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Sad story told

Honestly, it’s an honor to be there and to be able to give voice to people who don’t have a voice, who don’t have access to power and to be able to tell that woman’s story.

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Critics stirred a commotion in the response to the pandemic of the Duterte administration, describing this as being not enough.

The flak has been reoriented into a Senate probe on the alleged overpriced medical supply purchases, which has resulted to similar assaults on the administration. This makes it noteworthy to recollect how the previous administration stood up to an emergency situation.

Most of those critical of President Rodrigo Duterte are supporters of the Aquino regime and are now moving heaven and earth to return to power.

In a 2013 interview, David Letterman asked his show’s guest CNN anchor Anderson Cooper about his experience of being among the first newsmen in Tacloban City after super typhoon “Yolanda” decimated the commercial center of the Visayas region. It elicited from him that what he encountered was “horrific.”

Cooper related how he accompanied a Filipina mother who lost three of her children to the storm and saw her pile up their bodies and sleep with the cadavers for nearly a week. At that time, confusion had ensued in the approach of the government to the tragedy that reflected in the absence of any discernible assistance.

Cooper told Letterman he was not aware of the presence of any government help for nearly a week after the biggest storm that hit the planet descended on Leyte.

“Honestly, it’s an honor to be there and to be able to give voice to people who don’t have a voice, who don’t have access to power and to be able to tell that woman’s story,” he told Letterman.

As a backdrop, officials of the Aquino administration then cited the difficulty of moving about in the city that was devastated by “Yolanda,” saying moving equipment was needed to clear the roads.

The biggest obstacle that emerged then, however, was the political jockeying that happened amid the crisis, in which then Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas asked Mayor Alfred Romualdez to step down on the premise that government assistance would start flowing only after he gave way to Roxas.

“Remember you are a Romualdez, and the President is an Aquino” was the classic line of Roxas in a meeting with Tacloban City executives at that time.

Cooper narrated the dismal situation in which the previous government fell into a lethargy as a result of the calamity. “You hope you learn something new with each event and relief workers do learn stuff. It’s easy for reporters to come in and be critical because it’s never gonna be fast enough, the relief,” he noted.

Nonetheless, Cooper expressed failed expectations. “That said, if you know the biggest storm ever to hit is going to hit, the Philippine government talked about prepositioning supplies. Clearly, whatever supplies they prepositioned was not enough because nobody had food and nobody had water,” he noted

“Bad things happen all around the world, but there’s nothing sadder than a person who lived a good and decent life whose family ends up dying on the side of the road, dissolving into nothing, and nobody even notices their passing and nobody, an authority, helps in the search for them and nobody tells their story,” Cooper added.

Cooper concluded by explaining to Letterman, “I don’t believe it changes much, but I do believe in the power of just honoring those who have passed, learning their names, learning who they are and the life they lived.”

“Horrific, among the worst I’ve seen,” was Cooper’s description apparently of not only what he saw, but was also in reference to the gross neglect and inefficiency of the government’s response to the sudden tragedy.

“Yolanda” claimed an unprecedented number of casualties, the count for which the Aquino administration, in an indirect manner, ordered the disaster and relief agency to fix at 4,000, but independent counts placed the real number at 10,000 or more.

Many died days after the typhoon as a result of injuries they sustained as there was no one in government to care for them.

The situation then being termed as horrific was an understatement.

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