Ang Trapik ay Nasa Ibabaw ng mga Tunay na Problema
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Ang isyu ng problema sa trapik sa malalaking lunsod ng Pilipinas lalo na sa Manila ay yong sinasabi sa Ingles na “scum” o “froth”. Kung ihahalintulad sa hindi dumadaloy na tubig sa estero, ito yong mga animo ay bumubulang nakapaibabaw sa maruming tubig, at kung sa serbesa naman ay yong lumutang na bula pagkatapos ibuhos sa baso. At, dahil lumulutang agad ay unang nakikita. Ganyan din ang trapik na nakikitang problema sa mga kalsada ng mga lunsod. Subalit, ang katotohanan ay hindi ito mangyayari kung walang problema sa bandang “ilalim” ng sitwasyon. Ang mga sumusunod ay naisipan ko lang na baka mga problema:
Kaluwagan sa pagbili ng mga bagong sasakyan dahil nagkakamurahan ng presyo….at, hindi kinokontrol ng gobyerno. Kung kontrolin naman ay sasabihin ng mga apektado na laban ito sa karapatan ng isang malayang Pilipino. Ang kagustuhan ng karamihan na bumili ng sasakyan ay bunsod ng kultura ng Pilipino na may kinalaman sa kayabangan. Kahit nangungupahan lang ng kuwarto ang pamilya, halimbawa, ng isang simpleng empleyado ay gusto pa rin ng padre de pamilya na magkaroon ng sasakyan para may pangporma at magamit sa pamamasyal sa Luneta ang pamilya.
Para sa mga taong ito, hindi bale nang panay ang utang sa Bombay at halos walang pamasahe sa pagpasok sa trabaho o di kaya ay alaga ng pagmumura ng may-ari ng kuwartong inuupahan dahil sa naaantalang pagbayad ng upa, basta may kotse lang na naidi-display upag kaiinggitan ng mga kapitbahay, kahit walang garahe. Nag-operasyon noon upang mag-tow ng mga sasakyang nakaparada sa tabi ng kalsada, subalit “ningas-cogon” naman dahil makalipas ang ilang araw ay itinigil na.
Pagpapabaya ng mga mambabatas sa paggawa ng mga batas na may “pangil” at makatotohanan. At, pagpapabaya rin ng mga ahensiyang dapat magpatupad sa mga batas na naipasa na. Hindi rin isinasaalang-alang ang pagtalaga ng karampatang budget sa mga naipasa nang mga batas upang hindi magamit na dahilan ang kawalan nito kaya walang mga gamit at mga karagdagang tauhan, na kadalasang dahilan ng pagtuturuan ng mga mambabatas at mga ahensiya.
Ang mabagal o makupad sa pagpapatupad ng mga proyekto tulad ng mga kalsada sa lunsod at highway sa probinsiya. At, kung nagawa na, ang mga ito ay palpak kaya madalas ang pagpapaayos agad…halatang gusto lang talagang pagkitaan ng mga tiwaling opisyal at ahensiya. Nagreresulta tuloy ito sa pagdurusa ng mga motorista at commuters …pagdurusang nagsisimula sa paggawa ng mga proyekto hanggang sa pagpapa-repair ng mga ito…samantalang ang mga kurakot ay masaya!
Ang hindi pagbibigayan ng mga motorista dahil ayaw ng bawa’t isang malamangan. Dahil sa ugaling ito ng mga Pilipinong motorista, yong traffic sign na “Yield” ay walang silbi sa Pilipinas.
Sa madaling salita, kaya matindi ang trapik sa Pilipinas ay dahil walang disiplina ang mga motorista, maraming butas ang mga batas na ginawa ng mga tiwaling mambatatas kaya pinagkakaperahan ng mga tiwaling taong dapat magpatupad sa mga ito, at hindi kontrolado ang pagpasok ng mga bagong sasakyan na umaapaw sa mga kalsadang hindi nadugtungan at naluwangan. At, sa mga dahilang yan…nagbubulag-bulagan ang mga nakaupong tiwali na ay kawatan pang pinagkatiwalaan ng taong bayan!
