Friday, November 15, 2013

Cooper-gate




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So. Anderson Cooper. Korina Sanchez. Mar Roxas. And Noynoy Aquino. These are the stars of the current drama unfolding in the continuing saga of the Typhoon Yolanda relief efforts. And it isn’t a pretty chapter.

cooper

No, not that Cooper.

On the one hand, Anderson Cooper isn’t exactly the standard bearer of impeccable journalism the world over. I will trust him as far as I can throw a pebble, and that’s not very far at all. There have been allegations—allegations!—that he didn’t do his report justice by not venturing far from his security hut (I’m too lazy to actually search for the article for the actual term), and only painted a picture of the immediate vicinity.

Unparalleled journalism!

Pinoys, of course, are so easy to soak up on his shenanigans on TV because, oh my God, he’s THE Anderson Cooper! From CNN, of all places! That gives him a boatload of credibility, and makes him the bulwark of investigative journalism, especially in field reportage!

It isn’t, of course, the clothes that make the man, but the credibility of his report. And while I have yet to read / watch his full report, isn’t giving full-hearted support for Anderson Cooper just because of who he was, and where he came from, a little bit silly?

But then again, he’s from that CNN! International!

Just delicious!

However! He did manage to paint a pretty accurate picture of how things are on the ground where he was: the fact that there’s a lack of proper direction in the relief efforts. It doesn’t hurt that there are fringe reports of relief efforts stymied by the inefficiency of the local government, and their lack of managerial gusto.

Of course, the guy behind the wheel is none other than the president himself, with the aid of his cabinet members.

Now, one of the cabinet members happens to be Mar Roxas. Mar, the former presidentiable, vice-presidentiable, and now the former head of various departments before settling into the Department of Interior and Local Government. He was in Leyte when the storm hit, and could technically be counted as one of the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. What a lucky man! Not only did he survive the onslaught of the storm, he was also one of the people of the government who was “on the ground” since day one.

Talk about public service!

Of course, the Anderson Cooper coverage didn’t really ride well with what the government had to say about the relief ops. Which wasn’t really anything new, considering our government: progress was slow, but there was progress, says the president, and so do his cabinet members echo. But the ever-diligent wife of Secretary Roxas, one Ms. Korina Sanchez of ABS-CBN news, lashed back at Cooper.

Could it be that she actually believed in the competence of the national government? Could be!

Or is she defending her husband? After all, Cooper’s report was on CNN. So was Christina Amanpour’s interview of the president, her husband’s immediate boss. Somebody had to defend the government.

Could be!

But! The government’s defense was that a casualty of this magnitude was unheard of in the Philippine islands, despite being a region battered by around twenty storms a year. That’s a safe number. That’s the number of storms we get if we’re having an off season. If we’re lucky, we’ll just get a bunch of thunderstorms, and get off scot-free.

But this wasn’t us being lucky. This was us being at our most unluckiest. And the fact is, logistics IS going to be hard for relief operations for a region as water-locked as the Visayas.

Or is it? Within two days of the gigantic earthquake, Japan had, according to Cooper, divided the devastated areas into grids, and they had a proper operation going. Four days after Typhoon Yolanda hit the country, and the Aquino government finally has a plan that isn’t guaranteed to work since this was the first time they were going to try something of this magnitude.

There’s always beginner’s luck, I guess! But at a time like this, swift decisions save lives, and so far, we haven’t seen anything of the sort from the government. And their supporters are asking us to keep our thoughts to ourselves, and just help.

Nothing wrong with that! I’m all for helping!

But if the problem is really the logistical nightmare that is coordinating all of the donations into a workable supply chain, then they need to do something about it. If they are truly having trouble with transferring and distributing the goods, then stop with the reassuring acts and go out and say so. Honesty is the best policy, in this situation, and the more they try to sugarcoat it, the worse it will be for them when the truth comes out.

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