Last week, President Benigno Aquino 3rd finally put closure to the issue of his being open to a second term that even the editorial of the prestigious New York Times entitled “Political Mischief in the Philippines” bluntly criticized. Mr. Aquino reassured the Filipino people that he is not a “masochist,” who will go beyond the term of his office.
I completely concur that PNoy is not a “masochist.” But how about being a “sadist” for inflicting much suffering on his fellow Filipinos? The thought came to mind when I read and saw the photos and videos of the myriad of our countrymen lining up at the Mass Rail Transit (MRT 3) stations along EDSA in Metro Manila. This has been going for the past two years under the Aquino administration.
Last Thursday night, I accompanied my foreign friends to the MRT station along EDSA near Ayala Avenue in Makati. They belong to a religious organization that is doing charitable works with the poor in the City of Manila. After our sumptuous merienda at Mary Grace restaurant in Greenbelt, we walked towards the MRT 3 station passing through Greenbelt 4, Landmark mall, Glorietta 2 and SM Makati.
When we finally reached the MRT 3 station, I saw a sea of humanity lined in several long queues. There must have been close to a thousand commuters. My estimate is that it would take my foreign guests at least an hour before they could take their ride. Afterwards, another hour for the coach ride along EDSA. All told, close to two hours instead of what would normally take 30 minutes.
What makes the matter worse is that the areas for buying the tickets and lining up have neither air-conditioning nor evaporative fans. I experienced the heat and humidity of the place – plus the congestion of the myriad commuters. Amazing how the Department of Transportation (DOTC) has not bothered to think of simple things like conventional electric fans to improve the situation therein.
Queuing up alone just to get inside the trains is already miserable, but what more being inside the coaches packed like sardines? No wonder that DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya took his infamous train ride last week during the non-peak hours so he could be more comfortable. He even had an aide holding the umbrella for him beating the royalty in Europe and even President Barack Obama of America who holds his own umbrella.
Worse, the Transportation Secretary, who is the Liberal Party Secretary-General and acting president, took the coach reserved for women, the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWD). He may either think of himself as either gay and/or mentally-challenged to justify riding in the said coach. Or just sheer hubris exercising like royalty his prerogative as DOTC Secretary. As it has been often said: “Rank has its privileges!”
I agree with the clamor that President B. S. Aquino 3rd take up the MRT Challenge for him to ride the jampacked coaches and personally experience the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of commuters. It is the only way to do it. For him not to do so would simply confirm and reinforce the belief that he really hardly cares for the Filipino people that he calls – with all hypocrisy—his “BOSS!”
Malacañang Palace officials say that PNoy does not need to ride the MRT 3 for him to fully appreciate the situation. This is typical of the President when he shirks a challenge that tests the sincerity of his leadership. Unfortunately, he is a pathetic president who has not shown compassion for his own suffering people. He demonstrated this lack of concern and compassion when super-typhoon Yolanda struck in November last year, as well as in other calamities.
In complete contrast, Prince William and Princess Kate recently took the train back to London last week during the busy Friday rush hour. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went incognito “almost unnoticed” wearing baseball hats and dressed casually in jeans. They carried their own luggage over their shoulders—and not their security detail or “protection officers” doing it for them.
This simple act of the royalty together with their British subjects in the train surely endeared the monarchy to their people. (Prince William is second in line to the British throne after his father Prince Charles.) Even Queen Elizabeth is known to take frequent trips on scheduled trains from King’s Cross in London to King’s Lynn in Norfok and back to keep costs down on royal expenses.
Thus, why can’t PNoy of PH do it when the royalty of the UK (United Kingdom) can? Does Mr Aquino feel more of a higher monarch or just scared to ride the unreliable and dangerous train on top of the coaches’ congestion and the heat and humidity at the stations? Yesterday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported “a failure in the communication systems last August 23 caused the entire line (of MRT 3) to stop operating half a day.”
The Inquirer also reported that last Tuesday, September 2, “the doors of the MRT3 coach opened as the train was running.” There is supposed to be a DOTC probe on the said incident, among several others including an accident that injured almost 40 persons caused by a derailment Secetary Abaya prematurely blamed on the drivers.
Over the past four years, Filipinos may not have noticed that it took so much time before President B. S. Aquino would visit the places in the country hit and damaged by the typhoons and flooding. Yes, he must be the President of the Philippines who takes the longest time to respond and inspect the areas stricken by natural disasters.
As usual, the national government is always late to respond, starting with the Office of the President in Malacañang with PNoy in particular! So what else is new?