NOW it can be told. All efforts by authorities to address Metro Manila’s nagging traffic problems have only produced bigger problems and even worse outcomes as far as the business sector is concerned. A case in point is A. Bonifacio Street in Quezon City, which has become a perennial problem and a traffic torment to motorists and businessmen.
The whole area has become a hellish experience for motorists. Worse still is the corner of C3 (formerly Sgt. Rivera), a perpetually problematic intersection in that area. Yesterday, I happened to pass by that area coming from Balintawak and got stuck there for at least two hours. Yet nothing was done by whoever was manning the intersection. Traffic was at a standstill for two hours or more. I happened to call the MMDA at that point and everyone was blaming the one-lane truck policy.
Are we going to resign to the reality that this predicament is here to stay and therefore you bear with it and the authorities are resigned to it? The problem, actually, is not the one-lane policy for trucks but the management of traffic. While we give due respect to truckers and business, it should be on a scale where everyone gets equal opportunity. The non-moving trucks that block the intersection bring inconvenience to hundreds or even thousands of other motorists that pass through the area. The virtue of giving way or the right of way is lost in situations like these.
The Gilas Pilipinas basketball team did well despite being eliminated going into the next round of the FIBA World Cup Basketball Championship. Many sports fans from other countries have expressed admiration for the Philippine team for their accomplishments the past week of the tournament. But more than the accolade we received in sports comes a series of commendations from reputable credit rating agencies from around the world, a testament to the improved perception on the state of the Philippine economy.
South Korea-based National Information and Credit Evaluation (NICE) Ratings Inc. gave the Philippines another investment grade sovereign credit rating. According to the report, NICE Ratings gave the Philippines investment status for the first time. It raised the country’s long-term, foreign-currency rating by a notch from junk to the minimum investment grade of BBB-. NICE Ratings also assigned a “positive” outlook on the Philippines, which means there is a possibility of another upgrade within the short term.
In addition, the country’s rise in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) global competitiveness index proves that we are making our presence felt in the field of economic and market competition. The country jumped seven notches to 52nd place out of 144 countries. According to Malacanang, it was the 33rd time that we rose in standing since 2010, a feat that everybody should be proud of, if only to trumpet to the rest of the world our readiness to receive investments from other countries.
On top of that, the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) breached the 7,200-points mark in a surprise rally last Wednesday. This was brought about by good news of the credit upgrades and has buoyed the confidence of investors.
It is perhaps a cause for celebration that world financial institutions continue to shower us with praises for the achievements we have made in our economic and political milieu over the past four years. But it would have been better if all these honors could be translated into concrete benefits for the people. As it is, unemployment remains pretty alarming at 12 million, the inflation rate is more than 4 percent, and investment in the country remains lowest compared to other Asean economies. There is a great disparity in the standard of living of the poor and the rich.
According to the Second Quarter 2014 Social Weather Survey, conducted during the June 27-30 period, some 55 percent (estimated 12.1 million) of families consider themselves as poor. This is two points above the 53 percent (estimated 11.5 million) that considered themselves poor in March 2014, and three points above the 52 percent average for the four quarters of 2013.
The government should devise a system whereby the people at the grassroots level, who comprise the majority of the population, should be given priority in spreading the benefits of economic development.
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