Hell is EDSA at rush hour; Aquino and Roxas create it


Our political leaders and the economic elite, all of whom have chauffeur-driven cars and live in gated villages and condominiums close to their work, don’t realize that every single working day, millions of Filipinos in the metropolis go through hell twice a day: going to work and returning from work.

A conservative estimate of the number could be 5 million, or half of the 12 million population of metropolitan Manila, the sixth most populous urban area in the world.

These are the metropolis’ working class, most of whom live in the outskirts or in slum areas, kilometers away from their places of work.

Observe them along EDSA during the rush hours, and it’s a pitiful existence of the damned: They wait for half an hour for a public vehicle, lining up or elbowing their way through the crowds as they try to catch a jeepney or a bus,  usually jam-packed throughout the long stretch of this avenue. They queue under the hot sun or heavy rain to squeeze themselves in sardine-packed light rail train rides.

Shop attendants or sales executives who commute to work wearing their smart-looking clothes (whose work point to the country’s economic strength, its feverish consumption fueled by OFW remittances) get off the public transport all crumpled and sweaty from the ride. A bit of arithmetic would show that what they have to pay for in hair salons and presentable dresses — musts if their contracts aren’t terminated before their term — leaves them nearly with nothing before the next payday.

Can you imagine yourself every working day having to sit tightly next to sweaty strangers for two hours in a hot jeepney, crawling through traffic, breathing the carbon-monoxide fumes?

Probably 3 million employees now live east of the metropolis in such towns as Marikina and San Mateo, the only places remaining where they can afford the cost of acquiring a house. They have to leave home at 5 a.m. or even 4 a.m. to be sure they punch the Bundy clock in their places of work in Makati, Quezon City, or Manila by 8 a.m. They get home, after breathing in all the pollution on the road in one of the most polluted cities in the world, probably around 8 or 9 p.m.

Hell is EDSA at rush hour: Commuters queue at MRT-3 North EDSA station. Inset: A viral netizen’s expression of outrage, or wish.

Hell is EDSA at rush hour: Commuters queue at MRT-3 North EDSA station. Inset: A viral netizen’s expression of outrage, or wish.

What kind of existence is that?

Not even Karl Marx with his incisive and imaginative mind could foresee such cruel form of workers’ exploitation — probably unique now to the Philippines. A worker is paid for eight hours of work. But with one and even as long as three hours of commuting every day, he really is at “work” 10 hours a day.

Microcosm of everything wrong

The traffic in metropolitan Manila as the employees’ daily hell is, of course, a microcosm of nearly everything wrong with this Administration.

That it has worsened in the last five years is the clearest indictment of the corrupt and inefficient administration of President Aquino. Anybody who still respects this Administration should try commuting, say, from Trinoma in the north to the end of the line at the Taft Ave. station.

How difficult is it for this government to understand that the MRT-3 has become the most important system for millions of Filipinos to commute to and from work?

Aquino’s closest confederate secretary, Mar Roxas, had been in charge of the MRT-3 as transport and telecommunications secretary for two years after this administration assumed power. He could have set the DOTC on a course that could have made sure MRT-3 trains run on time, and as fast and safe as when it was first built. He did the opposite.

It was Roxas who kicked out the Japanese Sumitomo-Mitsubishi venture that had maintained MRT-3 for 11 years, and had always kept a six-month inventory of parts for repairs.

He replaced it with Filipino maintenance operators the DOTC favored, who obviously have failed colossally in their work.

And Roxas has the gall to think he is qualified for the presidency? I would think the only thing Jejomar Binay needs to do to win in 2016 is to flood the metropolis with posters of that MRT-3 accident, with photos of a smiling Roxas.

Why do MRT-3 trains keep breaking down so often that the train system needs to be shut down for hours at times; why do the trains stop in the middle of the tracks, and why do the trains get derailed and jump off the tracks?

Why are there fewer trains now compared with the previous years such that its carrying capacity has decreased, causing the long queues of commuters at the stations?

Why were there no such incidents and queues before, from 2000 to 2011?

The reason is quite so simple that we should all be shocked at why we Filipinos allow such anomalies that torture the working class daily, and be outraged because mainstream media have not gone to town against this scandal.

