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.
He's probably doing his job as a President. For sure ngayon, kumikilos na sila para matulungan yung mga nangangailangan. You know? Our president doing his job in front and without the camera 🙂
— nebraska (@lhexplicit_) August 11, 2018
Others reacted that the local authorities and disaster agencies are already on the ground helping the Filipinos on behalf of the Duterte.
The barangay, city council, office of the vice mayor, office of the mayor is under the Executive Branch headed by the President. The NDRRMC, PAGASA, MMDA is also a council/department ultimately under the President. They are working right? SO there is our President. #Habagat2018
— Billy (@PalaboyNaBata) August 12, 2018
As of writing, a total of 30,822 people were displaced in evacuation centers in Metro Manila.