society to effect the even distribution of the nation’s wealth and the means of production.

Hopefully, the gods of destiny will anoint men and women of pure heart and possessed of unselfish love that will cause the radical change of our political and social structure – before the downtrodden masses rise in righteous indignation and revolt and destroy the existing order.
***
For Feedback:
E-mail: salvadorpanelo@rocketmail.com
Facebook: panelosalvador@gmail.com
Twitter: attysalvadorpanelo
Text to: 0918-862- 7777

The Deluge and Its Apocalyptic Aftermath (Conclusion)

Posted on Updated on

by Atty. Salvador Panelo

ANDERSON Cooper’s commentary and observation on the Tacloban City situation went viral on the internet receiving a biting reaction from the famed and feisty ABC,-CBN Broadcaster Korina Sanchez, who happened to be the wife of Cabinet member and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, who, together with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, is in charge of the relief operations.
Korina Sanchez retorted to Anderson Cooper: “Anderson Cooper is not aware of what he is taking about.”

That reaction also went viral, too, in the internet.

In his CNN program, Anderson Cooper riposted to Korina Sanchez’s reaction:
“Mrs. Sanchez is welcome to go there in Tacloban – and I would urge her to go there. I don’t know if she has but her husband’s the interior minister. I’m sure he can arrange a flight.”

Of course the exchange between a local and an international broadcaster caught the attention of netizens and CNN & ABS-CBN viewers, and they expressed their sentiments on the exchange. Some siding with Anderson Cooper, while others took the side of Korina Sanchez.

My our son-lawyer Salvador A. Panelo, Jr., who could not contain his sentiment on the Anderson Cooper-Korina Sanchez tiff, as well as with those criticizing the government for its inadequate preparation to neutralize the effects of the hauler typhoon – and the national governments apparent slow response to the victims, posted in his Facebook, and in my Twitter account, the following statement:

“I agree with Korina Sanchez that Anderson Cooper does not know what he is talking about.

Criticism of government response to major natural or environmental disasters is universal. The US government response to Hurricane Katrina in 2006 was a failure of leadership. “Even Japan with their much-vaunted reputation for organization was criticized for its slow response to the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and the consequent Fukishima leak. We should keep this in mind when assessing the performance of our own government. We should also keep in mind that while Mr. Cooper may very well be genuinely concerned about the pace of government, response, he is also very much in the business of selling news.

I firmly believe that our government is doing its best to help the victims of Yolanda. This is not inconsistent with the fact that its best may not be good or fast enough for everyone affected given the magnitude of the destruction and the various limitations and issues that mere observers can not fully appreciate.

Let us not forget that significant government resources are possibly still tied up to Bohol and Zamboanga.

I do think that P-Noy could have better explained why the government response could not come sooner and why air cannot be distributed faster. Let us just hope that that was more of a failure of speech and rhetoric, rather than leadership. We can take him to task for that later. For now, our unfortunate Visayan brothers and sisters need us to heed the advice we wished P-Noy had followed: stop pointing fingers. Let us help how we can help our government and let us follow through!”

This writer’s take on the matter on the Anderson-Korina exchange is that both of them are correct. Anderson Cooper, as CNN correspondent reporting live on the ground, was speaking on the basis of what his eyes could see. In his limited view of a portion of Tacloban City he formed an opinion – factually accurate – but not necessarily true for the entire devastated eastern Visayas, particularly the Leyte and Samar provinces that bore the brunt of Typhoon Yolanda – hence Korina Sanchez was also correct in saying that Anderson Cooper was giving an inaccurate situationer in Tacloban – because as wife of the DILG Secretary, she has direct access to the information with regard to the extent of government’s response to the victim’s plight – as well as she had communication link with other reporters doing their investigative and reporting work in other areas of Tacloban City – and the rest of the typhoon–ravaged places in the Visayas – not to mention the fact that she was herself in Ormoc City, another city reeling from the effects of the typhoon doing her reportorial job as a journalist as well as doing relief work and necessarily she has an expanded view of the realities in the relief operations and the government’s response to the victims.

As correctly pointed out by this columnist’s son, this is not the time for finger-pointing of blame – rather this is the moment for everyone to do his share – and to the best of his capacity and ability extend his help in responding to the victims of this latest tragedy in the Philippines.

During the last few days, the government’s response has considerably scaled up – and there is now an organized and faster relief works.