The P1.2 billion reason

The reason involves the P1.2 billion—so far—in maintenance contracts given by the DOTC starting October 2012 to two firms that appear to have close ties with President Aquino’s political allies.

These outfits – first PH Trams and then APT-Global – turned out either to be bumbling amateurs in light-rail vehicle maintenance, or decided to skimp on the necessary spare parts to keep the trains running efficiently–and safely.

They didn’t import and stockpile the high-quality spare parts needed for the light-rail vehicles and the replacements for the tracks. Parts were, instead, cannibalized from the other cars that were put out of operation, so that only 50 out of the 73 cars operating in 2011 are running now.

This is one reason why MRT-3 trains are slower so that commuters have to wait longer. Parts of the track had worn out and should have been replaced, but weren’t because there were no replacements. The result: fewer trains have been running and those that do have to run slowly, requiring commuters to queue for hours to ride the jam-packed, not to mention, dangerous trains.

Capital costs are huge for a train maintenance operator since the spare parts needed have to be ordered in advance because of the minimum six-months’ time for these to be manufactured and shipped to the country from abroad.

Light-rail system parts aren’t items one could buy from the shelf at the hardware store. They’re things made of high-grade steel which mostly only the original builder can provide, and on a “per-order” basis.

A unit of the giant manufacturing Japanese firm Sumitomo that built MRT-3 with Mitsubishi Corp. in the late 1990s, when it maintained the system until September 2012, had a six-months’ inventory of the usual parts needed to be replaced.

Manual signaling system

There is a second reason why the MRT trains’ speed had to be reduced. Its signaling system – its computerized, sensor-based network that manages railway traffic in order to prevent trains from colliding – had been built more than a decade ago by a unit of the Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc. The firm informed the DOTC in 2010 that the system had to be upgraded, as there were no longer parts for it since it had become outdated.

The upgrade would have cost P185 million, and should have been included in the maintenance contract. It wasn’t. Why? Was it too big a cost that would eat into the contractors’ profits?

Bombardier engineers who were initially hired by PH Trams to maintain the signaling system reportedly left in a huff in 2013 when they stopped receiving fees due to them.

The result: The signaling system is so inadequate that train operators have resorted to a manual method, using “walkie-talkies” bought from Ace or True Value, to report their positions, a process that requires much slower train speeds.

Out of the total cost for maintaining the MRT in the past ten years when it was maintained by the Japanese contractor, 60 percent was used for buying spare parts for the cars and rail-tracks, as well as for maintaining the computerized signaling system, while the remaining 40 percent was for management and labor costs.

These means that if the two maintenance operators who got the P1.2 billion contract from the DOTC had not purchased the parts needed for the trains’ maintenance, they could have easily pocketed the 60 percent that should have been used for their parts inventory, which means a huge P742 million income. The Senate committee that has been investigating the MRT problems should subpoena these firms’ books.

What makes this kind of corruption so outrageous is that the grafters were as dumb as they were so arrogant. They thought they could make money by taking over the contract of a world-class, experienced engineering firm that built and had maintained the system for a decade, and that they didn’t need to import the high-grade precision-engineered spare parts for the trains.

Because of such arrogant stupidity and insatiable greed of Aquino’s people, the hell millions of Filipino commuters suffer every day going to and from their workplaces has been getting worse each day.

FB: Bobi Tiglao


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  1. bakit ba hindi pwedeng magtayo ng isa pang road , like second level na road para bawas/wala ng traffic..o anything just to have no traffic.. please solve this our dearest government.. if now we are having hard time in a like hell traffic, what will happen to the future generation, lakad pagong nalang ba??

  2. So sad, so many good comments and suggestions, but will never reach the government’s ears…

    A lot people (NOT ALL) dont follow rules and have no discipline, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for the government to be super corrupt. They are leaders, ffs, oh well… just another comment down the drain i guess.

  3. to start with you need a basic road user code . One Way means One Way , no exception . IF YOU Want a better way of life. Only you can do it . But what I see is everyone for themselves . don’t get the wrong idea , I love the Philippines . married Filipinos. retired from UK to here.
    Filipinos wake up and demand a better deal for yourselves and your children .