The electoral campaigns in the Philippines are treated by Filipinos as both spectacle and financial opportunity. Candidates assume different convincing facial expressions as they blurt out plans and promises if they are voted to the position and these are spiced up with pleadings that are made colorful with courteous vernacular words such as, “po”, “ho”, “opo”, “oho”, “natin”. Audiences are entertained by singers and dancers from the showbiz industry. Virtually, during electoral campaigns, corrupt personalities become saintly, and worse, demean themselves by being funny as they take the risk of being ridiculed – all in the name of the dirty Philippine politics. As a financial opportunity, well….vote-buying is done in the open, no question about that.
Mar Roxas plans to transfer the Manila International Airport to Clark Airbase. He must be dizzy when he mentioned this during an interview. He forgot about the terribly unpredictable traffic along the South Luzon Expressway going through which would take at least three hours before a motorist from Metro Manila could make it to the first Bulacan town. The reality is, if one would come from the Metro Manila area, he or she has to muster, yet, any of the hellish traffic along EDSA, Pasay, Roxas Boulevard, Commonwealth and Rizal Avenue. Passengers are used to reaching the airport today from their residence within the city or the suburbs such as Cavite, Laguna, Novaliches, and Antipolo in just about two or three hours depending on the unpredictable traffic. With the transfer of the airport to Clark, they must allow at least six hours, inclusive of the two hours leeway for the check-in before the published departure time. Worst is if the passenger will have to commute by bus to Clark. To be safe, a passenger will have to spend for an overnight somewhere around Clark Air Base if he or she is taking a flight the following day. Even if the government will offer free shuttle service, the same hellish traffic will be dealt with along the way.
Roxas keeps on promising the continuance of the programs of the administration to which he is so much attached as if with strong sentimentality. What is there to continue, anyway?…the obvious inept and insensitive attitude?…and still, another big question is, has there been anything accomplished that benefits at least the majority of the impoverished? If he is talking about the cash being doled out, such program is still being questioned, as in some areas it is allegedly tainted with graft. If he is talking about the “progress” based on statistics, this too, is being viewed as dubiously self-serving. He should also, not forget that the administration still has to answer many questions as regards the fate of donations for the typhoon Yolanda victims, aside from so many other issues with the hottest, as the Mamasapano massacre and the purported well-concealed pork barrel in the just-approved budget. It would do him good at least, if he scraps out the “tuwid na daan” from his campaign statements and just promise what he can do. He should make people believe in his capability, not in his association with Aquino whose reputation is debatable. As for being not corrupt, he could claim that.
Duterte is promising to eradicate criminality and corruption in six months or he would resign. Unless heads will roll at least within the first two months upon his assumption if elected, he better be prepared with a resignation statement. How can he control the undisciplined and financially-pampered Congress? For a town, city, or province, this may be possible, but not for a nation whose law-making bodies got calloused with corruption.
Binay on the other hand, keeps on saying that he is not corrupt. He must be imagining that the Filipinos are idiot! It is suggested that the word “corrupt” be not ever mentioned in any of his campaign ads, or uttered by him. He should, instead, promise hospitals and terminal buildings to be built during his incumbency…and find out if his listeners will boo him just like what he experienced in Cebu.
Candidates for the 2016 election know that plans and promises during the past electoral campaigns were made to be broken, so they will do it, too. They should not be meddling in politics if they are not honestly aware of this fact. Those that will come after them will again make promises, propose plans, and plead, as expected. During the electoral campaign that will follow, it will be done again….still, again and again…..a vicious cycle of the dirty Philippine politics!
