Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque today blamed unnamed opposition politicians for orchestrating the viral #NasaanAngPangulo (“Where is the president?”) hashtag, which flooded online shortly after Typhoon Vamco unleashed its wrath on various parts of the Philippines.
Roque said in a briefing with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) that people shouldn’t be looking for President Rodrigo Duterte amidst the tragedy, which has claimed at least 39 victims according to army chief Gilbert Gapay.
“You shouldn’t ask where the president is. The president is monitoring [the situation] this time [using] technology; he could already know what is happening in different parts of the Philippines. We’ve already shown here at the operating center of the NDRRMC that he doesn’t have to travel all over the country to places that were affected by the tragedy. We have ways of monitoring what has happened in different places in the Philippines,” Roque said in English and Filipino.
“You shouldn’t wonder where the president is. That’s something orchestrated by the opposition. The president is never gone; he is always with us. He is always thinking of what is best for our countrymen,” he said.
Roque said that the opposition Liberal Party should stop because Vamco has claimed fewer lives than other typhoons in previous administrations. He also said that there was no need for Duterte to oversee the NDRRMC briefing, something which the president used to do in the early years of his term.
“All the members of the NDRRMC cabinet clusters are alter egos of the resident, and it’s the ASEAN Summit right now. That’s the problem with this typhoon. It coincided with the ASEAN Summit, and the president has to fulfill his role as the chief architect of our foreign policy,” he said.
Duterte was in the midst of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit (ASEAN) when Vamco struck, leaving Filipinos begging for help when floodwaters rose. After #NasaanAngPangulo went viral, he delivered a nationally broadcast speech in between ASEAN Summit events to explain that his bodyguards and doctors have forbidden him from traveling to meet typhoon victims because doing so would put him in harm’s way.
However, shortly after the speech, he conducted an aerial inspection of Marikina City and Rizal, which have been adversely affected by the typhoon.
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