Super typhoon Haiyan has effectively roused to action not only the Filipinos, but the rest of the world as well. Since the monster typhoon wrecked the central region of the Philippines on Friday, many citizens have been asking why the government isn’t doing more. As it turned out, there are politicians who have been doing a lot more to help, such as branding donations with their names.
Amid the harrowing images and horrific tales that the world has seen and heard from the affected Philippine provinces, there are still those who see the tragedy as an opportunity to further their personal agenda, according to some outraged citizens.
Filipinos turn to their social media accounts to unleash their rage at politicians who they think are taking advantage of the situation, including the country’s own vice president, Jejomar Binay.
A photo circulating online shows the VP taking a photo op with a number of people, including his daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, while distributing relief goods. Another photo focuses on his donations wrapped in white plastic bags with his name and his VP seal plastered on each.
Actress Sharon Cuneta, whose husband Francis Pangilinan was a senator in the country, also took to Twitter to report another circulating photo showing relief goods packed in blue bags printed with Mr Binay’s name and logo.
— Sharon Cuneta (@sharon_cuneta12) November 14, 2013
Filipino citizens were aghast at the act, accusing Mr Binay of exploiting Yolanda victims for his own gain. Mr Binay has been fairly silent ever since the whole Haiyan episode began, perhaps preferring other politicians to be interviewed by the media. He has issued a statement on Sunday, though, calling the super typhoon a “national tragedy” and asking everyone to help out.
“There will be time to determine what went wrong, but at this moment our urgent task is to extend much needed help to the survivors and restore vital public services.”
He flew to Mindoro to assess for himself the damage that the typhoon has caused, prompting other Filipinos to think that he was a man of action and not words.
But with the photos of his shameless self-promotion going viral, Filipino citizens have since backtracked on the praise. People are now calling the politician of being “epal,” a local word that largely means attention-seeker.
Is it just me, or does the "photo op of a politiko giving relief goods with his name on the plastic bags" leave a bad taste in the mouth? — Lea Salonga (@MsLeaSalonga) November 15, 2013
— Mel van der Wal (@ihateposh) November 15, 2013
There are Filipinos who chose to give Mr Binay the benefit of the doubt, though. Some think that the photos were just black propaganda started by political rivals to discredit the vice president.
Meanwhile, the practice of repacking goods isn’t really new in the country. It has been observed repeatedly by vigilant citizens during election periods and disaster relief operations.
And if help is coming far too slow to the victims of Haiyan, reports claim that it’s because of how the donations are being distributed.
— Ping Medina (@PingMedina) November 13, 2013
Perhaps this is why the U.S. marines were reportedly instructed not to let government officials and politicians in the Philippines touch the relief goods from the United Nations that are to be distributed for the victim of Haiyan.