The Monstrous Problem of Manila’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT)
By Apolinario Villalobos
The seemingly regular occurrence of crack, though, hairline in some portions of the MRT should have given a clear signal to the management that there is something wrong with the quality of the steel rails. Several years ago, China was prominently put in the limelight when inferior steel bars from the mainland that were supposed to be delivered to the provinces were intercepted. The locals dubbed them as fake steel which was not true, although, just of low-grade quality – inferior. Accordingly, they were sent back, but many are alleging that some are still stashed away in warehouses and being sold liberally. Steel is graded according to its quality that would suit its purpose, as well as, ability to withstand stress, and the grade must be compatible with the kind of welding rod to be used.
There is a question now, as to whether quality control has been observed in checking the delivered steel bars of MRT or not, knowing how the tolerant culture of Filipinos is oftentimes observed in many projects, that has got to do with the “ pwede na” or “sige na lang” attitude. In fact, when the new trains have been delivered, another problem came out, that of compatibility with the towing capability of the engine. The questionable quality of the steel rails has compounded the poorly-maintained elevators, escalators, and toilet facilities…making the MRT one of the monster problems of the Aquino administrations due to lackadaisical attitude of his supposedly trusted people.
Many are wondering why the Light Rail Transit which was built during the Marcos administration seldom encounters frequent problem on the cracked rails. Has it got to do with corruption? There is a general impression today, that corruption during the time of Marcos was stringently “controlled”, unlike the presence of such repugnant practice in practically, all levels of transaction today.
Ilang buwan pa lang ang nakararaan, laglag-bala ang mainit na isyu. Ang mahigpit na pag-kontrol sa mga airport upang maiwasan ang pagpuslit ng mga deadly ammunition ay okey na sana subalit nasilipan ng butas ng ilang tiwali sa airport dahil sa paniniwala ng mga Pilipino sa bala bilang agimat. Dahil sa katiwalian na iyan, maraming tanga at may matigas na ulong Pilipino ang nawalan ng trabaho sa ibang bansa dahil napigilan sa pagsakay sa eroplano dahil lamang sa iisang balang nakita sa kanilang bagahe. Maraming tangang Pilipino ang umaming nagdadala talaga ng bala sa abroad upang pananggalang daw nila laban sa pag-aabuso ng employer. May mga natanggal na ring mga inspector ng bagahe dahil kahit obvious na talagang walang laman ang bala dahil ang tinuturing na agimat lang talaga ay ang tansong basyo, pinagpipilitan pa rin na “deadly ammunition” daw ito. Bakit nga naman nila palalampasin ang pagkakataon ganoong, ang “pakiusapan” ay may presyong mula 2 thousand hanggang 8 thousand pesos???!!!
Sa pinakapangit na airport pa rin sa buong mundo, ayon sa survey – ang Manila International Airport Terminal 3, laglag-kisame naman ang isyu. May nasugatan, banyagang turista pa, mabuti na lang at hindi nasaktan ang kanyang asawang Pilipina at anak. Nag-apologize ang manager ng airport subalit hindi pa rin ito sapat. Bago nangyari ang paglaglag ng kisame sa coffee shop, ay nagkaroon na rin ng laglagan bago pa man binuksan para sa operasyon ang Terminal 3, at nang nag-ooperate na, nagkalaglagan pa rin ng dalawang beses. Ibig sabihin, ang diperensiya ay ang mahinang “original” na kisame o suporta nito, kaya siguradong ang bagong kisameng ikakabit ay madadamay. “It’s more fun in the Philippines” pa rin kaya ang sasabihin ng pinakahuling nasaktan na turista?
Nilaglag ni Aquino si Purisima kung kaylan sobra na ang alingasaw ng amoy ng “teamwork” nila. Nilaglag din ng administrasyon si Vitangcol ang sinasabing palpak at nangurakot sa mga deals at management ng MRT, pero under investigation, as usual, at pinagduduhan pa . Latest kay Vitangcol: humihingi ng tulong sa PAO para bigyan ng libreng abogado! Ang kakapalan nga naman ng mukha kung umiral! Yan ang problema sa mga tauhan ni Pnoy, ginagawang tanga ang mga Pilipino….gusto ba namang magkaroon ng abogadong ang nagpapasuweldo ay taong bayan na sinasabing niloko niya! Walang delikadesa!