    • Exactly. People complain of corruption. YET when they are caught violating traffic rules, paying off the traffic enforcer is always the option taken. WHY? Because it would be a hassle to go to the precinct and claim their licenses, take traffic classes, etc. Any wonder why corruption is so rampant?

  4. If pnoys’s men are grafters and are as dumb as they were arrogant, then it goes also true to pnoy who is also a grafter, dumb and arrogant pres. Same feathers are the same bird!

  5. No matter what solution you put in there like additional roads, coaches, trains, etc. it will never work since land area is limited. Put more development projects and progress into the other provinces so that people will no longer flock and crowd NCR.

  6. Just have development and progress spread to the other provinces so that people will not flock and crowd NCR.

  7. Rigoberto Tiglao has very good insights. I believe he could be a very good Vice President for NogNog Binay who has not found yet a VP as almost all he offered for the Veep position refused. Roxas,Poe,Manny Pangilinan,Duterte,Atty Berberabe of Pag-Ibig all turned down and refused to be the Veep of Binay……..Bert Tiglao you are the most qualified having been identified as the brightest adviser of Convicted President Erap Estrada who was impeached and imprisoned. Goodluck future Veep Tiglo. The best ka talaga !

  8. Romy A. Cator on

    I am a 74 year old man and during my younge years I can vividly remember that journalist did not just criticize Presidents and other public officials, they also wrote about something good for the country and the people
    they have done so it will turn out to be fair and honest journalism. But now it is very different it appears that most journalist do not like PNOY and Mar Roxas for reasons I do not know. Be FAIR.

    REPLY: Then you should learn more about the CORRUPTION AND HYPOCRISY of the Aquino administration–how smuggling has multiplied during the past 5 years, hpw poverty has increased, how crime has increased tremendously, how the LRT and MRT rapid transit system has been corrupted and made o lethal to passengers, how until now some of the victims of Yolanda have not received aid to restore their homes and livelihoods, etc etc etc. Please wake up, sir!

  9. Focus not only on additional coaches, line extension or new lines (Subway/LRT/MRT/PNR), maintenance & upgrading existing train facility. But much better to include the following:

    1. Additional Railway for semi or full express train service (w/ limited stops) to reduce travel time and prevent train fast deterioration (wear & tear)

    2. Exclusive railway for Freight (container/cargo) train to accelerate the flow of goods and reduce no. of truck or lorry in roads/highway.

    3. Airport express railway system that is directly connected link to a Centralise Transport Terminal with hotel facility.

    “A devel­oped coun­try is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use pub­lic trans­port”
    – para­phrased from Enrique Penalosa, for­mer Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia

    Why not invest more on trains MRT or mass transport system instead of more road/flyover/expressway. Road projects will just benefits the Arabs & oil producers due to our dependency on fossil fuel. More train will reduce vehicles, pollution, accidents and promote safer & better (convenient/cleaner) future for all.


    REPLY– Your suggestions are god, sir. But first of all, let’s STOP THE criminal and accident-causing CORRUPTION of the management of the rapid transit systems!

  10. Hope the next President (none LP) would be smart enough to prioritize the rationalization of bus service to relieve the EDSA commuters from their suffering. Centralize the dispatch and institute a schedule of buses plying the entire length of EDSA.

  11. Amnata Pundit on

    Roxas is the proof that a foreign diploma and a stint in Wall St. do not guarantee competence in public office, while this BS is proof that catastrophe can be the only result of a colossal ego combined with colossal ignorance in high office, but in this moron’s case you have to add the element of deep seated hate as the prime motivation for seeking power. Given his kind of affliction the result should not really be a surprise. But will we be talking of these two jokers today if EDSA 1 and 2 did not happen?

  12. I just cannot comprehend that despite the inefficiency and corruption of this government, no one seems to care. Unlike in Arroyo-era, where rallies, coup and destabilization is present left and right..What luck is in this government anyway?

