Sunday, October 04, 2009

Prominent blogger slings mud at Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon at height of relief operations

A volunteer in the relief operations of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) bad mouthed Philippine National Red Cross Chairman  (PNRC) and Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon for simply being told by a PNRC staffer to wait.

The Ayala Land Inc.employee posted a note on Facebook relating his account with obvious expletives and here are some of the things that this Ayala Land Inc employee said:
"DICK MOTHER(*@#$!%^) GORDON DID NOT SHOW UP. He wanted this obviously to be a POLITICAL event for him and then decided that maybe it wasn’t worth showing up for after all."

"I can’t believe that a time like this when ORDINARY people are coming together, POLITICIANS REMAIN THE SAME…AND I can only PRAY MR. GORDON that you be granted some sort of WISDOM (OR BALLS) to DECIDE WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO. Don’t go on making PROTOCOLS that are STUPID AND INANE especially in times like this….people have lost their loved ones, their houses, basically everything they have and you still have the GALL to use this to YOUR Advantage."
This volunteer is Martin Cervantes.  A copy of that same note posted on Facebook appears on another blog, which some believe also belongs to Cervantes.  You can see it here.

While obviously intended to vent his frustration to his friends on Facebook, Cervantes' note reached renowned Filipino Blogger and show host of ANC's The Explainer, Manuel Quezon III -- who is a well known supporter of Senator Noynoy Aquino, a Presidential candidate.  The renowned Filipino blogger, whose mother is or was a governor of the Philippine National Red Cross, re-posted Cervantes' note and in doing so, caused the note to spread all over the internet.

Quezon III, who has an extreme dislike for Senator Richard Gordon, at one time even erroneously blogged that Gordon had left of the United States with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the height of typhoon Frank last year.  Even when it was obvious that Gordon had stayed behind in the Philippines so that he can direct relief efforts of the Philippine National Red Cross in the provinces that were worst hit by Typhoon Frank, Quezon III did not correct his blog entry.

Along with Cervantes' note which he re-posted or shared and subsequently deleted, he also posted or shared a status update which also lambastes Gordon.  It seems it is from another person who I suspect was at the same event as Cervantes.

It is quite apparent that Quezon III used this obviously impassioned status update to get people mad at Gordon.  His bias against Gordon shows up in subsequent comments.

Then, perhaps in a bid to say that whatever the Philippine National Red Cross is right now, it cannot be attributed to Senator Richard Gordon's work to modernize the oldest humanitarian organization in the Philippines.  One account that I had heard is that Manolo's mother actually belonged to the faction that goaded Senator Gordon to run for the Chairmanship of the PNRC.  When they were at the helm of the ruling faction, the PNRC was known ONLY for its blood services.  It did not have disaster response capabilities, such as it has right now.  Gordon actually had to fight against some people in the PNRC in order for this to happen and I wouldn't be surprised if Manolo's mother had been among those who went against  the modernization of the Philippine National Red Cross -- out of sheer spite.

What weighed more on Manuel Quezon III's mind was the chance to hit Gordon, it was merely an afterthought to consider the impact of this one-sided distorted account on the morale of the Philippine National Red Cross workers who were working at various evacuation centers.

I think slinging dirt at Gordon at a time of national crisis is utterly disgusting and revolting, more so if it is at all done to make Quezon III's favored Presidential Candidate look purer and more immaculate therefore more winnable.  Especially at at time when Noynoy is being portrayed as the white knight in a battle between good and evil.

I would have been happy to learn about Senator Noynoy Aquino's own action at this time of crisis in his clan's hometown in Tarlac.  I would have been happy to learn about Senator Mar Roxas own action at this time of crisis in his hometown and district in Capiz.  I would have been happy if Senator Chiz Escudero was also doing something for his home district in Sorsogon.

At my group blog, Dona Victorina, a reposted article by Efren Danao tells what Noynoy was doing while his people were suffering.
"News reports said that Sen. Noynoy Aquino and former President Joseph Estrada talked Sunday evening on fielding a common presidential candidate. Tell me that the reports are wrong, Senator Noynoy. How could you talk politics while Luzon was reeling from the devastation wrought by Typhoon Ondoy? I have always thought of you as somebody who could bring fresh air to the polluted Philippine politics. I have been among those who believed that you would always put public service above politics.

Was I wrong?

If so, then please tell me that the reports were wrong.

But how could the reports be wrong when they were quoting you directly? I am not so surprised about Erap’s talking politics even amid a calamity, but you? How can you now claim to be solicitous of the people’s welfare when you can devote your time to politics while thousands of people are crying for help? Has politics made you insensitive? Perhaps, you merely made an error in judgment, just like your pet peeve in Malaca├▒ang.

There is nothing bad about telling people about what you are doing to help other people.  Sometimes, that brief mention of your name and that bit of acknowledgment or even a simple thank is all that keeps you going when you are bone tired.  I am sure the personalities mentioned here don't require tokens of gratitude or debts of gratitude, but they are still human beings who respond positively to sincere gestures of appreciation.

