The public face of a brutal government comes under the guise of efficient traffic management and it is a daily occurrence. At the Coastal Mall in Parañaque, buses from Cavite that are banned from entering Metro Manila are forced to offload their passengers there. For the trip to Metro Manila proper, the offloaded passengers wait under the sun or the rain for utility vehicles that will take them to the metropolis.
Double or triple rides, additional fares plus the agony of transferring from one utility vehicle to another. Pregnant women, people with disability, children and senior citizens bear the brunt of this daily torture from government. There would have been no such penance with continuous terminal-to-metropolis trips for the buses, which had been the practice from time immemorial.
(What is the deal, kaya, between the government and the landowner? Siyempre, may pera diyan. [For sure, money’s involved.)
VIPs, politicians, media personalities with huge megaphones and the punditry have welcomed the move to restrict buses from entering the city. Because it clears the roads for their private vehicles, or so they think.
It is basically an issue of comfort for the car-riding class, the comfort of the endowed class given priority over one of the most basic needs of the underclass.
More, such policy is obsolete and already retired in the developed world. In the developed world, where traffic management hews to a certain degree of sanity and modernity, the policy is the reverse – full use of the roads for the buses and restrictions for private vehicles.
Three principles guide modern traffic management. Walking, biking and mass transport.
But we are in a sad sack of a country where the interests of those with power and with megaphones prevail over the modern and data-based practices of traffic management and policies. Even the political Left, which feels that it would not rack up points from fighting for a just cause, has stayed away from the issue. There is no media mileage (as the media is for the ban) to be gained. So what the heck if mass suffering were involved and it were a daily thing.
Emboldened by the puffery they get from media on restricting buses and imposing daily cruelty on those who cannot complain (the Everyman and ordinary Joes to which I belong have no megaphones), more government officials are joining the ban-the-bus bandwagon. Cheers to government brutality and more suffering for the Everyman.
A so-called “ common terminal” for provincial buses will soon be put up in Muntinglupa City so the officials can ban more buses from Southern Luzon and the Bicol Region. To intensify the level of mass suffering.
Another so-called “common terminal” is being developed by the CAMANAVA LGUs, this time to speed up the restriction of buses from Central and Northern Luzon. To make the daily suffering a Luzon-wide thing.
On top, of course, of the so-called “ integrated transport terminals” costing billions of pesos that are being pushed by the national government through the PPP.
The government traffic managers and their cohorts in brutalizing the commuters seem to have a full run of the place and the full control over things. Until one governor went to the Supreme Court on Sept. 1 to petition the government to stop this obsolete, ruinous, class-based traffic management policy.
The governor, to the joy of the burdened commuters, is the thinking kind the traffic managers really have to contend with. He is Albay Governor Joey Salceda and he has more economic brains than Francis Tolentino of the MMDA, the mayor of Muntinglupa and the mayors of CAMANAVA combined.
Here is the comparison. While Tolentino practiced small-time politics and pandered to Tagaytay voters in his youth, Salceda worked as a quant and number-cruncher in the heart of the country’s financial district. Even before Michael Lewis coined the term “ Flash Boys, ” Salceda was a flashy young genius who always got ahead of the stock market through sheer predictive and analytical prowess.
From the way they present their divergent points of policy, you can readily grasp that hard metrics and analytics undergird the arguments of Salceda. Francis Tolentino, I wrote this before, is a policy crackpot.
Salceda, in his Supreme Court petition, cited that the total number of public utility buses in the provincial routes is just above 5,000 across the country, a blip in the total number of registered vehicles. They cannot cause traffic jams, no mater how hard you look at the broader transport environment. With a load factor of 30 to 50 passengers per trip and with diesel use more efficient than the gas-guzzling SUVs of politicians and VIPs, they form the efficient and de facto mode of mass transport in the country. In contrast, private cars, especially those ferrying kids to the exclusive schools have two and a half passengers: one kid, one yaya, one driver-bodyguard.
Banning the provincial buses is an act of discrimination against the provincial commuters, the Everyman, those with no megaphones, the suffering underclass. That discrimination as to economic class was rightly invoked by Salceda, who is not a legacy politician like Tolentino.
We hope that the present-day political leaders, who commuted to Metro Manila from the provinces during their college years but soon got stricken by amnesia as to where they came from after getting powerful and wealthy, would support the petition of Salceda and start the process of upending the cruel and obsolete traffic management policies of Tolentino et al.
They should, like Salceda, fight the good fight against obsolete and cruel state policies.