    • Rallies and Coups are not the solution to our problems, these are the effects. We should start with the 2016 election. Citizens must vote wisely, and not be dazzled by movie star looks or characters pretending to be pro-poor. We need a leader that can make good decisions with balance for the benefit of ALL. I think the reason why there are no coups nowadays is that the populace has realized removing an incompetent leader and replacing him/her with another equally incompetent one only makes a bad situation worse. What makes me sad… is that up to now, potential voters are easily won over by empty promises…

    • yeah right while before all eyes were to the president konting galaw dagsa na rallista sa kalsada at lahat ng mga anti govt nagiingay even the media..lucky only this current administration he has a popular celebrity sister and a friend/ex gf from media people kaya di na masyado tinutuligsa mga kapalpakan nya at sarado bibibg nila even sa mga anomalyang ginagawa ng mga taong inaappoint nya….shame on o=this gov’t shame on our president and his allies……………they are all hypocrite and corrupt

  13. Fiona de Guzman on

    It’s always a pain in the arse when you use EDSA’s public transport system. Will we ever see the glory days of EDSA? I hope MRT gets fixed soon because it will certainly change the way people commute every single day. Whatever happened to it reflects back to Pnoy’s administration and we all have to suffer the consequences, except for those who are calling the shots for us.

  14. Firestarter on

    It all boils down to Edsa 1 when the gullible people in Metro Manila elected a housewife with no experience in handling a very sensitive office in any government service. Again, we made a mistake the we elected another stupid and incompetent member of the family who brought us only misery and misfortune to our nation.

  15. First World Country? Sounds like Worst World Country to me.

    The Benignorante is doing the opposite of what he says.

  16. odad mendoza on

    The formula for efficient transport system is already given. Subways, elevated highways, reduced intersections, MRT’s, efficient bus routes, disciplined taxi drivers, etc. All of these can be seen in developed nations. Why not in the Philippines? If BS Aquino can railroad anything if he wants to, why can’t he railroad the building of an efficient transport system? Where to get funds? Butch Abad can do that. He can invent a “DAP” for this purpose.

  17. All the MRT3 maneuverings and that $30 million shakedown of Inekon were all part of the fund raising exercise of the Liberal Party for the 2016 elections. I doubt if Noynoy and Roxas could have anticipated the consequences of what they have done. Now the two are in deep shit for what is happening in that monument of corruption in the middle of EDSA and the silence of the two about it is deafening, a tacit admission of the crime.

  18. And Korina Sanchez has the gall to say Roxas is the best candidate?! If that was true, then the country is truly fully populated by idiots.
    Payag kayo nun?

  19. Talagang KURAKOT ay cancer na ng sinomang maupo sa malacanang. Either ng mga relatives, kaibigan na tumatanaw ng utang na loob dahil tumulong nung kampanya, ka party mates o kapanalig na personal. 1.2 Billion din ang helicopter deal na 15% ang mapupunta sa commission ni Gazmin 7%, ni Manalo 5% at ni Joey 3%. Less 15 percent pala ng 1.2 billion ang true value ng 21 helicopters na yan. At nagkataon 1.2 Billion din ang sa MRT3. kasuklam suklam ang garapalang kurakot ng mga buwayang ito. saan nyo naman dadalhin ang ganyang kalaking pera na hindi naman makapagpapaligaya sa inyo.

  20. It was Roxas who kicked out the Japanese Sumitomo-Mitsubishi venture that had maintained MRT-3 for 11 years, and had always kept a six-month inventory of parts for repairs.
    He replaced it with Filipino maintenance operators the DOTC favored, who obviously have failed colossally in their work.
    If Roxas runs for President in the Presidential election on 2016, we should ask him this question.

  21. Johnny Ramos on

    I bet Mar Roxas thought that the Sumitomo Mitshubishi contract was rigged then that when he tried to squezed them for a cut the service contracted denied it he decided to cancel the agreement. When PH Trans took over the relation between DOTC and Inoken went sour because of the demand was so high that Inoken back out of the deal. At this point PH Trans was left without of parts supplier since it was Inoken who supplied the train that MRT3 is using. I wonder how can Pnoy and Mar can bragged this Mrt3 problem during the campaign? With the Mamansapano and high crime on the rise Mar become the only cabinet member that failed in two department.

  22. concern citizen on

    ewan ko kung anong pag iisip meron ang dotc, inuna pa palitan ang lagayan ng tickets kesa sa tren! mag isip nga kyo mga taga dotc, kung ano ang gumagana un ang papalitan nyo! ang kailangan dito tren!

