Question for PNoy: To party or not to party?

Voltaire Tupaz
A personal reassurance from the President that things would get better would have mattered more.

MANILA, Philippines – A day after Tropical Storm Sendong pummeled the country and left over 600 dead, President Benigno Aquino III drew flak from Twitter users for partying. This, after actress Valerie Concepcion tweeted to thank the President for “laughing at my jokes and enjoying my performance.”

Concepcion immediately deleted her controversial posts and issued an apology via her Twitter account.

She tweeted that while she did not see anything wrong with Aquino attending the gathering on Sunday night, she was “very sorry” for sounding insensitive by tweeting on the party.

“But if I, in any way, offended you guys and sounded insensitive, I am very sorry. It wasn’t my intention to do either. I can’t imagine how difficult life is for the people affected in Mindanao and how difficult it is to be the president of the Philippines at this moment. Once again, I am very sorry for all those people I have offended. May God bless us all,” she said.

Concepcion and another singer, Jessa Zaragoza, were invited to perform at Malacañang’s Christmas party for their employees with their families.

Aquino attended the gathering, but Concepcion said it was his “obligation and responsibility being the head of Malacañang to be present and show his support for his hardworking employees and their respective families.”

“But I believe that it doesn’t mean that the president is not thinking of ways to help our kababayan(s) in Mindanao. It doesn’t mean that the president is disregarding the plight of our fellow Filipinos. Let’s not be too quick to judge,” she said.

Concepcion could not hide her excitement that she posted a series of tweets about her gig in Malacañang Sunday night. 

@v_concepcion: “I’m on my way to Malacañang..ü Will sing 2 songs there.. 🙂 Tapos didiretso na ako sa World Trade Center after.. See you there! Booth 814 ;)”

@v_concepcion: “I’m here na sa Malacañang for the PSG Christmas Party..ü Ms. Jessa Zaragosa is here also.. 🙂 3 kanta pala ako dto.. Akala ko 2 lng.. Hehe..”

What caught the attention of Twitter users was Concepcion’s post about Aquino laughing at her jokes and enjoying her performance at the party.

@v_concepcion: “Done w/ work.. Tnx for having me.. 🙂 It was nice to see Pres. P-Noy laughing at my jokes & enjoying my performance..ü #Malacañang #PSGNight”

She deleted the tweet but it was too late. An online debate on whether it was appropriate for the President to party at a time of disaster ensued.

Did he, really?

The post about Aquino partying disrupted the flood of tweets and re-tweets about relief goods and donations for Northern Mindanao.

Mindanao-based blogger Irene (@Mindanaoan) took time off from mobilizing donations to inquire: “Okay, I have to ask it. Is it true that President Noynoy Aquino is at the PSG Christmas Party tonight? Coz Valerie Concepcion’s tweets say so.”

Reporters on Twitter asked Presidential communications undersecretary Manuel Quezon III (@mlq3) the same question. Quezon replied he would confirm, tweeting that the PSG party was supposed to be on December 10.

Journalist Jef Tupas (@JefTupas) was more candid in expressing disgust:

“So partying with the PSG…is “better” than rushing to CDO and Iligan – where corpses just rot outside.”

Earlier on Sunday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) announced that the President would visit and inspect affected communities in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan on Tuesday, December 20.

The usually vocal @carlosceldran brushed off the Twitter tussle and slept.

 “(I)s off to bed. Don’t dwell to much on the Noy/PSG party y’all. It’s not gonna help CDO & Iligan in the long run. Seriously.”

Twitter user @almeaclain insisted Malacañang should explain:

“We want to know. He is not in control. There is an emerging pattern of response. Luneta to Sendong. #kthxbye”

Columnist Elizabeth Angsioco (@bethangsioco) preferred that the President did not party: 

 “(I)t’s otherwise party time naman talaga but as Pres. PNoy shld have been working. It’s a disaster we’re having.”

 But Twitter user Lyndon Martin (@lyndonmartin) defended the President:

 “I’m sure hindi naman kasalanan ni pnoy na may party ang PSG ngayon at andun siya. and also, sigurado ako may plans n si PNOY for CDO.”

Also on Facebook

On Facebook, the exchange was as intense. Veteran journalist Inday Varona’s blog post “The Party” sparked a heated exchange among Move.PH followers:

Dennis Mendoza: “Of all the things we can do at this time to help CDO and Iligan.. We have to deal is whether PNOY should be in a party? Get over it! GMA is in jail, at least her movements is retricted.. Stop creating issues senselessly targeting the President.. He is doing a good work addressing this.”

Paul Vallar: “Please explain how going to CDO/Iligan only after 3 days since the calamity “is doing a good work”.

Noel Nivera: “This is hypocritical of the press to indulge on this. The fact is we need to help but it also doesn’t mean we have to all together cancel our Christmas plans.”

Camille Christine: Its ok for the Pres or any gov official to be in a party during that night. Its NOT OK for any gov official to still be in a party after being informed of the disaster that is happening. 

Nove Flaviano Orbista: “This is the height of hypocrisy! The President is human too! Are you trying to suggest that the President was remiss in his obligation during the onslaught of the typhoon?” 

Issey Sugiyama: “When 600 people are dead, the last thing I could think of is party. Be it Christmas or otherwise.”

In her blog post, Varona said the President did not reach out to Sendong victims. “What they needed was a personal reassurance from the country’s most powerful man — that things would get better, that the government would help them move on with their interrupted lives.” – Rappler.com