The Hopeless Light Rail Transit (LRT) of Manila

The Hopeless Light Rail Transit (LRT)

By Apolinario Villalobos


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.

The Belated Reaction of Vitangcol…a hair-pulling regret!

The Belated Reaction of Vitangcol

…a hair-pulling regret!

By Apolinario Villalobos

Had Vitangcol revealed everything that he knew to explain his side, just when he was served his goodbye notice, he would not be pulling his hair today out of consternation after the Ombudsman has charged him as regards the Metro Rail Transit transactions, while those who signed the documents went scot-free. But first, he must accept the fact that without his endorsement, Abaya would not have signed any document…that is how the functions in an office flow, be it private or government. The boss signs if the assistant tells him that a certain document is OK as indicated by either his initial on the document itself, or a “top sheet” that consists of a covering endorsement/memo. If Abaya will go technical, he can wash his hands and be slapped with just a mild penalty.

Now, very belatedly, he is detailing how the different processes in the agency that he left are being done to show that he is the least guilty, implying at the same time, the serious culpability of Abaya, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication, being one of the principal signatories to the questioned transactions. Why did he maintain his eerie silence for a long time? Was he hoping that the Administration will interfere in his favor, as it is wont to do in other cases of supposedly favored President’s “aides”? Sorry for him, as Pnoy must have perceived him as just a mere insignificant personality, unlike Abaya who heads the Liberal Party!

Vitangcol should have understood how politics works in the Philippines before joining the “gang” so that he could have prepared himself if he would go on a spree of questionable undertaking, and which he did thinking that he was safely leaning on a solid wall which proved to be just a pock-marked presumption, so now he is reaping what he sow.

He clearly committed the same mistake that Purisima did – by stubbornly holding on to his dear, well-paid position, thinking that he is an important fixture in the Aquino administration. He even had the courage to exchange heated arguments with a foreign Consul who accused him of bribery, still thinking that the Administration would come to his rescue. He should have left his office posthaste as soon as he felt that his misdoings were already exposing him. Just like Purisima, he waited until the public’s irritation practically exploded on his face. As usual, their cases are one of regrets coming very much late…a painful lesson to learn!

Finally, Vitangcol should better stop acting like a cry-baby, and start organizing his defense if he does not want to lose his “well-earned (?)” and “honestly-earned (?)” benefits, or worse,… face the consequence behind the iron bars?