Duterte Favors Fighting Troops but Forgets Evacuees
CAMPAIGNING FOR the presidency, then candidate Rodrigo Duterte said, “I’m ready to be your father… I promise you a comfortable life.” His avid followers have taken to call the president “Tatay Digong.” But the paternal figure he is as chief executive has shown undue favoritism for some of his children. The Marawi conflict has placed numerous Filipinos in harm’s way: soldiers in the war zone and civilians in evacuation centers, homeless and hungry.
CMFR cheers MindaNews for calling out the pointed disparity in President Duterte’s war-time visits, highlighting the frequency of his stopovers to the ground troops and the rare appearance he has made among displaced communities. He has spent hours talking to fighting men and women and promising them and their families compensation for their hardship or their loss. But visiting the bakwits (evacuees) has not been much on his agenda.
MindaNews recalled that the president has made only one visit to the bakwits, on June 20, as opposed to the five visits to troops on July 20, August 4 and 24, and September 11 and 20. (“Duterte’s war-time visits: Five times in Marawi for troops; only once for ‘bakwits’”)
President Duterte made his sixth visit to Marawi on October 2. But while he witnessed the turnover of temporary shelters for the displaced residents, he only met with the military and local government officials.
The report also reviewed the failed deadlines made for the conclusion of the war in Marawi, noting the repeated promises of Duterte that the military is “winding up” amid efforts to take down enemy hold-outs or rescue hostages.
The conflict in Marawi has dragged on longer than expected, making it easier for the public to be distracted from the shortcomings of government in addressing both the threat of the terrorists and the needs of displaced communities.
While the troops deserve support, media must not forget to call out any deficiencies or lapses of the government and its officials—including the president. MindaNews is right to remind Duterte that it is not only the soldiers who are suffering and in need of a morale boost. He must show as much attention to the people of Marawi who have lost their city and the lives as they knew it before the war began.