MANILA (MindaNews /18 July) — I checked out his professional profile online to answer some of my nagging questions about the fellow. What I suspected was confirmed. There it was, it literally jumped out of my screen. It seems he rarely if at all practiced his medical profession in the sense that he did not devote his career to providing frontline health services in clinics or hospitals.
He was mostly an administrator or a bureaucrat.
Now bureaucrats and administrators have their role and value in this world. But when it comes to emergency response, they are the wrong type of people to put in charge.
This explains why he is slow to respond, always putting up excuses about bureaucratic procedures needing to be followed. It explains his inability to understand the absolute need for accurate AND timely data. It also explains his seemingly desperate need to convince his bosses and colleagues that he is doing a good job. Bureaucrats have that insatiable need to prove their worth so that they will be kept on the job.
Again, I know this because I have coordinated emergency responses in East Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and of course the Philippines. I have seen what mechanisms need to be put in place, the material and organizational resources required.
More importantly, in these responses, I have seen all sorts of people – of different backgrounds and character – and though I rarely generalize, I seem to have acquired a grasp of how much value an individual of a certain background and character will likely bring into a crisis response.
Believe me I have worked with all sorts. Nationality and ethnicity? Europeans, Africans, Arabs, South Asians, etc. Profession? Engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, logistics experts, soldiers, etc. Character? You have the do-gooders with a saviour complex, bureaucrats obsessed with control, adrenaline junkies looking for an adventure in an exotic location, power tripping administrators, humanitarian tourists, the young professional eager to build his/her career in the increasingly corporatized industry of aid, etc.
So, drawing upon my exposure to the different types of people I’ve seen in my line of work, and having seen whatever is available online about his professional profile, I have come to the conclusion that he is the wrong person for the job.
That he misunderstood such a basic question or he was misunderstood is no excuse. At his level, such a basic miscomprehension is no longer available as an excuse. Only high school students use that excuse when they fail to turn in their science project on time.
I probably wouldn’t make much of this or care too much except that he is responsible for all our lives, our children’s lives. In a very direct way, we are the ones paying for his flaws and mistakes.
Do the honorable thing, please. Prove that you still care. Prove that you still believe the lives of the public are more important than your career.
(Zainudin Malang is a lawyer from Mindanao who spent years on deployment in acute emergencies in East Africa and the Middle East. Before that, he was the founding head of a human rights and civilian protection organization in Mindanao and was one of the five members of the peace process monitoring body)