ONE of the hallmarks of the personality of Pope Francis is that of frugality and simplicity. This is why he chose as his papal name FRANCIS, after Saint Francis of Assisi who lived a life of great simplicity, detachment and evangelical poverty.
With the coming visit of the Pope, may our celebration of Jesus’ birthday not be defined by excessive commercialism and materialism.
Just going by the swarms in Metro Manila’s malls–and mind you they are not merely window shopping but eating and buying, really spending money—one can see Filipinos are really celebrating Christmas.
We can have our Yuletide celebrations without spending all our bonuses. The Pope would take the frills out of the Christmas celebration and keep things simple. He would be the first to say we don’t need elaborate celebrations to have a meaningful Christmas. We can spend less and yet feel Christmas more. He would be the first to encourage people to focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas, to bring back the simplicity in holiday celebrations.
Strictly enforce Drunk Driving Law
In the past years, we have seen our share of deadly accidents during the holidays, most of them because of drunk driving.
We already have a national law against drunk driving. Republic Act 10586 penalizes persons driving under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs and similar substances and sets stiff fines as well as jail terms for violators.
This law should be strictly enforced all the time but it is obviously not. This is the time to do so, because all the merrymaking during the holiday season leads to a lot of drinking, which causes a lot of accidents.
Like I said, in recent years, we have seen some terrible accidents caused by drunk drivers of all kinds of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, and yet how many of them went to jail or were punished or even caught?
Government authorities led by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Land Transportation Office and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency should conduct random drug and alcohol testing of bus and jeepney drivers, similar to what they do during Holy Week, which in the past found more than a few bus drivers driving their commuters to the provinces while under the influence.
What is really scary is when you think how many actually escaped the random drug testing and how often bus and other public utility vehicle drivers actually drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol on a regular basis.
As anyone knows, in this country, it is one thing to enact a law and it is another thing to enforce it. RA 10586 with its corresponding penalties, fines, suspension of one’s driving license and jail terms should be enforced.
Traffic laws should also not take a holiday during the holidays. Filipinos already routinely flout traffic laws, but during the holidays, especially in the wee hours of merrymaking, the more they do so. This leads to deadly accidents as well.
Traffic officials who try to enforce them should get more support. Recently two of them got dragged and beat up while trying to accost irate and undisciplined motorists. One of them got a broken nose and had to be operated on, and the other one recently got run over and is in critical condition as of this writing.
We have a lot of unruly drivers on our roads and the government lets them keep driving.
So I hope the sobriety tests that would be conducted on drivers suspected of being under the influence would not lead to any untoward incidents.
Thank you workers
Christmas is also the time to thank workers for their hard work and the contributions they have made to their respective businesses and workplaces the last twelve months.
So businessmen and employers should give their workers the mandatory 13th month pay, as well as other perks, allowances, bonuses and incentives, assuming they had a good year.
The Labor department has to be stricter in implementing our labor laws. Many of our workers are getting Scrooged not only with labor contracting policies and not being paid their 13th month bonuses, but also they aren’t being paid minimum wages, and their social security, PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig contributions aren’t being remitted.
The best Christmas gift for our workers is to give them what is theirs by law. And if their bosses and executives had a prosperous year, then by all means, please be generous and thank them by sharing the wealth these workers helped earn for you.
Merry Christmas to all our dear workers and may 2015 be truly prosperous for you.