For a president conscious of his “popular” image, Noynoy Aquino’s recent appearance in Davao and Samar showed him as somewhat inaccessible.

During the Philippine Development Forum for the Bangsamoro held here in Davao last Thursday, the president’s security and media relations group barred more than 20 Davao reporters from covering the president’s speech, while allowing Malacañang beat reporters flying from Manila to cover the event.

Davao reporters raised howl over this unfair treatment. How can an event concerning peace and development for people in Mindanao be made inaccessible to local reporters?

The president’s media group reasoned that the venue is already packed with Malacañang beat reporters. But this only showed their ignorance on press freedom and their disrespect to local journalists who should have primary access to such event that concerns development, peace and the people in Mindanao.

The anger is also based on the many incidents that local media gets sidelined from many presidential visits to Davao.  The last time the president came in September, Malacañang beat reporters monopolized the press conference on issues that had nothing to do with Mindanao such as Manila traffic and inanities of the president’s role in two showbiz weddings.  Davao reporters, who wanted to ask the president of the Bangsamoro peace process, were left stupefied on the sidelines.

The selectivity on who covers the president is a form of censorship. With that, what can the citizens from Davao, Maguindanao and other Mindanao places learn from this development forum? Can Manila-based reporters give context to this issue the way local journalists who have covered the peace process and struggles of Moro groups?

Two days later, Aquino again showed his inaccessible side during the first year anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda. Instead of visiting the heavily-devastated Tacloban City, he opted to visit Guiuan, Samar.

A news article quoted the president saying he skipped Tacloban as he has been frustrated with the city’s slow pace of rehabilitation, and said he opted to go to Guiuan to showcase its better efforts in recovering from the storm.

We are stupefied again by this reasoning. By being selective on a “success story”, Aquino seems to be covering up of the slow rehabilitation in the rest of Eastern Visayas, especially Tacloban.

We could see it on much news coverage how thousands in Tacloban and other towns remain living in poor conditions in tent shelters and relying on dwindling aid as livelihood has not been present.

This is the question that Aquino has to answer. What happened to the billions of pesos in foreign aid and local donations gone to. Government reports showed only resulted to 364 houses built. That’s equivalent to one house built every day. And we have 250,000 families or 1.3 million people (according to IBON Foundation research) who are in need of a roof over their heads.

Just as one year ago the typhoon unraveled the president as someone who has failed to rescue a house from sinking in a storm, right now he has shown that he can barely pick up the pieces after a ruin.

And his absence in Tacloban, a city in need of a leader and genuine aid, is a glaring show of non-action.

It is no wonder that in Tacloban, storm survivors marching on the street on the Yolanda anniversary. Like in Sendong and Pablo, the survivors in Eastern Visayas demand for government to do things right, and fast.

We should also add another demand that a president who is choosy of his own flock to preach his own mantra without actions, deserves our thumbs down. (

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