Meanwhile, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of help from twenty eight (28) countries sending huge amount of cash, hundreds of thousands of relief goods, as well as doctors and nurses, to the typhoon affected areas. Organizations like the Red Cross and other private organizations have poured in and combined their resources to give succor to the victims. Private persons and family members went in droves to the DSWD and the ABS-CBN warehouses, lending their manpower to do repacking work of relief goods.

Filipinos, here and abroad, have all come together and raised funds for the victims – and rehabilitation of the damaged communities.

Even the United Nations has stepped in and lend its enormous resources to help the tragic victims.
UN Undersecretary General Valerie Amos, who is in the country for the UN’s relief operations has expressed satisfaction on the much improved distribution of relief goods as well as her amazement at the spirit and resilience of Filipinos who face a herculean reconstruction job. Said she:

“I continue to be struck by the resilience and spirit of the Filipino people. Everywhere I visited, I saw families determined to rebuild their lives under the most difficult conditions.

So people are, of course, to an intent traumatized by what happened. They have lost loved ones, but at the same time they’re trying to look to the future.

I saw images of daily life amid scenes of devastation. Women either cooking in make shift kitchen or doing laundry and men clearing debris and scavenging for materials to rebuild their destroyed homes.”

Evaluating the flow of aid, the UN Undersecretary-General gave the following observation:

“Everyday aid efforts gather pace with the systems getting through to more people. Significant food and medical assistance has been provided and water services, as well as limited communications services, restored.”

Per its estimation, the United Nations reports that 1.1 million have received food aid since the disaster struck – and only less than the 2.5 million affected residents have yet to receive food aid. Amos noted that “water services have been restored in Capiz, Northern Cebu and Roxas City, with 43 medical teams from various international groups – and 44 local – providing medical services to the survivors.”

The United Nations added in its report that about “5 million children in disaster areas are in need of emergency shelter, protection and psychological support.”

Amos noted further that “there is a need to establish safe places for children given that 90 percent of day care centers in ravaged towns and cities were destroyed.”

The “spirit and resilience” of the Filipinos did not escape the observation of the Vatican in Rome.
Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who is in Manila to attend the Catholic Social Media Summit at the Colegio San Juan de Letran, told the reporters:

“We want to express our admiration for the spirit of the Filipino people. We have been seeing terrible devastation but we have also been witnessing the extraordinary cure, consideration and generosity of your own people.”

Everything shall come to pass. Hopefully, the national and local governments have learned their lessons well following the aftermath of the deluge – and will be more prepared and cope with typhoons of similar intensity that are sure to come given the global warming and climate change.

The eastern Visayas will surely rise from its ruins – and there is no stopping it from resurrecting itself from its ashes.
There is however a grim reality that is inescapable – and that is that the thousands of inhabitants of the ravaged Eastern Visayas, are poverty stricken. Their houses or what appears to be houses, are made of cheap and weak construction materials that can be easily blown over by super-typhoons in the like of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) – and torn to pieces.

Rebuilding and reconstructing those inferior structures will not provide their security and safety from the angry forces of nature. And every super-typhoon that comes will repeat the same nightmare of destruction and death.

And such probability and eventuality of extensive destruction in lives and property is not limited to the Eastern Visayas section of our country – but to the entire archipelago as well – as indeed the majority of our countrymen are living in object poverty – and in hand to mouth existence.

No amount of relief goods and rehabilitation work coming from within and without the country, can alter the status in life of these Filipinos. There must be an overhauling of the social structures of our society to effect the even distribution of the nation’s wealth and the means of production.

Hopefully, the gods of destiny will anoint men and women of pure heart and possessed of unselfish love that will cause the radical change of our political and social structure – before the downtrodden masses rise in righteous indignation and revolt and destroy the existing order.
***
For Feedback:
E-mail: salvadorpanelo@rocketmail.com
Facebook: panelosalvador@gmail.com
Twitter: attysalvadorpanelo
Text to: 0918-862- 7777

In the Midst of Tragedy

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by Herman Tiu-Laurel

IN the midst of the tragedy of the 6th category mediocrity and incompetence that is BS Aquino and his government team the volunteerism of many Filipinos gave hope.

Taipan Millan, a young citizen with a group of his peers mobilized members  of civic and business groups like the Rotary Club of Caloocan and companies like Frabelle Fishing Corporation to ship food and relief goods to various parts of Leyte and Samar that were not being reached by the mainstream  foreign and government relief operations getting clogged up on the roads and airports.

