Anderson Cooper, one of CNN’s primary anchors, challenges ABS-CBN’s Korina Sanchez to go to Tacloban after the latter criticized Cooper, saying that the CNN anchor had no idea what he was talking about when he mentioned in a tweet that there seems to be “no real evidence of organized recovery or relief” in Tacloban City. Cooper added that as wife of the interior secretary, Sanchez clearly has the means to reach Tacloban to cover the event directly from “ground zero” and see for herself that he was just telling the truth, his observations as to what is happening in the city severely damaged by Typhoon Yolanda [International Name: Typhoon Haiyan].
Cooper also clarified on Friday morning, November 15, 2013, in a live broadcast that he was merely reporting his observations based on what he had actually seen, and not trying to antagonize the Philippine government or attack it for its supposed “lack of presence” in the devastated province.
Cooper’s report which was aired on Wednesday, November 13, 2013, had mentioned how he was puzzled that he couldn’t find whoever was in charge of the operations in Tacloban. He admitted to having covered several other major disasters across the world and feels that the one Tacloban was a very bad situation, adding that there were no clinics set up at the Tacloban airport for the survivors to find medical aid, medical supplies, water, and food. He adds that the airport would have an excellent place to set up such a clinic because it is the one that has the quickest access to aid. Even the volunteer organizations that quickly came to aid the people of the city have no idea where to start because there was no command center for relief operations.
Upon his arrival on the fifth day after the typhoon severely damaged the city and many others in the Visayas region, Cooper believed that might have gotten late and that a lot of things would have already been in order, only to be disappointed with what he found instead. He observed that the survivors were already getting desperate for aid, especially for food and water.
He also compared the response of the Philippine government with that of Japan after the large-scale damage brought the devastating tsunami in 2011. According to Cooper, whereas there was no semblance of order in the Philippines, Japan was very organized in its operations, quickly setting up search and rescue teams to look for survivors and recover victims. Also, in a large-scale operation, Japanese forces combed through the wreckage, clearing debris, and “carving out cities into grids”. In the Philippines, Cooper observes that “There is nobody helping.”
Internet Users Irked at Sanchez’ Reaction
With her husband DILG Secretary Mar Roxas as head of the rescue and relief operations in Tacloban City, Sanchez’ negative reaction to Cooper’s report drew the ire of internet users who believed that the CNN anchor had more credibility because he was actually on field whereas Sanchez was merely waiting for other reporters to provide their story, and that she was letting politics and personal involvement change her perspective.
The day after Sanchez was widely criticized for hitting on Cooper, she went to Ormoc, Leyte, located around 105 km from Tacloban. There, she reported about the devastation, also giving out relief goods and her trademark “tsinelas (flip flops)”.