May mga laglagan na rin sa pulitika bago sumapit ang election 2016. Nilaglag ni Pnoy Aquino si Mar Roxas nang i-veto niya ang batas para sa dagdag na 2 libo sa pension ng mg SSS retirees. Sa mga hindi nakakahalata, binago ni Roxas ang kanyang political ad dahil sinimplehan lang, walang music background, at ang dialogue tungkol sa tuwid na daan ay dinugtungan niya ng “pupunuan ko kung may kakulangan, iwawasto ang mali, at hindi ako nagnakaw….”. Malinaw na patutsada kay Pnoy na mula’t sapul ay walang bilib sa kanya. Nilaglag din daw ni Escudero si Grace Poe subalit deny to death naman siya sa isang interview…pero truthful ba siya?
A Closer Look at the Filipino “Nationalistic” Groups
By Apolinario Villalobos
Even during the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, there were already problems with China as regards the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, separatist movements and kidnapping in Mindanao, as well as, with Malaysia as regards Sabah, and most especially, corruption in the government. The same problems were inherited by subsequent administrations. But the “nationalistic” groups were more concerned in shouting invectives against America in front of the US Embassy and in burning effigies of American and Filipino presidents. They did not lift a finger in helping the government in its effort to recover Sabah, and not a single rally was held in front of the Chinese Embassy to express their revulsion over the issue on West Philippine Sea. Not even a question was raised as regards the effectiveness of the military against the separatist movement and kidnappings in Mindanao because of its inadequate facilities due to misused funds intended for its modernization. These groups cannot even lay claim on the success in deposing Marcos, because the religious groups and ordinary citizens were the ones responsible for such success.
Despite the open reclamations of China in the West Philippine Sea, these groups were silent, although, belatedly, they somehow held a lightning rally or two, after such, nothing was heard from them again. Despite the ongoing activities of the Abu Sayyaf and separatist groups in Mindanao, they remained silent. The overly grisly Maguindanao and Mamasapano massacres did not entice them a bit to make a move to show their support to the victims. Despite the moving of justice system at a snail’s pace and unabated proliferation of foreign “investors” who are exploiting the natural resources around the country, nothing is heard from them, too. And despite the blatant control of domestic medium-scale trading in the country by these foreign “investors”, still nothing is heard from these groups.
After the announcement of the Supreme Court’ decision favoring the legality of the US military presence in the country, these groups suddenly came to life. They maintain their claim that such decision shall lead to the construction of the permanent US bases in the country when in fact, nothing of that sort is mentioned in the agreement.
They claim that the continued presence of the American soldiers in the country will lead to the revival of sex- related industry which is not true. Even without the presence of US bases, there is uncontrolled proliferation of the sex trade via the internet, bars and massage parlors, even in the decent districts of Metro Manila. But still, if they want, they can knock at the doors of Congress and Senate for laws that shall control this kind of industry, and which should be appropriate for the time. On the other hand, they are supposed to know that even the local government can control such industry. And, just what have they done on the issue of poverty that contributed to the fast growth of such industry in the country? They should caution the sex workers if they are really bent on helping their countrymen involved in sex trade which needs to be treated as a separate issue, instead of using this alibi in pursuing their “nationalistic” objective. They seem to be blind to the fact that various sex deals are flourishing even without the issue on the US military presence in the Philippines due to weak national laws and LGU regulations that reek with corrupt motives.
