The “increase in population” that has been made the excuse du jour of Malacanang to wash its hands off the appalling mass transport crisis paralysing Metro Manila today is something that the government cannot absolve itself of any responsibility for. Facing mounting calls for the head of Al Vitangcol General Manager of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) coming from fed-up Manila commuters, Malacanang has lashed out in its usual sorry-not-our-fault fashion…
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma rejected demands that President Aquino sack Vitangcol for worsening conditions at the MRT.
Coloma insisted that the congestion at MRT stations “comes from the natural increase in population and the propensity of commuters to use a particular mode of public transportation over another.”
“The increase in population, can you blame that on Mr. Vitangcol?” a visibly irked Coloma asked in Filipino in a press conference. “It seems a bit overreaching to blame everything on one official.”
Coloma did not like the idea of disgruntled commuters staging a rally and asking for Vitangcol’s head.
But Filipino politicians often ask themselves “What are we in power for?” Indeed, with power comes great responsibility. When the administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III took over the Philippine government’s reins, it also took on the burden of responsibility for fixing the mess left behind by its predecessors. That, after all, is the kernel of the stuff of election campaigns — promises to set things straight. By signing up for the job, you get exactly what you signed up for — The Job!
Not only has Metro Manila’s public transport system failed to maintain a decent level of quality in the services it delivers to Filipinos, successive Philippine governments have all but failed to arrest the embarrassingly high rate of population growth of the nation. Every Filipino born has, on average, proven to be a liability rather than an asset to the Philippine economy, a fact clearly evident for decades. This reality has contributed to the vast problems Metro Manila faces today being, by far, the Philippines’ biggest source of employment and a magnet for the country’s armies of wretched migrant workers.
In short, both problems, (1) the long-evident inadequacy of public transport and (2) the continued multiplying of Filipinos like cockroaches have long been recognised and understood.
There is no excuse for the vast systemic failure we are witnessing today.
Somebody has to take the blame for that.
The trouble with Vitangcol is that he has not only failed, he seemingly hasn’t kept his nose clean while on the job. Vitangcol is currently the subject of a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe over allegations that he extorted $30 million “from a Czech train maker that wanted to join the auction of a contract for 48 new coaches for the MRT in 2012”. Though Vitangcol has been cleared of the charges after a separate Department of Transport and Communications (DOTC) probe, an affidavit issued by Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar pointed at a certain member of BS Aquino’s Liberal Party Wilson de Vera as one who acted as Vitangol’s “envoy” in the racket.
No surprise then why President BS Aquino now fiercely defends the embattled MRT 3 General Manager. Rather than act on the problem, Malacanang prefers to do nothing.
Often people ask us that all-too-familiarly judgmental question: What have you done for your country? A lot of times it is directed to our little team of brilliant writers at GetRealPhilippines.com. For some reason the idea that we write what we write rather than “do something” offends some people who think we ought to be channeling our brilliance to something that “helps” Filipinos rather than squander it on “cheap talk”.
Just as a matter of record, here is what we do:
(1) Provide a framework over which fundamental issues that underpin our sorry inability to prosper can be analysed and communicated in a coherent structure (i.e. the overall GetRealPhilippines.com site).
(2) Develop an architecture for cultural change that serves as an overall landscape that adds perspective and provides context to individual initiatives (such as these “wars” against “corruption” that we keep hearing about from every man and his dog). Refer to our Solution Framework section.
(3) Organise a group of elite world-class lateral thinkers who, together, provide a beacon of clarity across the landscape of a traditionoal but dysfuntional national “debate” that has for the most part of our history subtracted rather than added to the collective intellect of Pinoy society.
(4) Push for a political “debate” over the period leading up to any election that is issues-oriented and grounded on published campaign platforms from each candidate that articulate in categorical terms the specific positions they take on a range of issues. Refer to our brilliant electorate reform campaign Platform, plez™.
A lot of people take “action” but only an elite few really step back to think things through properly and communicate the outcome of said thinking coherently.
And that is what we at GRP do.
People like Vitangcol, the sorts of problems he is trying to face with his Teflon skin, and the way the national government is currently backing him in a vast concerted effort to wash the grime that makes up the character of the nation it is trying to govern off itself — these are all products of a collective and profound failure in Philippine society to think its way through the many challenges it faces. This is because the national “debate” focuses on all the wrong things, stumbling from one problem to another, from one government to another, and from one personality to another without crystallising a consistent strategic vision that transcends governments, people, and problems such as this MRT-3 fiasco.
It’s time a Philippine government come to the fore and take real responsibility for the Philippines’ many issues. And it is time Filipinos take responsibility for the power they have in their hands to elect real leaders for a change.
[Photo courtesy veooz.com.]
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