Just what we need. More requests for “patience” and “understanding”. That is what Malacanang beseeches Filipinos to show while the government pays lip service to the decades-long but fruitless effort to “solve” Metro Manila’s infamously hellish traffic.
According to Malacanang mouthpiece Herminio Coloma Jr, the government puts foremost importance in the livelihood of Filipinos and recognises the importance of the health of businesses that are affected by Metro Manila’s horrendous traffic jams. Words like these are small comfort to most Filipinos. Patience they say is a virtue. Thus, if so, Filipinos are likely to be the most virtuous people on the planet.
Traffic hell has long been the bane of the existence of Metro Manila’s hapless residents. It sucks the life out of them — literally. The average Metro Manilan will spend more than 10 years of her life stuck in traffic, the equivalent of a prison term for a murderer. The government’s asking for “patience” and “understanding” is no different to the routine assurance we give many victims of the Philippines’ violent crimes that justice will be served.
We can all but take stock of the sad futility in the government’s limpdicked efforts to “solve” Metro Manila’s traffic mess. U-turn slots, counterflow systems, more roads, more flyovers, truck bans, truck lanes, odd-even schemes, yadda yadda. All of these quaint measures to “solve” traffic are examples of Filipinos’ small-minded approach to solving its problems. Most of these problems are results of failures to anticipate them when there was opportunity to mitigate them. They are a testament to the Filipinos’ world-renowned national affliction: an abject lack of imagination.
It does not take much imagination to see the idiocy in the way land public transport routes have been managed by the Philippine government. These have all been doled out willy-nilly to two-bit bus and jeepney operators — probably in exchange for gratuitous “commissions” these operators were happy to fork out to officials. Why do you need to build a new room in your house if all you need to do to get back some personal space is to kick out mooching relatives camped in your pad rent-free while they “look for a job” — for the 20th year and counting?
Indeed, the thinking that goes on in the pointed heads of the Philippines’ bright boys goes something like this:
We need to build more roads so that buses and jeeps can continue hogging three lanes in major highways when loading and unloading their passengers.
You know your government is bullshitting you when it does nothing to address the obvious solutions and instead chooses to spend tens of millions of dollars on “projects” that are nothing more than temporary workarounds. And that, essentially, is what the Philippines is, a massive temporary solution on a national scale — the outcome of lots of small-minded “actions” underpinned by very little thinking.
Indeed, the jugular of the vast urban cancer that is comprised of private bus and jeepney operators laying waste to the Philippines’ premiere metropolis lies in just two points — (1) the vehicle registration process and (2) the public route franchise licensing process. The government has full control of both of those lifelines to the bus-and-jeepney cancer that is holding Metro Manila hostage. It can shut down any further issuance of licenses to these operators — tomorrow.
Of course, that solution is just too obvious. There’s billions of pesos to be spent on “infrastructure projects” and billions more to be skimmed off that and diverted to officials’ “preferred” contractors and NGOs. To the typical thieving government official, the obvious solutions simply don’t make business sense — which is why Filipinos shouldn’t hold their breath. The investment in “patience” and “understanding” the government is asking them to make will yield ZERO return. The system is rigged to fail Filipinos by design.
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