#NasaanAngPangulo? – Duterte tells critics: I’m here in Surigao

Published February 24, 2021, 12:43 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Looking for President Duterte in the aftermath of tropical storm Auring? Don’t count on critics making any accusations again that he’s nowhere to be found.

(photo from Senator Bong Go)

The President, himself, updated the public about his whereabouts Tuesday, saying he visited Surigao del Sur precisely to show his solidarity with, and support for the storm-hit communities in the province. 

Duterte was all too aware that people, including his critics, might look for him anew in the aftermath this latest calamity to hit the country when he candidly mentioned the matter during a storm situation briefing in Tandag City. 

“Pinuntahan ko lang kayo dito para… Kung magtanong kung nasaan ako, at least nandito ako sa inyo (I traveled here to be with you so… If someone will ask where I am, at least I am here with you),” the President said during his remarks aired on state television Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The President previously drew criticisms online over his supposed absence during the onslaught of two typhoons late last year.  The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo even became one of the trending topics on social media.  

At the time, the President defended that he was monitoring the typhoon Ulysses situation while attending a virtual regional summit. When typhoon Rolly hit last November, Duterte skipped a public briefing about the disaster response as he was in Davao visiting his parents’ grave.

In his visit to Surigao del Sur Tuesday, Duterte was accompanied by several Cabinet members promising to deliver swift relief and rehabilitation aid to the areas devastated by the storm. He told authorities to ensure the immediate provision of food, water and shelter for the families affected by Auring.

Before attending the situation briefing, he conducted an aerial inspection of the flood areas in the province.

“You know, as always, the early warnings sa anytime of — typically says that it’s a big one and it’s a severe one. So kaming mga trabahante sa Manila, nagahuwat lang pud og kanus-a mi makalupad o makaanhi either by boat or by whatever na makit-an nako ang sitwasyon (We were just waiting when we could visit here either by boat or by whatever so that I can see the situation),” he said.

 “It turned out that it is not so bad at all. Naay gamay mga danyos nakita nako sa taas (I saw a few damages during the aerial inspection) but I think over time nature will take its course and we can repair it,” he said.