Cardinal Tagle should take a bus ride from his native Cavite to Manila on a Monday morning. Here is what he would go through after getting off his bus very near the city: hours of waiting for a transfer ride to the city proper under either a scorching sun, or a heavy downpour.
He would be with pregnant women cursing, persons with disabilities swearing expletives at the MMDA in particular and the Aquino government in general, grumbling students late for class, anxious workers late for work. He would be witness to the general dislocation, despair and discomfort of those robbed of one of the tender mercies of the Cavite Everyman—a straight bus ride from Cavite to points in Metro Manila.
It is a daily suffering for tens of thousands of Cavitenos and it is not without economic and social costs. Workers have been penalized for their tardiness. Students have failed to take exams for the same reason. Persons with disabilities are shamed by the magnified physical disabilities, their weakness and frailties. Then, we have the double and triple rides, all which come at additional fares.
Cardinal Tagle would hear stories of abject helplessness from people who maybe his next of kin. The gist? The commuters are not the “Boss”—the constituency that should be served by a caring government —but the “busabos.”
And what is at the root of this chaos and massive suffering?
Cardinal Tagle would probably grit his teeth at the stupidity of the state policy behind the mass suffering. The government’s adherence to an abandoned concept in transport planning: in order to decongest the traffic in the city, buses from the provinces have to cease entering the city proper and end their trips at so-called integrated bus terminals. Integrated bus terminals belonged to 20th century transport planning and in the modern world—where there is an iota of sanity and soundness to transport planning—it has been abandoned for good . Across the modern cities of the world, mass transport is the third option for mobility. The first two, which can’t be done here, are walking and biking.
All at once, the liberating recollection of Pope Francis taking the bus on a regular basis while serving as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires—just like every Argentinian Everyman—would come back to Cardinal Tagle.
And throughout all the mass ordeal, Cardinal Tagle would be sadder upon learning of the Orwellian-speak of Francis Tolentino the MMDA chairman, the brains behind the failed orthodoxy and principal architect of the mass suffering. Does the Cardinal know that Tolentino, the author of the pain, used to be a Cavite politician?
Here is Tolentino-speak to the suffering commuters, from the context of Eric Blair, aka George Orwell:
• Suffering is good and is ennobling.
• A three-hour wait for a transfer ride under the sun or the rain is a blessing . It would give you a free tan—or a shower.
• Additional money shelled out for fares would contribute to the national economy .
• The PWDs would get stronger from the pain. After all, what can’t kill them would make them stronger.
Again, there is no attempt to make light of the suffering here. Tolentino is from the Inner Party speaking to the Proles and his Big Bosses in Oceania are nodding in approval every time he bludgeons the Proles.
A story of Cardinal Tagle tearing up over the insistence of the MMDA and the Aquino government to stick to the failed orthodoxy amid the mass suffering of his Cavitenos will hopefully change the media reporting on the integrated bus terminal issue—which has been a mere regurgitation of what Tolentino has been saying. Because the media are mostly middle-class, or pretending to be part of the car-riding middle class that abhor the pesky buses, of course, for their own comfort.
In a case of epic fail, the mass media has failed to report that in areas like Singapore, where modern ideas dominate, the official car of the prime minister yields the road to passing buses because it is official policy to give priority to means of mass transport.
In areas such as Munich, which used to go by the name, “car capital of the world,” stringent measures are being adopted to encourage walking, biking and mass transport—and keep private vehicles off the roads.
For environmental reasons, to conserve fuel and for more efficiency, mass transport is the way to move. Only banana republics where planning is all of idiocy and mediocrity do they still restrict mass transport .
That this is a country where more than 80 percent of the population do not own cars, and restricting mass transport to give ample revving up room for the Porsches of the Napoles’s kids is brutal, nasty and anti-poor.
The next step, according to Tolentino, is to ban provincial buses from the North and Central Luzon from entering EDSA. An “integrated transport terminal”—which is not even enough for the buses of one major company—is being set up, said Tolentino.
If he does that, and with the mass suffering of the Cavitenos growing by the day (and with Facebook and Twitter spreading the travails and horrors of the daily commuters from the provinces), this self-styled caudillo of EDSA will be laying the seeds of massive discontent against the government.
What if the commuters lay siege at a most familiar venue—EDSA—because there is no other alternative for venting out their daily suffering? The quie and peaceful reign of the lavishly-praised and internationally—lionized Tayyip Erdogan, remember, was unsettled by a small public park development issue.