TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - January 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Rappler has posted a photo of Leni Robredo distributing "lugaw" and "pan de sal" to Taal eruption victims in Batangas. An unbridled fan of Leni, Rappler led off the title with "Take that, you trolls," in reference to the troll attack on her that was triggered apparently by blogger Mocha Uson's dig at an earlier aid distribution by the vice president that consisted mainly of "pan de sal" and bottles of water.

The photo shows a beaming Leni holding up a sign that said "Lugaw Leni." I will not question the sincerity of the vice president in giving aid to the victims. With so many lives broken and disrupted, now is certainly not the time to question motives nor disparage relief efforts, no matter how small or inconsequential in face of such dire need.

If it is just "pan de sal" and water then it is just "pan de sal" and water, which is a whole lot better than just the water during the time of Noynoy after Yolanda when he gave water to victims of the typhoon, plus the snide remarks of his interior secretary about clashing political families getting in the way of relief efforts.

But if Leni embarked on this new relief effort with a mind to spite Mocha and pro-administration trolls, then the effort clearly backfired. And it is not because she was "merely" giving away "lugaw" and "pan de sal" as people in need will take anything that is free. Maybe it was the palpable air at the distribution that made the mood so disjointed.

As they say, pictures do not lie, unless, of course, they had been doctored or as they are called nowadays, photoshopped. But there is no way that Rappler would doctor a photo that is meant to be flattering and politically beneficial to Leni. What the photo Rappler posted was what it was --a happily beaming vice president and a somber-looking group of victims around her, all seemingly unamused by what is going on.

I am not kidding. The picture is out there. People can draw their own conclusions and interpretations from what they see. In the picture, I can see no one else broadly smiling except the vice president. All the others in the picture, including one woman taking a photo, seem to be struggling to make sense of what was going on.

It would seem to me as if somebody was trying to cash in on the moment but it certainly was not the victims. As the picture suggests, there was no pushing or jostling for position, as normally attends aid distribution. There was only a total lack of eagerness and enthusiasm. Except for the smile of Leni, the scene was as dead as a door nail.

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ERRATUM. In my previous column entitled "If I were Bongbong," It was mentioned that 2020 would be an election year. There is no election scheduled in for this year.

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