Duterte hits back at critics over absence during Rolly's wrath

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday responded to criticism that he was nowhere to be seen over the weekend when the world's strongest storm this 2020 was battering parts of the country that had left millions affected and 16 people dead so far. 

Duterte was in his hometown Davao City for the Undas weekend, which coincided with the scheduled landfall of then Super Typhoon 'Rolly' over parts of Bicol region and Catanduanes. 

His absence at a time of an ongoing crisis did not sit well with many on social media, especially when Cabinet and disaster officials held a briefing hours after Rolly hit Catanduanes and Albay with Duterte not in sight. 

"Itong mga ugok naman sinasabing wala ako [but] I was just waiting for the typhoon to pass," the President said in a meeting with officials that stretched on for hours. "Kung wala kayong patay, okay lang. Kaming mayroon, kailangan umuwi kami doon sa amin."

(These stupid ones are saying I wasn't there, but I was just waiting for the typhoon to pass. If you don't have any dead relatives then  good for you. But those who have like us, we have to go home.) 

Rolly entered the Philippines by October 29, with weather agencies abroad making early warnings that it may soon develop into a super typhoon. 

Weather agencies abroad have warned as early as October 29, when Rolly entered the Philippines, that it may soon develop into a super typhoon, raising fears that a repeat of the catastrophic Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 may happen. 

"Ang mga papeles pinadala niyo tapos pirmahan ko at ipadala ulit. Do you want me to stand doon sa white sand ni Roy Cimatu just to show that I am here?" Duterte added. 

(The papers that needed to be signed were sent and I returned them. Do you want me to stand at DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu's white sand to show that I am here?) 

Questions on Duterte's whereabouts originated from a Twitter hashtag "NasaanAngPangulo" that trended on the platform amid Rolly's onslaught. Those who came to the defense of the President held a similar reasoning with him — that being there wouldn't stop the storm. 

But critics have since said such logic sorely missed the point: that leadership demanded presence, especially for a president who had remarked that a true leader is someone who always "stays where the crisis is."

"To ask #NasaanAngPangulo is not to demand the impossible that he stop Rolly," said lawyer Florin Hilbay, a former solicitor general and senatorial bet. "It's to ask: where's the highest official of the country being battered by the strongest typhoon of the year?" 

"In a time of crisis, presence is a sign of leadership. Absence is abandonment of duty," he added.

The president on Monday afternoon held an aerial inspection of the extent of Rolly's damage as well as visited typhoon victims in Guinobatan in Albay. 

His arrival came when Vice President Leni Robredo also paid a visit to areas hit by the super typhoon in Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes. Robredo, leaving Manila before dawn, distributed relief goods as well to victims. 

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar in the same briefing said that the initial estimate of damage brought by Rolly is at P5.6 billion.

The super typhoon has left many in evacuation sites as hundreds of thousands fled as a precaution, and over two million have also been reportedly affected by Rolly.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 18, 2020 - 4:45pm

Follow this thread for updates on tropical cyclone Rolly (international name: Goni).

November 18, 2020 - 4:45pm

Australia provides an additional P28.52 million to support Filipino communities affected by tropical cyclone Rolly in the Bicol Region.

This will help the government provide food, repair damaged homes and support emergency medical teams in the region. Australia's latest commitment will directly assist 23,345 people, including 2,990 women and girls.

"This support is even more critical following Typhoon Ulysses that caused further hardship for the people in the Bicol Region. Australia stands with the Philippines in this time of need," Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson says.

November 9, 2020 - 5:49pm

President Rodrigo Duterte may place the regions of CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol under state of calamity because of the impact of typhoon "Rolly," Malacañang says.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has approved a recommendation to place the three Luzon regions under state of calamity to fast-track the recovery of the typhoon-ravaged areas.

"Most likely, but let us wait for the document that will come from the Office of the President," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing when asked if Duterte would adopt the recommendation of the council. — Alexis Romero

November 2, 2020 - 7:26pm

The provincial board has placed Camarines Sur under state of calamity following the onslaught of Typhoon Rolly.

In a resolution released Monday, the local government cited strong winds and torrential rains, as well as the extensive flooding and other damages brought about by the typhoon.

November 2, 2020 - 5:25pm

At 3 p.m., Tropical Storm Rolly was located 225 kilometers west of Iba, Zambales.

The cyclone bears maximum sustained winds of 65 kph and gusts of up to 80 kph. It is moving north northwestward at 15 kph.

November 2, 2020 - 3:00pm

Vice President Leni Robredo posts photos of the first signs of devastation brought about by Typhoon Rolly in Camarines Sur.

Robredo says she left Manila before dawn on Monday to visit the typhoon-hit province.

The vice president will also be visiting Albay and Catanduanes.

Left Manila before dawn today. Just arrived CamSur and these were the first signs of devastation we saw. Will be going around Albay and Catanduanes, as well.

Posted by Leni Gerona Robredo on Sunday, 1 November 2020
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