Fishing vessels Chrysanthemum and  Brilliant Star leaves Sangley for Tacloban while Woodrose from Navotas goes to Ormoc, Sogod, Tacloban, Biliran, Tanauan and Guian, and Verbena leaves Navotas for Sogod only.

One of our OpinYon writers, Liza Gaspar sought help to locate her Aunt Noemi and family in Brgy. San Isideo, Sta. Fe, Leyte. We’ll ask Frabelle Fishing to radio their ship captains to help in the search when arriving in the different disaster towns.  Others who have need to search for anyone there can text us at our numbers below which we will relay to the ships.

The Spirit of Struggle

As the nation struggles with the crisis in the Visayas other daily struggles continue. The rise in Meralco power rates in November-December due to ill-timed maintenance operations of Malampaya raises the question: “Doesn’t the DoE have an obligation to keep power rates steady and at continuously affordable rates anymore to help people and enterprises maintain predictable overhead cost?” The authorities used to ensure such steady supply to make home and business planning possible by maintaining a balance in the power supply mix.

In the midst of the continuing struggle heroes often go unsung, but this week we will sing our hymns of praise to Mang Naro (Genaro) Lualhati, one of the leaders of LAMP (Lawyers Against Monopoly and Poverty) who in 2003 won the P30-billion refund of the income tax Meralco had been charging to consumers (which it is still doing).
Mang Naro passed away last week at the age of 92 leaving behind his message through his son Antonio, that the struggle for people’s justice against the power plunder of Meralco and its cohorts in the ERC and Congress should be sustained.

Beware of Gift Trojan Horses

While Filipinos have to accept any and all offers of aid and support now, they should also be wise and wary. An Internet blogger reminds us citing, Claro M. Recto “walang libre sa kano” U.S. writer, David Swanson in “Let’s Take Advantage of Suffering Filipinos!” sarcastically headlines a report on a USA Today columnist proposal to “…use the U.S. military to aid those suffering in the Philippines—as a backdoor means of getting the US military back into a larger occupation of the Philippines…. While the Philippines’ representative at the climate talks in Warsaw is fasting in protest of…the earth’s climate”.

Swanson also headlines, “How the US can dress up war as disaster relief to the Philippines”. The U.S. is puffing up its aircraft carriers and military relief role to: 1) justify to Americans massive US military spending and, 2) its pivot to Asia. Deprecating BS Aquino and RP government highlights incompetence to justify U.S. insertion. Meanwhile jet setting Pinoy anthropogenic global warming alarmist Yeb Sano waxes melodramatic using the Leyte tragedy to fast and reinforce false “man-made global warming (GW)” theory. Go to Center for Research on Globalization’s list of funding for the fraud.

The Next Disaster

It’s not “if” but “when” the next natural disaster will strike the Philippines and our families in the line of another super typhoon or an Intensity 9 earthquake. Government should lead in getting every barangay to fabricate heavy equipment at the lowest cost–see Open Source Ecology for free plans on how ordinary people can make hydraulic cranes, forklifts, bulldozers to free people from heavy debris; instead of PhP60 billion CCT going to waste. Learn from Cuba which buses threatened communities by the hundreds of thousands to safe grounds, as in Katrina with only two deaths compared to U.S. 1,800 deaths.

I am not leaving the fate of my children and grandchildren to mediocrities in government or the NGOs. I am buying used car jacks, crowbars ad steel cables for every room my houses my children’s homes. I constantly monitor seismic news and typhoon news. Dusan Zupka of the U.N. International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction opined, “I would dare to say that Cuba is a good example for other countries in terms of preparedness and prevention.” The people’s welfare is top priority for the revolutionary Cuban government, in the Philippine the people is last in priorities.

Final Words

It’s from Peque Gallaga: “We cry desperately for demonstrable government response–we get almost next to nothing. It is increasingly apparent that local media goes hand in hand with self-servicing Malacañang press releases…What our leaders tell us is contradicted by …by the victims in these areas who are slowly able to give us the true picture of the realities of the situation….I read Marvin Xanth Geronimo who was there when Yolanda struck: that TV personalities and politicians like Mar Roxas and Ted Failon going to Tacloban for the photo op. They never helped;… Korina Sanchez calling Anderson Cooper “misinformed”. Cooper was in Tacloban. Korina was not…

“All those people who charge us for criticizing, for being negative, for Aquino bashing – I am done with these people. In a very Yellow Army way, they try to hide behind an illogical argument that we cannot help if we criticize.…. This man (Aquino) who is totally unprepared for the most difficult job in the country.

