Philippine Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is probably one of the stupidest public servants under the current Aquino government today. Not only is he seemingly incapable of fixing the traffic congestion and the dismal public transport system in the country, he also has a penchant for insulting the intelligence of both motorists and commuters — those who are forced to endure miserable conditions while travelling on the road every day.
Abaya’s latest statement that the expected worsening of traffic conditions (as if it is not bad enough yet) will not be “fatal” was insensitive. It shows his lack of empathy for what millions of Filipinos go through on a daily basis. While he was talking about the chaos that will likely come about from the construction of LRT 2 extension or East Expansion Project affecting people travelling to and from Antipolo, Marikina, Cainta and Pasig areas in particular, members of the general public did not appreciate his remarks nonetheless.
It doesn’t help that Abaya is now very unpopular, so anything he says just makes those annoyed at him want to see him make good on a promise to have himelf run over by a train if he doesn’t fix the MRT problems by 2015. A lot of people have been expecting him to resign years ago and, more importantly, a lot have also been calling on President BS Aquino to fire him for his incompetence. For some bizarre reason, BS Aquino can’t even admonish Abaya the way he admonishes public servants who are not allied with him. It’s no wonder Abaya doesn’t make any apologies for his shortfalls and even goes as far as mocking the people who have no choice but to suck up the wretchedness of the Philippines’ decrepit transport system.
Abaya’s claim that the often snail-paced flow of traffic on Manila roads is not “fatal” was idiotic. Here are the reasons why:
1. Stress caused by traffic is detrimental to people’s health and wellbeing.
You would think that this is a no-brainer but apparently, there is still a need to point out that being stuck in congested traffic on the road can cause stress especially when you are on your way to work or a very important appointment. Exposure to the same situation every day can lead to chronic stress and wreak havoc in a person’s body. To quote Mayo Clinic:
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
Memory and concentration impairment.
2. Prolonged stay on the road exposes people to harmful pollution.
Let’s face it; there are more lead-emitting jeepneys than hybrid vehicles on Philippine roads. This means people’s unnecessary exposure to toxins every day traffic is delayed is bad for the health. Smog, pollution and the overall poor air quality blanketing Metro Manila will increase people’s chances of suffering respiratory problems in the long term. In addition, exposure to lead found in some gasoline blends can lead to all kinds of health problems including loss of developmental skills in children. It’s been said that lead poisoning is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. It’s quite baffling that Transport Secretary Abaya didn’t know this.
3. Being stuck in traffic for hours can result in road rage.
Filipino drivers are already famous for driving on the road like Mad Max or being in “beast mode” over much of their trip. Indeed, the added stress of being stuck in traffic can fuel aggressiveness that can put other people’s lives in danger. Furthermore, dangerous driving can make traffic conditions even worse. This can result in fatalities.
4. Traffic congestion can prevent ambulance drivers and emergency crews from saving lives.
I don’t think this needs explanation. But for Abaya’s sake, I need to reiterate that if the traffic is not moving, it would be impossible for ambulances and emergency crews to reach their destination and do what is necessary to save lives.
5. Being stuck in traffic can lead to loss of livelihood and eventually, death.
There is a limit to the use of the excuse “I was stuck in traffic” before your boss fires you for being late everyday. We are talking about a country where getting a decent job after being fired is not easy. This can lead to all kinds of problems for the individual that can cause depression and possibly suicide.
One doesn’t have to be a genius to realize the adverse consequences resulting from being stuck in traffic. But unfortunately, not only do Filipinos have to deal with it; they also have to deal with a hopeless and arrogant man like Abaya. Now that alone can be fatal.
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