Pork is Cheap in Bahana Republic

I seem to be part of the lucky few in my city where 15 out of 18 barangays are submerged in water after a continuous downpour of ‘Maring’. The great revelation in all of this is that floodwaters always have a way of bringing all things to the surface. It is a trite simile of our country’s real condition that always seems to be swept under the rug of glaring reports and soaring economic highlights. The brilliant lights of rising credit ratings caused by the showing of a faux veneer of good governance is now being washed away by the tides of reality. Our fellow Filipinos are literally waist deep in it as we speak. We are wading through the trash that we are forced to live with, a bitter reminder of who the ultimate victims are. Has the past three years all been a show or does the administration rather have us swallow the trash that’s being dished out at us everyday?

It is easy to surmise that the better of us are high and dry in their air-conditioned rooms overlooking the submerged neighborhoods where they do not live. They probably have the means to go grocery shopping with the kids and their yayas and bodyguards in their gas guzzling convoy of SUVs. They casually walk up to the VIP lanes in checkout counter paying for their carts loads not by cash nor by credit card, but by personal check! I’ve personally witnessed a former actress turned congresswoman (married to an actor turned senator) do this impressive stunt in plain sight not too long ago. No “wang-wangs” needed here! The simple wafting of their entourage splits the crowd as they are gracefully escorted with two rows of umbrellas back into their SUVs. This is the promised “Daan na Matuwid”, a leveling of paths for those in power, a presidential cladding for those who are closest to Malacañang. Three floods and three years later, not much has changed, people have just gotten angrier and we’re still waist-deep in floodwater! The poor and unemployed have gotten poorer, the filthy rich get even filthier and our politicians are getting even more enriched with pork around their bellies! Apparently it’s not only their bellies and wallets that are getting thicker, but their faces as well. They do it so well that perhaps they should have an accreditation for acting too! Pork is certainly cheap in the Philippines. P10B of it is just floating around in what my colleague Paul Farol calls: “The Bahana Republic”.

Beyond the obvious puns, the condition in the Philippines is no laughing matter especially to the President. His leadership and credibility is now seriously at the stakes! The specter of cronyism is being brought to light. The KKK, the oligopolies and the vested interests that seem to have a strong grip of influence upon our dear president are now being exposed. The credit ratings that we have tried to gain over the years is now in danger of slipping due to realizations of old oligopolistic structures at the economy’s core. The beneficiaries of PDAF who are seen close to the President and the bloating of its budget are showing the “Daan na Matuwid” as a charade! “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”. Mr. President I believed you! Now is the time to rise up to the plate or else you have another flood coming on August 26 in Luneta!

MMDA’s Proposed Ban and Bane

People are outraged by MMDA’s proposed number coding scheme that is set to ban vehicles plying EDSA for two days instead of one. While the movement seems like a legitimate effort to curb vehicle volume, perhaps the same has not been well thought and apparently costing the administration some points especially with the upcoming SONA. The poor timing does not come as a surprise as people have been well acquainted with the chairman’s pomposity made public in his recent displays in the “Hell’s Gate” issue. The truth of the matter is EDSA is a Hot Gate for motorists and is an expected choke point for Metro Manila’s motorists. While our chairman is obviously in denial of Metro Manila’s hellish conditions, anyone plying through Metro Manila’s main thoroughfares is no stranger to its pervasive lawlessness and displays of human misery. Corruption still prevails as well as the abuse of the strong versus the weak and helpless. In recent days netizens desperately tried to make their point by posting photos of buses holding up traffic at the expense of the common motorist. The problems are obvious however it seems like the middleclass is always expected to bear the weight of inconveniences and losses in productivity.

Early during the onset of the administration, the same middleclass that rallied in support of the “daan na matuwid” lauded at the ideas and promises especially those made by the newly appointed chairman. If memory serves me right, some of these ideas are now being recollected. Some of these include: Banning regional buses along EDSA and getting buses off the quota system. Enforcing the bus lanes and impounding colorums are just stopgap measures that span across administrations and often used to appease the public ad hoc. Certainly there is no sustainability in the latter and it takes a lot of political will to achieve the former. Apparently, nothing has changed and the promised political will remains to be an illusion. Ironically, “Daan na matuwid” could not even keep the buses in their own lanes.

The problem is obviously systemic. Transportation operators are organized and have a huge leverage over our politicians. Our public transportation system is inadequate and remains riddled with allegations of corruption to this very day. While the administration dares to present the traffic problem as a sign of progress, millions of Pesos are lost daily due to losses in productivity caused by traffic and an inefficient public transportation system. The new number coding scheme is certainly a bane to the middleclass but do they really have a choice? The middleclass who is overly taxed and overly charged with the rising cost of petrol, tolls and poor roads continues to be the whipping boy of government, big business and the entitled poor. One thing I do ask of the administration is for them to stop lying to us. The middleclass has had enough!