So my friends, as far as I’m concerned, you choose him or you choose the people. But if you instruct me again to stop bashing this man … I will unfriend you in Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and out in our leaderless streets.” As bad is a business newspaper’s headline lately, “7% growth rate still possible” says rating agencies when Yolanda proves their growth are meaningless to the people.
***
(Catch Herman Tiu Laurel’s weekly show at GNN Destiny Cable Channel 8, Skycable Channel 213, www.gnntv-asia.com Sat., 8 p.m. and replay Sun., 8 a.m.; tune to 1098AM, Tues. to Fri. 5pm; ; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com; and text reactions to 0923-4095739)

Storm Surge

Posted on Updated on

by Raymund L. Junia

I GREW up in the biggest barangay of this small town, Tolosa, Leyte. This barangay, and the town proper, faces the Pacific Ocean. In our side of the country, a typhoon is no stranger. We’re used to typhoons. But this does not mean, we neglect any typhoon’s fury. I find the debate on storm surge  interesting, the term not being understood. One journalist described it as a new phenomenon. Ted Failon, who comes from Leyte, admits he does not understand the meaning of storm surge. That really surprised me.

In my elementary days in the barrio, I remember every time there was a typhoon, we had our own “coast guards”. They took turns in watching the sea level and ready to issue a “bandillo” (public warning) on the rising of the sea level and imminent flooding of the barangay. There being no satellite warning on TV then, this was the method of early warning to prevent deaths from big waves and rising sea levels—a storm surge.

That many lives were spared and saved from Yolanda’s fury in my town, I think this primitive early warning system did it. Although folks way back home say San Miguel saved lives in the middle of Yolanda’s strike. On San Miguel saving the town, I very much agree. Our patron saint had always come to the rescue of this town. Another interesting fact is, until this writing, people in most Yolanda-ravaged areas are still asking where is government?

The dead littered the streets of Tacloban and nearby towns until the sixth day after the typhoon. Relief has not reached barangays and towns just 20 kilometers from Tacloban City. Relief was active only in media but zero at the ground. Media was well managed but not the relief operations. Media was managed not to tell the truth. Malacañang’s problem was that it could not manage foreign media like CNN, ABC news and others. They could not control social media also.

How media was managed could be seen from the reaction of ABS-CBN channel 2 over reports by CNN of absence of government at ground Zero. Korina Sanchez embarrassed herself in her refuting reports by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. She was swarmed in social media by accusations of her impartiality in defense of Pres. Aquino leadership and for lying bare faced on the true situation in Leyte.

Easily, Korina Sanchez stood out as a disgrace to Philippine journalism.

CNN is the new shining example if not the hero in true journalism and Channel 2 lost much of its credibility.

Enough lies please.

THE BATTLE FOR TRUTH : Korina Sanchez vs Anderson Cooper

Posted on Updated on

by the Editors

“SOMEBODY slap Korina Sanchez. Because of her reaction, Anderson had to explain himself for those tweets. He (Cooper) only reported what he saw!” This is just one of the many tweets now flooding social media over the recent exchange between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and local newshen Korina Sanchez concerning the handling of news reports in the wake of super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Cooper was in town as part of CNN’s coverage of typhoon Yolanda. Reporting from Tacloban City on the “difficulties and shortcomings of local relief efforts” Cooper said: “You would expect perhaps to see a feeding center that had been set up five days after the storm. We haven’t seen that not in this area. Some food is being brought to people here at the airport, some water being distributed, but these are very, very difficult conditions for the people here on the ground and it’s not clear how much longer it can continue like this. Something’s got to give.”

A lot of things did break from ground zero: reports of a rising death toll and the tales of frustration and desperation of survivors who have resorted to looting and everything else for the sake of survival and self-preservation. There is death and destruction everywhere and Cooper, like other foreign journalists, were simply reporting events as they saw it unfolding from ground zero.