If some publicity is all that they want for the help they give, fine. Let them have it.  Tasteless as it may be to some, it is more substantial than an ARM CHAIR HUMANITARIAN'S WORDS FLOATING AROUND IN CYBERSPACE. 

Anyway, going back to the account of the relief operation snafu, Martin Cervantes claimed that PNRC staff on site Anne Torres informed them that they couldn’t give out the goods yet because “protocol” dictates that the PRC chair….Mr. Dick Gordon was going to visit and deliver some sort of speech or at least hand out the goods. We were informed by a certain Ms. Torres that this was how it goes…

Cervantes expressed his exasperation saying, "WE COULD STAY THERE the whole day to help out and make sure the people there would at least be spared from any further hurt (if losing a house wasn’t hurtful enough) by doing something significant, instead we were made to wait doing nothing just because someone wanted to use the program for his political gain."

Someone who got in touch with PNRC Staff on site Anne Torres said that "she admitted that it was she who ordered the "hold" on the relief distribution until additional goods arrived in the evacuation center since the relief bags DID NOT MATCH the number of evacuees(that is the reason why stubs are given out to each family)."

Having been with Senator Gordon on a number of relief missions, I can vouch for the fact that Gordon has never EVEN ONCE ordered to delay the distribution of relief goods until his arrival.  There is NO SUCH PROTOCOL, as claimed by Martin Cervantes. Moreover, there have been countless times when Gordon would refuse to show up at evacuation centers or PNRC operations site, knowing it would just hamper the operations there -- people would attend to him rather than to the emergency on hand.

The person who got in touch with Torres said that Senator Gordon did not go to Novaliches but had only gone to QC and Marikina schools.  "If there was any protocol it had to do with additional security measures since the US Ambassador had joined one relief distribution in Tatalon, QC."

Even while Martin Cervantes was probably shooting his mouth off at Senator Dick Gordon for having made him wait for hours at the relief operations site, Gordon was visiting other relief centers and issuing orders for the deployment of rescue teams to other parts of the country that were even worse hit than Metro Manila.

Cervantes' note on Facebook must have eventually reached his superiors and for its part, the company issued an apology for their employee.
From: ALI Gulapa, Zarah H.
Date: Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 2:50 PM
Subject: Sincere Apology

Good Afternoon, Senator Gordon:

This is with regard to the negative Facebook entry discussed over the phone. As I expressed on the phone, we are deeply sorry and embarrassed that our employee has done this, especially during this difficult time in our country. The emotions and opinions expressed by the individual, in no way reflects the sentiments of the Ayala Land management towards you or the Philippine National Red Cross. We have always admired you and the PNRC for your untiring efforts to address this national emergency.

The employee concerned is also very apologetic and has in fact expressed this on his Facebook account (refer to copy below) and blocked his blog so that no further transmission of his narration can be sent. The incident was very unbecoming of an Ayala employee and proper action has also been taken to address this with the employee concerned.

We will continue to partner and assist you in any way we can during these trying times.

Once again, we extend our deepest and sincerest apologies.

Zarah Hernaez- Gulapa

HR - Organizational Development

Cervante's own apology was posted on Facebook as a note.  It doesn't say who he is apologizing to and what he is apologizing for.  To me, it really smacks of insincerity.  After reading it, it sounded forced, contrived, smarmy, and certainly NOT SINCERE AT ALL.

Perhaps Cervantes has to understand and accept that disaster relief operations are not at all cut and dried events that happen on the dot.  It doesn't happen with the desired efficiency that they have at Ayala Land when it comes to, say, collecting the exorbitant lease they charge to restaurant operators in Greenbelt.

It is messy, dirty, and tiring work that is done to help people who will not be in the mood to be thankful for whatever it is that you give them.  It is work that can even put you in grave danger, since, presumably, you will be in a disaster area.  Moreover, it could be life threatening if a riot broke out at the evacuation center.

At the relief center where Cervantes was, Anne Torres said that there were only 500 bags of relief goods and there was a crowd of well over 1,000.  Torres was waiting for additional bags of relief goods, because, if she had started distributing the 500 bags and word got out that there was not enough, pandemonium would break lose at a place were people were desperate for food and other supplies.

You have to give Red Cross workers a little more credit, they know what they are doing and this is probably because they have been through almost every disaster that has happened in the country for the past several years.

Cervante's reaction betrays a lack of understanding of his situation and Quezon III seized it as an opportunity to land a blow against Gordon, who was not even the cause of any delay in the distribution of goods.

In my view, this really looks bad on Ayala Land and it really looks bad on Quezon III, but, perhaps, they'll both learn their lessons.

In the meantime, other political bloggers ought to consider stopping their tirades against all politicians until our countrymen who have been severely affected by Ondoy can get their bearings.  It is a time to help one another and there'll be plenty of time for our favorite sport later.

Keep safe everyone.

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