  23. Bakit kaya? BBL, Corona impeachment, DAP kayang-kayang i-railroad. Pagdating sa solution sa MRT/LRT/PNR at traffic issues, di kayang i-railroad.

  24. jack aquino on

    Kulang na lang na palitan ng mga alipores ni Pnoy ang mga MRT tren ng mga kuliglig para lang kumita ng katakutakot ka pera!!!


    NOW, something is definitely not right in all Filipinos. Something is amiss.

    Something needs to be done URGENTLY about the APATHY that is currently plaguing Philippine society, because it is spreading very fast and infecting everyone (rich & poor, young & old) and I don’t know what to make of it. But I’m definitely sure it is NOT GOOD for the Philippines and it will create a BAD future for all.

    Is this the Philippines that we live in now? with a handful of people (corrupt politicians & oligarchy) have made it their business to loot public resources at the expense of 100 millions of Filipinos, while 100 millions of Filipinos watch it happen right in front of their eyes. Rather than make noise, protest and take action, why do Filipinos simply accept?
    1. unknowingly or ignorant.
    2. blinded or brainwashed.
    3. pretends it not happening.
    4. know but don’t care.
    5. influence by religion.

    It is so common to see comments on social media asking writers or bloggers @ GetReal Philippines, BayanKo, CoRRECT movement, Filipino Scribe, etc. (Ilda, Bening0, Grimwald, Orion Perez, Carmen Pedrosa, Jerry Ocampo, Flippinflips, Mark Madrona et. al.) to do something about an issue.

    Doesn’t this country belong to every Filipinos?

    It takes great effort & courage to write or voice out big issues concerning our nation problems and reveal anomalies, corruption, fraud, lies, deception and wrong doings by our leaders and government officials.

    But why do majority of our people (rich or poor, young & old) simply watch it happen. Why is Filipinos watching their country being looted and saying nothing about it? At what point are we going to say enough is enough?

    If you are a concern Filipino, you need to ask yourselves some fundamental questions:

    1. Have you lost your capacity as Filipino to feel? To love? To care deeply? for our nation, our countrymen, and our surrounding and our children’s future.

    2. What kind of society have we become?

    a. Where BBL is being railroad or push to be approve despite of Mamasapano Massacre and wide public disapproval.

    b. Where public resources are looted by our politicians (PDAF & DAP scam) right in front of our eyes.

    c. Where worsening MRT, transportation and plate no. problem seems to be new norm and people experience and watch it happen again and again….

    d. Where our government makes your life worse in-order for you to leave and work overseas. And eventually you make sacrifices being away from you family, friends & loveones. Either you end up being discriminated, exploited, raped, abused, jailed, killed, executed, and permanently separated or abandoned your family. OFW=Modern Day Hero or a form of slavery.

    e. Where worsening poverty, population explosion, street children, child labor and prostitution happens do not shake the core of our humanity.

    f. Where Poor Quality Leaders produced, groomed, promoted and eventually elected due to:
    – Popularity or Name Recall
    (Showbiz/Sports/News Celebrities)
    – Sympathy Vote (popular dead relative)
    – Political Dynasties, Machinery, Traditional Politicians,
    – Money Politics (rich or endorser/sponsor)

    g. Where your government is more concern on collecting & pocketing donations (local/foreign) rather than improving Disaster Risk Prevention, Response & Preparedness against Super Typhoon, Flooding, Earthquake and Fire.

    I believe every Filipino wants to see things work and I don’t believe that our people are not moved by all of the above.

    I believe that every Filipino wants Philippines to finally progress, afford the basics: education, healthcare, food, shelter, transportation, peace & security, and a achieve better & safer future.

    Every Filipino must be determine to get out from these problems and to be determine to take back our country, and protect it for our children’s future and next generation.

    Out of the Storm of apathy, Philippines must rise again!

