SOMETIMES one can’t but ask the obvious: why is it that this President who’s got writers and media people as part of his communications office, why is it that he can’t deliver a Lenten message that does not ruffle our feathers?

“Bilang mga tagasunod ni Kristo, nararapat lamang na tayo’y tumulad sa kanyang mabuting ehemplo. Wala na nga pong tutumbas sa sakripisyong ipinamalas ni Hesukristo at kung tutuusin dahil sa dakilang pag-aalay niya ng buhay, para sa kaligtasan natin kakarampot na lamang ang kanyang hinihiling: Ang mahalin at arugain ang ating kapwa.”

Now of course that bit about sacrificing the way Jesus had could get lost in the assertion of loving each other, but at a time like this the public is not one to miss anything. Certainly not these instances in which we are being implored to do better, to sacrifice more, in the name of nation.

The status quo

What offends about that Lenten message of the President is that it reminds us how different his (and his writers?) notion of nation is compared to the rest of us who actually live in nation, plod through its inefficiencies, feel the government’s lack of caring and compassion, every day.

Because no matter improved credit ratings and economic numbers, our daily life is becoming more and more difficult. We live in fear of being unable to pay our bills, where a privatized service (and basic right) like electricity is about profit and nothing else. We are threatened with impending price hikes, from public transport fares to tuition fees to oil prices.

It’s clear to anyone at all who lives in this country that there is something fundamentally wrong with bus accidents that happen too often, and with the manner in which a government office like the LTFRB can go un-reprimanded for lives endangered, injured, lost.

There is something wrong with a train service like the MRT being questionably and contestably privately owned even when government had allocated P56 billion pesos to buy it from private ownership, and according to Senator Chiz Escudero, it should’ve been easy for government to take over MRT Corporation as early as 2010. Seriously, whose hand is in this pot and why can’t they just fluggin’ cut it off?

There is something wrong when public transport accidents are blamed solely on bus and MRT drivers, as if bus owners did not decide on unjust labor and wage.

One could go on and on. Suffice it to say that this year began with government telling us that we have no choice but to suffer the major road constructions and repairs that will mean heavy traffic in already congested EDSA. It was portents of things to come. It was also telling.

Stinking of 2016

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think that having 15 major road construction and repairs happening all at the same time is a measure of some bad planning and a lack of vision. One that’s suddenly being addressed because we’re only two years away from the President’s final report card and he – and the Liberal Party – have got a lot of catching up to do.

Yes, that’s what it looks like to me. Smells a lot like 2016, many of these decisions we are being told to suffer through.

Yet one can’t help but wonder why all those repairs must be forced into the next two years. Government could’ve started road repairs three years ago, they could’ve done it one by one, the better to accommodate the traffic, the better to lessen the burden on the public.

The truth is this is also about lessened productivity, it’s about the time lost being stuck in traffic or waiting to board the train, the amount of energy lost to waking up earlier than we should just to make sure we get to work on time. This is about public safety and our basic right to transportation.

Ah, but who cares about basic rights? This is a government that told us that we would see K-12’s first Senior High School graduates – the ones who started with Grade 7 in 2012 – in 2018. This means Grade 11 implementation would be in School Year (SY) 2016-2017, and Grade 12 in 2017-2018.

But in November last year, the President suddenly wanted it “fast-tracked,” and Grade 11 implementation was set for SY2015-2016. How else to do that but to have students skip a year, yes? Have them go from Grade 9 to Grade 11 just because? Or have those schools using the old curriculum use the new one? That is, have fourth year high school students using the old curriculum, go through Grades 11 and 12 even when that would be a total waste of time, seeing as they would be forced to learn things they are not prepared for.

I imagine the President need not stop with having students skip one year. Why not skip two? After all, skipping one year is already an injustice, why not skip another year just to make sure that you’ve got Senior High School Graduates to use on your report card at the end of your term? That idea sounds grand, doesn’t it?

Grand suffering

Which I imagine is how the vision of beautiful roads and flyovers in 2016 looks to this government. Grand change, yes? Of course the suffering of the people, the injustice that they have to live with, the toll it takes on their bodies and minds, the unproductivity that this creates, all these are silenced even as this is already what we are living with.
Ah, but with two years left to fill up a report card, and two years to kick off the Liberal Party campaign, who cares about the people.


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  1. I like this article because it focuses on the action of the President not on his person. The columnist has the mental framework of trying to be objective. I just think it went too far when she assumed the motivations of all the construction being done. If Pres. Aquino doesn’t care what his critics say about him, do you really think he cares what is his report card in 2016. I doubt.
    Secondly, shouldn’t people be happy that something is being done about the traffic congestion, I mean all the construction, than nothing is being done? Of course there will be inconvenience when there are road repairs. Anywhere in the world that this happens, inconvenience occurs, but people understand that this construction is temporary inconvenience. This is true even in most advance countries.
    Thirdly to do a good road repair takes time of planning, otherwise, you are going to get a kind of repair that does not solve the problem. That is why you do not get road snap-repair.
    Fourthly, Talk indeed is so easy, but work is much much harder.

  2. Bakit ayaw mong ipamigay ang lupa ng magsasaka kung totoong naniniwala ka sa mga pangaral mo sa mga nasasakupan mo. Kanila naman talaga yon.

  3. They always want the people to suffer. They do very little for the country. In everything they do its about money. You mentioned bus accidents. Apart from bus accidents there are thousands of road accidents a day & not a single person asks why. Now if you made people learn to drive properly, you know take a proper driving test that takes about 1 hour to see if the person is competent enough to drive, you would do a number of things. !st you would create jobs, millions of people would have to take driving lessons so you would have a big expansion in driving schools. Then you have the testers, there would be a huge employment there. It will generate money for the country & it would make the roads safer. Just look at the uk to see how they do it & copy their format as it works. Then you need the police to start implementing the laws everywhere. Let me tell you the lives of ordinary citezens would improve over night. Traffic would run better as people would drive with more courtesy.
    We could go on about the other things another time.