Taal Volcano is on high alert. Does Duterte even care?

A country's leader is expected to show up and help people in times of need


A country’s leader is expected to show up and help people in times of need. When the bushfires in Australia started spreading, citizens criticized Prime Minister Scott Morrison for not being in the country to offer assistance. This is the same situation Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is in because of his delayed action after the Taal Volcano eruption.

The volcano erupted on Sunday, Jan. 12, which caused ashfall in Batangas, Tagaytay, Cavite, Metro Manila, and some parts of northern Luzon. Duterte was back home in Davao when it happened and was unable to fly back to Manila because flights were cancelled. Duterte arrived in Manila the next morning, Jan. 13, with his aide, Sen. Bong Go.

The senator even shared selfies while they were on a private plane while allegedly doing an aerial inspection to assess the damage caused by the eruption. (Some netizens pointed out that Go’s photos were taken while the plane was on the tarmac. If that’s true, then yikes.) Go added that Duterte was also in touch with various government agencies and giving them orders to address the needs of those affected by the eruption.

Okay, that’s understandable. But what we don’t understand is why Duterte prioritized his visit to the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) and gave away P50,000 to soldiers who were celebrating their birthdays on Jan. 13.

After the event, reporters asked Duterte in an ambush interview if he was going to the affected areas in Batangas. He said he was going to ride a helicopter because the volcanic ash might pose serious harm to his health. He later boasted that he’s going to eat the poisonous volcanic ash and pee on the Taal Volcano.

Despite health concerns, Duterte (finally) visited areas hit by the Taal eruption on Tuesday, Jan. 14—two days after the incident. The president apologized to the victims, explaining that he tried to leave Davao on Sunday night but the thick ashfall prevented him from flying out. He didn’t address the fact that he went to PMC first when he arrived in Metro Manila.

While Duterte was in Batangas, he told reporters that he’d forgotten the problems happening in the area after seeing all the beautiful women. After visiting the victims, Duterte acted like nothing was wrong in his country and decided to ride motorcycles in the Malacañang Palace’s compound.


Several netizens, especially the ones affected by the Taal eruption, are understandably pissed off by Duterte’s actions the past few days. He didn’t visit the victims immediately, trivialized the situation by focusing on the beautiful women like the misogynist he is, and then decided to ride a motorcycle for fun. Sure, Duterte has been ordering government agencies to respond to the victims’ needs, but it’s pretty insensitive to act like he doesn’t have a responsibility to his constituents.

Good thing Duterte didn’t show up at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) 50th anniversary dinner in honor of Imelda Marcos. Which, by the way, was also tone-deaf. Who hosts a lavish party while thousands of people are sleeping in evacuation centers and Taal Volcano is still on Alert Level 4?

Of course, Duterte supporters continue to defend the president and villainize people like Vice President Leni Robredo, who also visited Batangas and offered assistance to victims. Take note that Robredo has been reminding citizens to remain vigilant while the volcano is still on high alert, and telling local government units to set up animal evacuation centers.

Yet, Robredo is the one being criticized for allegedly helping people for show and the Mocha Uson Blog even accused her of only giving out five pieces of pandesal and one bottle of water. At least Robredo showed up and actually did something like many others who are pitching in to help their countrymen.

If you ask us, Duterte supporters are applauding the president for doing the bare minimum, which includes giving orders, showing up, and trying to make people laugh with his crass jokes. We’re willing to bet these are the same people criticizing Robredo for simply doing her job as a leader. Misogyny is definitely rearing its ugly head here.

We expect more from Pres. Duterte during this challenging time for people in Batangas and nearby areas. If he was truly concerned for their well-being, he wouldn’t be so lax and insensitive about what’s happening.


Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

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