Quick Defense

But here comes Koring Sanchez with the temerity to hit Cooper for his “erroneous reports”. Korina, wife of Interior and Local Secretary Mar Roxas II and ex-flame of President Noynoy Aquino, was quick to give her rebuttal in defense of Mar and the PNoy administration. In her morning radio show “Rated Korina” aired over AM radio dzMM, Wednesday morning, Nov 13, she had a blind item for her listeners describing a “blonde reporter ng CNN” whom she claims are giving reports that are “mali-mali,”. “Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya (It seems he does not know what he is saying),” Korina added.

While Anderson Cooper is definitely not blonde-haired—it was clear that Korina was referring to the CNN newsman, but she did not have the balls to name Cooper outright. Perhaps this was Korina’s interpretation of extending professional courtesy to a comrade journalist.

The exchange did not end there.

Aside from his report in CNN, Copper also posted several tweets via his account @AC360 describing what he sees in Tacloban, which is one of the most affected areas in the Visayas by typhoon Yolanda. Cooper said that there’s no “real evidence of organized recovery” in the area and that the people in Tacloban “deserve better than what they have gotten.”

Anderson, host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360˚ also tweeted “Everywhere you go you find people searching for their lost loved ones” and “Philippine military personnel are cleaning up the area around the airport.. first time we’re seeing this”. And because of Korina’s reactions, Cooper was forced to clarify and explain his statements
The Anderson-Sanchez tiff stirred different reactions from the netizens, but most were irked by the reactions of Korina and her ill-treatment of a fellow journalist. Many who took Cooper’s side said Korina had no right to question Cooper who was reporting on site while she was dishing out commentary from the comforts of a television studio.

Whether a knee-jerk reaction or acting under instructions from Mar, Korina’s reactions served only to magnify the incompetence of the government in handling the crisis. And, to a greater extent, she has made herself a target of the anger of over half a million Filipinos affected by typhoon Yolanda.

To the typhoon-ravaged, Korina is the liar—a puppet of this government and its ploy of dishing out candy-coated lies.

“Sanchez probably thought that her husband’s directing traffic on the streets of Tacloban could be considered a rescue operation. Thank goodness no one takes her seriously nowadays…especially since she hasn’t even been to the disaster zone,” said one online commentary.

Apparently caving in to the online comments, Korina got on a plane Thursday to report live for ABS-CBN from Ormoc, Leyte. She could have gone to Tacloban to get a full reality check.

Battle for Truth

The Korina Sanchez vs Anderson Cooper affair is just the tip of the ongoing battle for the truth about the real scenario in typhoon ravaged areas. On one side are international journalists reporting on site and on the other are people from Malacanang—including President Aquino—who are giving much rosier updates from a comfortable distance.

While Cooper was reporting from Tacloban City, President Aquino was giving a reassuring report in an interview with Christiane Amapour, aired that very same day also over CNN. Receiving some ambiguous responses from PNoy, Amapour kept his composure and did not press further for proof of progress in the rescue and recovery efforts.

While the President reported that a sense of normalcy has returned to the typhoon-hit areas, Cooper’s live report showing actual footage from the ruins of Tacloban airport painted a far grimmer picture.
It is quite depressing to hear Cooper say that it is not really clear to him who is in charge of the Philippine side of operations as it shows the lack of leadership in a time of crisis. As another reporter from ABC News claims: the Philippine government has become paralized in the face of disaster.

And for a local news anchor like Sanchez to go on the defensive makes matters even stranger for outsiders like Cooper and other foreign observers.

Japan Tsunami

Days after Japan was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami, Cooper and other foreign journalists were also there to report on the ensuing activity after the tragedy.

“When I was in Japan, right after the tsunami there two years ago, within a day or two, you had Japanese defense forces going out, carving up cities into grids and going out on foot looking for people, walking through the wreckage. We have not seen that here in any kind of large-scale operation,” Cooper reported then.
At Villamor Airbase, main staging area of the relief flights to the disaster zone, foreign journalists reported that the base seemed to be “operating at half speed” with no real sense of urgency.

The US Marines have swung into action, as expected. But there are only hundreds of them right now and they must first coordinate with the Philippine government before they can swing into action.

The United Nations and other countries are sending relief through the United Nations Food Programme. With the government involved in the pork barrel scandal, reports say that US Marines escorting the UN relief have been instructed to keep government officials and politicians “from touching the relief goods.”
How low can our image as a people get?

Exposing, yet again, the incompetence of the PNoy administration, the people want somebody to turn to in this hour of great need.

If PNoy fails to meet this latest challenge, it may take more than a Korina Sanchez to save his administration.