What dedication to advocacy are they talking about when some of them are even holding passports stamped with US visa? If these groups are really serious in their advocacy, why don’t they hold rallies against the ongoing corruption in the country and the vote-buying, a political tradition that got deeply-entrenched in the Filipino culture? Why don’t they consistently hold rallies for the removal of department secretaries who are being questioned on the issues of smuggling, ghost NGOs, drug trafficking, illegal recruitment, and deplorable state of mass transit facilities such as LRT and MRT, etc. Why don’t they consistently hold rallies for the removal of the president, if they find him to be ineffective just like what was done during the time of Marcos? Why don’t they hold rallies against the unfulfilled promise of the government to modernize the military facilities after prime public properties were sold to foreign investors? Why don’t they picket outside the detention facilities where the Ampatuans are, to show their disgust over the hideous crime that they purportedly committed? These are what the Filipinos want to see and expect from them, as they claim to be “nationalistic” and pro-Filipino.
Obviously, the Philippines has been under a long-tested democracy which unfortunately proved ineffective due to its loop-holed system that led to the propagation of various forms of corruption. And, this is what the left-wing groups want to be changed to a more “nationalistic” system. But what do they mean by “nationalistic”?…a communism-inspired system?
By the way, I just want to make myself clear that not all nationalistic Filipinos have a communistic mentality.
When I took the LRT to Sta. Cruz on the morning of January 10, 2016, I noticed that the driver was not making announcements about precautions and as we were approaching stations as part of their standard operating procedure. Instead of the announcement via the PA system, the security guard on board was making the announcement to the highest level of his voice that he could muster. I presumed the driver was not in the mood or just plain lazy, until I finally drew enough courage to ask the security guard why it was so. He told me that the PA system of the train I have taken was kaput…broken…wrecked, defunct – for several days.
While the LRT management may treat such breakdown a trivial matter, for the commuters, especially, those who are new in Manila, it is not. The announcement being made as the train approaches each station is an important information for the local and foreign visitors who are taking the “risk” of riding the LRT train despite the discouraging forewarnings from the media about its frequent breakdown. Without the announcement, those who are not familiar with the stations along the route must crane their neck to have a glimpse of the station signboard or ask other passengers, otherwise, they might overshoot their destination.
The joke today is that, if one plans to take the LRT or its “sister train of anguish”, the MRT, he or she must have an “allowance” of at least two hours. The two hours are for the trek along the rails to the nearest station when the train suddenly comes to a grinding stop….yes, grinding because of the frightening “metal to metal” screeching sound of the wheels. When there’s a downpour, pity are those without umbrella. When the sun is generous with its scorching rays, pity are those without the same contraption for shade.
The elevators are still out of order. The escalators are still resting. The toilets are still padlocked, except for one or two. But, fortunately, the employees are doing their best to be nice with their ever ready smile and uncomplaining stance even when four or five passengers one after another pay in crispy one thousand peso bill. These are the people in the lower rung of operation who are trying make up for the handicaps of the LRT system. Meanwhile, those at the top, including the DOTC secretary, Emilio Abaya, are so embarrassingly naïve to the situation that noisy calls for their resignation fall to deaf ears….theirs and those of the president of the nation, Benigno S. Aquino III.
Though how Progressive a Country is, there will always be
Poverty because of Corruption
By Apolinario Villalobos
Perfection should be ruled out in the reckoning of a progressive country, because there will always be poverty due to corruption somewhere in the system of governance. In other words, the glitter of progress cannot hide poverty. For ultra-progressive countries, the signs may be insignificant as they try to blend with the glamour of urbanity. But in other countries, especially, the third-world, the signs are very prevalent, so that there is always a massive effort to cover them up occasionally, literally, as it is done every time there are special occasions such as visits of foreign dignitaries. This practice is successful in the Philippines.
Practically, poverty is the shadow of progress, and literally, too, as where there are looming high-rise buildings that are pockmarks of progress, not far from them are slums or homeless citizens who huddle together under bridges and nooks. These are misguided citizens who flock to the cities after selling their homestead, that have been farmed for several generations, to deceitful land developers, at a measly price. These are the urban squatters willing to be relocated but found out that the promised “paradise” do not even have a deep well so they go back to their sidewalk “homes”. These are contractual workers who have no job securities as they earn only for five to six months, after which they leave their fate to luck while looking for another job.