    • sonny dela cruz on

      This is where you have to ask RICHARD J. GORDON & GIBO TEODORO to come out and do their PATRIOTIC DUTY to serve the country and the Filipino people to achieved their aspirations for a better Philippines. Support Mr. GORDON to be the next President and Gibo Teodoro as the Vice president of Mr. GORDON comes 2016. They are the answer to the present problems of the country. They will do a better job that no Filipinos have not seen before.how dedicated and honest they work. Both of them are not tainted with anomalies in PRIVATE & PUBLIC service and well experienced to run a big corporation like the REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. Filipinos should UNITE and call for Mr. RICHARD J. GORDON & GIBO TEODORO TO SAY SOMETHING IF THEY ARE INTERESTED TO SAVE THE COUNTRY FROM GOING DOWN AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE.’S SUFFERINGS.

    • Sonny De la Cruz, I think you have something there… If Gordon and Teodoro can be convinced to run, I’ll vote for them. As of now I don’t see any hope for the Philippines if any of the so called “Presidentiables” like Binay, Poe, Escudero, Roxas,…wins…

  26. Leodegardo Pruna on

    It is not only P-Noy’s men who are raking money from government. He cannot be an exception because he could stop whatever shenanigans his people are doing. If he isn’t, he is a party to the loot. God bless the Philippines.

  27. Armand Alianza on

    President BS Aquino III should order the DOTC and MMDA top and middle level executives to leave their government issued vehicles at their respective offices’ garages and take public transportation for even just 15 days. Let them experience what Pres. BS Aquino III’s supposed “bosses” encounter daily. Maybe after experiencing what the ordinary people have to live with daily this hell, they would come up with better solutions for this festering problem.

  28. rodrigonase on

    Welcome to the “Gates Of Hell”! Any comment to the contrary Chairman Tolentino?

  29. What i do know about the philippines is when they want to do something they look how its done elsewhere & is working well & they think we can do it better. Its never better the filipino way. But its rammed down your throats every single dy, pinoy this & filipino that, its as if foreigners know nothing & the filipino way is better. You have rules that foreigners cant own a company outright it has to have filipinos also in charge & therein lies a big problem. They just arnt up to the job & for many reason. One main reason is the filipino is so easily corrupted. His head can be turned by the temptation of a few pesos.
    You wont like hearing the truth but its the truth.

  30. To be fair it isnt just this administration its been every administration. But look on google maps at the overall picture of metro manila & you will have a good picture of why there is traffic congestion on most roads. Then another one is peoples driving, bring in a driving test, & i mean a very stringent one like in the uk, that will do a number of things. It will cut down on accidents thus reducing injuries. It will make the traffic run more smoothly. But on top of the driving tests you need enforcers & police strictly enforcing the traffic rules & that means everywhere in the philippines not just manila. Then look at introducing bus lanes, busses carry more people than cars. Most average workers cant afford a car. Its much more difficult commuting on public transport than driving your own vehicle. Give public transport priority. That will improve travelling times by bus & then more people will leave their cars at home & also use the busses thur redusing congestion even more. Im sure there are other things that can also be done.

  31. Sophia Amor on

    The state of our railway systems reflects the bad side of private and public management. The private sector, although more efficient, could sacrifice public welfare in favor of the shareholders’ welfare. The public sector, although theoretically concerned with public welfare, is inefficient and could be incompetent and corrupt. An alternative is to professionalize the operations of the railways systems. Put people who know how to perform their jobs and look for better, but simpler means of transportation like bus rapid transits, trams, bicycles, walking. As a commuter, it is an agonizing and horrific experience to travel in Metro Manila, especially during rush hours. You are stripped of your humanity and subjected to pollution and stress that kill, if you are not robbed by taxi drivers who demand fare more than what the meters would tell. The neglect and incompetence of the present managers of the railway systems are a form of violence inflicted on the working class who couldn’t do anything except to bear the cost of doing nothing consistently right.

  32. Rogelio C. Lim on

    Ito ba ang sinasabi ni Noynoy na ang Pilipinas ay magiging first world country. Araw araw sa loob ng limang taon, si Noynoy ay nagsisinungaling.

    • rodrigonase on

      Tama nga, first world country patungo sa impyernong kagagawaan ni Pnoy at mga alipores niya.

  33. Another great article by Mr. Bubby Tiglao. Mr. Tiglao simply wrote facts about one of the very good examples of PNoy’s “daang matuwid” slogan which he does not mean to practice.