President Duterte’s allies in the House of Representatives have decried the supposedly politically charged attacks against the administration in connection with the destructive effects of successive typhoons that struck the country.
At the same time, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas and San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan Rep. Florida Robes called on social media commenters and Filipinos as a whole to set aside politics for now as the government races to respond to those who need assistance.
“There is always room for constructive criticism, but it is obvious that most of these comments (on social media) are motivated by politics,” said Vargas, a vice chairman of the Committee on Public Information.
“During times of calamities, it would be best for all of us to set aside whatever political differences we have and help those in need,” said the third-term congressman.
“Maraming kababayan natin ang nasalanta ng bagyo. Unahin natin sila, huwag ang pulitika. In the end, Pilipino tayong lahat. Magtulungan na lang tayo imbis na mag-away (The typhoon adversely affected many of our countrymen. Let’s prioritize them, not politics. In the end, we are all Filipinos. Let’s help each other instead of quarreling),” Vargas said.
On the other hand, People’s Participation Committee Chairperson Robes described some netizens’ reactions post-typhoon as “deeply disheartening.” She said some people have used the current problems “to criticize and advance their own political and personal interests.”
“Our difficulties are enormous, our challenges are unprecedented. Many of our countrymen need urgent help. They need our support and assistance at this time,” she said.
“Now is not the time to make condemnation. Now is the time to act and do whatever we can to help our distressed countrymen. Let us take the best road for our countrymen. Let us step up to help our fellow Filipinos in need,” Robes said in her appeal.
In just a span of a few days, the Philippines played as the unfortunate host to strong typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses.” Rolly battered provinces in the Bicol region, leaving Catanduanes in a state of calamity.
On the other hand, Ulysses made a beeline toward Metro Manila, triggering floods that were likened to those made by “Ondoy” in 2019. What worse is the subsequent decision of some government agencies to discharge from several dams, which left Marikina City and Cagayan Valley under massive deluge of water.
The events gave rise to the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo, which some netizens used to criticize the Duterte administration’s response, or lack thereof, to these problems.
Being the troll-infested space that social media is, the past few days also saw the inevitable comparisons between how President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo addressed the typhoons’ aftermath.