How does corruption ever be involved in the sad fate of the exploited? Simply, by the government’s negligence in providing decent relocation sites with job opportunities and basic facilities to those uprooted from their city abodes for more than so many years; by its cuddling of the spurious contractualization perpetrated by greedy employers; by its failure to guide and protect the rights of farmers who sell their rice fields to subdivision developers at measly prices that are not even enough to sustain them for six months; by its failure to provide the citizens with the basic necessities as funds are allowed to be pocketed by corrupt officials; and practically by looking the other way despite the availability of laws against vote buying.
Third- world country leaders should stop using the word “progressive”, but instead they should use “surviving” to describe their respective economy. If a country’s economy cannot sustain, much less, provide a “comfortable life” to majority of its citizens, then it is still “ailing”…hence, expect poverty to be trailing behind, just a few steps away from the pretentious allegations!
Ang LRT ay ginawa noong panahon ni Marcos. Hanggang ngayon, ilang dekada na ang nakalipas ay wala halos narinig na aberyang nangyari sa pagpapatakbo nito. Ang MRT ay ginawa noong panahon ni Gloria Arroyo. Iilang taon pa lang ang nakalipas, nakakapanindig-balahibong mga aberya na ang sunud-sunod na nangyari at nangyayari na ang iba ay magkasunod sa iisang araw. Ang sabi ng marami, noong panahon ni Marcos, takot ang mga opisyal na gumawa ng katarantaduhan kaya magaganda at de-kalidad ang mga proyekto. Isa lang daw kasi ang korap. Subalit pagkapatalsik kay Marcos, nawala na ang takot ng mga opisyal kaya nagkanya-kanya na ng pangungurakot na ang direktang naapektuhan ay ang kalidad ng mga proyekto – isa na diyan ang MRT.
Nitong huling mga araw, naglabasan ang mga kuwento tungkol sa mga imported na materyales pangkonstruksiyon na mahina ang klase. Nariyan ang yero na animo ay cardboard sa kalambutan at bakal na kahit sa tagal ng pagkakatambak ay “lumiliyad” sa kalambutan. Isa sa mga “sakit” ngayon ng MRT ay ang pagkakaroon ng lamat ng mga riles na bakal, kaya kamakailan lamang ay kailangang paigsiin ang oras sa pagpapatakbo nito upang magkaroon ng panahon sa pagkumpuni ng riles tulad ng pagputol ng bahagi na may lamat upang mapalitan ng bago. Ang nakakabahala dito ay hindi na buo ang riles kaya mas lalong malaki ang posibilidad na ito ay maghiwalay sa dugtungan at mangyari ang pagkadiskarel ng mga bagon! Paano na kung sa pagkadiskarel ng mga bagon ay nahulog pa ang mga ito?
Ang tanong ngayon ay kung bakit hindi iginaya ang sistema ng MRT sa maayos na sistema ng tumatakbo nang LRT, lalo na sa klase ng materyales at disenyo upang “nagkakahiraman” ang mga ito ng mga kailangang piyesa, at upang ang pagmintina ay hindi mahirap. Hindi dapat idahilan ang bidding na dapat ay mababa dahil ang nakasalalay ay ang pangmatagalang paggamit at buhay ng mga mananakay.
Kamakailan pa rin ay nagkaroon ng isyu tungkol sa pangungurakot daw ni Vitangcol na dating namuno ng MRT, kaya tuloy nahantad na ang dahilan ng paghihingalo ngayon ng mass transport system na ito ay ang walang takot na pangungurakot!
Sa ngayon pinapatakbo ang MRT kahit may agam-agam pa rin upang kahit papaano ay maibsan ang problema sa pagbiyahe ng mga taga-Manila. Subali’t hanggang kaylan sila pahihirapan ng pag-alala na anumang sandali ay may sakunang mangyayari sa kanila….na sana ay huwag naman?
(LRT – light rail transit; MRT – metro rail transit)