As homes, neighborhoods get flooded, Filipinos ask ‘nasaan ang pangulo?’

August 13, 2018 - 2:43 PM
Residents wash chairs next to a submerged vehicle after flashfloods brought by continous monsoon rains in Marikina, Metro Manila, in Philippines Aug. 12, 2018. (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

Filipinos on social media sought the whereabouts of President Rodrigo Duterte through the viral hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo, amid torrential rains and massive flooding over the weekend.

The president may not be conducting visits or making appearances, but his aide, Secretary Bong Go, claimed that Duterte is closely monitoring the situation.

Go said Duterte was in Davao city when heavy rains brought by the southwest monsoon or habagat started in Luzon last Saturday. He returned to the Palace in Manila the next day.

Where is the captain of a sinking ship?

The president, Go said, had planned to conduct an aerial survey to determine the severity of the floods. But this is not pushing through, the Palace announced on Monday.

The Palace said, however, that the president did not return to his home in Davao City, which was his routine every weekend. Duterte regularly flies back to his hometown on weekends despite maintaining his residence at Malacañan Palace. Critics have slammed the excessive trips for the septuagenarian head of government, who maintained that his fare is not shouldered by Filipino taxpayers.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said that Duterte stayed at Malacañan’s Bahay Pagbabago to monitor the thousands affected by the weeks-long rains.

‘Tragedies require presence’

Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said that it is the right of every citizen to seek the leader during big natural calamities.

“Tragedies require presence. That’s a minimum requirement of leadership,” Hilbay shared on Twitter.

Journalist Inday Espina Verona also emphasized that it’s a “boost in morale” to see the president act in times of crisis.

“Nobody expects Presidents to do the rounds, giving out water bottles (oh, wait, they’ve done that). But it does boost morale to see them exercise leadership during crises,” Verona posted.

There are those who said that Duterte does his work even without the presence of the media.

Others reacted that the local authorities and disaster agencies are already on the ground helping the Filipinos on behalf of the Duterte.

As of writing, a total of 30,822 people were displaced in evacuation centers in Metro Manila.