Reactions

I GOT SOME interesting reactions to last week’s Fatal Attrition. You talk about traffic and you hit a raw nerve… which is why I seriously doubt that the INC leaders will draw the understanding of the public when their saber-rattling is done. All they will get is the ire of a tired metropolis for further snarling the already gnarled traffic.

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The INC rally outside the DOJ on Padre Faura. gmanetwork.com

They say they can hold their ranks till Sept 4. With all due respect to the kapatiran (most of whom are merely following orders), I regard that as pure hubris. First, they build a bully pulpit in one of the most congested parts of Manila, then they threaten to mass on EDSA for who knows how long. ­­ They want to prick the government, but it’s the workaday folks they’re jabbing. They might just find a ready counterpunch. From the responses I got last week, it seems that people have had enough.

Some of those who reacted to Fatal Attrition have allowed me to share their comments in this article. I’m grateful and will conceal their identities, as requested.

One of them, who regularly travels on EDSA, lamented the persistent traffic there despite the various schemes proposed by MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino to ease vehicular volume. She stated:

sa edsa kasi ako. dami ng kanyang traffic enforcer 2k na yata sila along edsa, mga cctv na ginastusan at mga monitor at sa napakalaking monitor sa office nya para lang DAW mahuli ang mga lumalabag sa traffic on the spot, at ang pauso nya na pinturahan ang mga bus ng malalaking plate number para mahuli agad ang mga lumalabag sa batas, makita bumabalagbag parin at ang kanyang bus stop na A, B, hindi rin ngyari. ang dami nyang project at sa bawat project pera ang katapat, at may lane pa para sa mga motor. e.. anong ngyari at 1hr parin ang traffic from mandaluyong to makati at 2hrs from camachile to mandaluyong, para ng tarlac at manila na yon. kahit wala pang mga ginagawa sa kalsada. …kung maririnig mo lang ang usapan ng driver at ng kondoktor pag sakay sa bus. konduktor: sige deretso mo nabigyan ko na ng 20ps ang 2 enforcer. driver: ganun ba…

The matter of petty corruption is largely known (yet needs to be validated, of course). She may have a point about the projects and their budgets, though. I tried accessing the MMDA’s livestreaming traffic updates last week and again today, and I got this:

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Note the comments on the right. http://original.livestream.com/mmda

She hopes that the government would create a strategy for decongesting the NCR by redistributing jobs to the provinces. (So did another of my readers who reminded me that Ferdinand Marcos had planned this back in the day, but never implemented it.) I agree with that concept and in fact have long wondered why the Executive, when relocating informal settlers, does not also work with the LGUs to provide support infrastructure. Why stop with providing housing? By setting up a marketplace and a plaza in the new site, and perhaps inviting the locals to invest in the new township, the problem of overpopulation in Metro Manila might finally be addressed.

Part of the challenge is giving people satisfactory employment as well as education and basic social services. I recall the last SONA where PNoy heartily patted himself on the back for the success of the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), otherwise known as the conditional cash transfer program. This scheme intends to foster social development (improving access to health and education) by extending social assistance (providing monetary support to extremely poor families).

As of June this year, there are nearly 4.5 million registered household-beneficiaries of the 4Ps nationwide. Cash assistance is given in two ways: a health grant of P500/household monthly and an education grant of P300/child monthly for ten months. (Each household may register up to 3 children, max.) The 4Ps website announces that

For a household with three children, a household may receive P1,400 every month, or a total of P15,000 every year for five years, from the two types of cash grants given to them.

These cash grants are distributed to the household-beneficiaries through the Land Bank of the Philippines or, if not feasible, through alternate payment schemes such as Globe G-Cash remittance and rural bank transactions.

As of June 2015, a total of P17.75 billion cash grants were paid to eligible and compliant beneficiaries for the first to third period of 2015 covering January to June disbursements. From this amount, P7.95 billion was paid for education, and the remaining P9.8 billion was disbursed for health.

My reader reports differently, however. She is a 4Ps Family Development Seminar Facilitator in Region 1, and this is her experience:

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She also shares that the grants are not remitted monthly as the website states.

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This is the voice not of some bitter political mudslinger, but of one who has been quietly working on the ground, with the people, hoping to make a change. She doesn’t travel in the rarefied atmosphere of privilege but takes a bus to get from here to there and has subsequently expended years of her life in traffic. She is a good witness. Though frustrated, she shared this information hoping that by exposing it, something will be done to rectify these anomalies.

There is much to be said about attracting people from Manila to the provinces. However, some local pols have made their towns very much like Manila in the worst ways. Case in point, this comment I got from a Cavite resident:

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Their experiences demand our serious contemplation about those who are now seeking government office. Will we elect those who will perpetuate these practices?

The middle class is the dynamo of this country. We provide the workforce and pay the taxes that keep the economy going. We do our duty and eke out a living and make ends meet. We are not rich enough to evade taxes nor poor enough to be exempt from them. When the DPWH and MMDA say, “We apologize for the inconvenience,” it is to us they say it. We are the most affected by the mindlessness behind the traffic that plagues us.

With its inefficiency and other failings, the government bites the hand that feeds it. We deserve better. Unless we address these irregularities and demand their correction, we will become inured, hopeless, like numbed people in a self-wrought cage.

“Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain.”

1 Timothy 5:18

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