Embattled Philippine President Aquino Faces Parade of Horribles
By David de Los Angeles for Free News Release.Us
Corruption, invasion, earthquake and a super typhoon test Presidential willpower.
For the past 2 years the people of the Philippines have been obsessed with the arrest of former President Gloria Arroyo who along with the First Husband was charged with plunder by Aquino administration anti-corruption investigators.
This scandal of immense national significance was followed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court resigning under fire under similar charges.
Now – a score of existing and former members of the House and Senate find themselves facing charges in another scandal known as Pork Barrel. All of which out-ranked the daytime soap operas as everyone from taxi drivers to housewives and business people tuned in to see which politician’s dirty dancing would featured on prime-time TV next.
Next – even as the President was sparring with China over sovereignty of offshore territories Aquino was finalizing negotiations to end a 40-year conflict with Muslim separatists. The MNLF – a minority participant in the negotiations (Muslim Communist revolutionaries) backed out and invaded towns in Mindanao the country’s 3rd largest island.
It was sort of a Mouse That Roared movie in 3-D but with real bullets and without the popcorn. The insurgents were only 200 strong but they made quite a nuisance of themselves.
President Aquino’s boots were on the ground often during the conflict as he conferred with military staff, troops and a frightened local populace. After 3 weeks of fighting the insurrection was history. During the conflict, many 1,000’s of locals were temporarily relocated, protected and provided for by the government.
Then – with the smoke from the battle still rising from the ashes of homes and businesses caught up in the turmoil, a 7.2 earthquake devastated nearby Cebu Island and surrounding provinces. National architectural treasures over 300 years old along with many newer buildings, 1,000’s of houses and infrastructure were destroyed.
Finally – Relief for those areas devastated by the earthquake was barely underway when typhoon Yolanda hit displacing over 4 million people and directly affecting over 10 million. These disasters overlapped boundaries in many areas so some communities faced Armageddon more than once in a matter of weeks.
Let me put it all in perspective from an American’s point-of-view. Imagine if in the USA – everyplace west of the Rockies was made uninhabitable virtually overnight. Farms, churches, schools, businesses, government buildings, banks, hospitals, roads, power plants and homes all destroyed. Everyone from Colorado to California having just the shirts on their backs and no food, shelter or potable water or electricity.
I had been in Manila for over 2 years and was impressed with the solidarity, good heart and strength of the Philippine people in the face of incredible challenges. They pull together. But to those critics of President Aquino’s administration for not having being prepared for disasters – I answer that it is doubtful if any mortal being or government could deal with 4 million people who overnight became refugees completely dependent on the government.
95% of local government workers in the affected areas are out of action having themselves lost their homes, family members or their lives. Fire, police, medical facilities and personnel and every structure are gone but for foundations in many communities. Many roads connecting communities were either destroyed by the earthquake or washed out by the typhoon. The only way to get aid in is by sea or airlift.
That 4 million plus people are displaced, towns wiped off the map, and over 5,500 dead plus 1,600 missing should not be grounds for criticizing the government for lack of preparedness, but rather the reverse given the big picture involving a super typhoon, an abundance of poorly built structures, and a populace used to 25 to 35 lesser strength typhoons that hit the region annually.
The country had never experienced a Hurricane Katrina – a category 5 storm that devastated New Orleans in the US years ago. Given that the Philippines is a democracy and evacuations are not mandatory as in some totalitarian countries – many chose to remain behind despite warnings.
But many critics being what they are by nature; would not be satisfied even if the number of dead were only one. Mayor Alfredo Arquillano of the Cebu Island Tulang Diyot having attended emergency planning meetings took the Yolanda threat seriously and evacuated the entire community of 1,000 residents from the island. Foundations now remain where structures once stood. All souls were saved. The mayor heard the government warnings, he listened and motivated his constituents to pack up and get out of harm’s way. He was doing his job as mayor.
Philippine President Aquino came into power with the same populist mandate that was given to his mother former President Corazon Aquino – ‘End corruption, grow the economy, create jobs and help the poor.’ During Aquino’s administration the Philippine economy has had the fastest growth rate in Asia surpassing China.
International Corporate investment is pouring in. Over a score of high-rises are under construction in downtown Manila along with new hotels, malls, resort and gaming venues. Philippine manufacturing, agriculture and service industries are growing. And much of the progress is attributed to the government’s new policies of openness, a new pro-business attitude and an anti-corruption campaign.
This president has much on his shoulders and he shoulders it well. His calmness and steadfastness gives his countrymen the heart and confidence they need to hang on in the face of these heartbreaking events. The Philippines next major crisis may be finding another man-for-all-seasons when Aquino’s term is up.
Writer David de Los Angeles writes for Free News Release.Us. at www.freenewsrelease.us He is from Portland Oregon and writes on healthcare tourism and business. He may be reached at: http://firstname.lastname@example.org www.angelswrote.wordpress.com
Tags: Philippine President Aquino, Typhoon Yolanda update, MNLF, Cebu earthquake, Bohol earthquake, China territorial dispute,