Metro Rail Transit crisis gripping Manila a result of long-term failure in thinking

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.

Massive queue of commuters hoping to get a ride on Manila's MRT

Massive queue of commuters hoping to get a ride on Manila’s MRT

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!

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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 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 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]

16 Replies to “Metro Rail Transit crisis gripping Manila a result of long-term failure in thinking”

  1. People get the government they deserve.

    But I with those people had consideration for me. I want this thing fixed. Once I get a regular job, I don’t want to slog through traffic that makes just going to and fro the office a waste of time. But them a guess, we have an administration that loves to do nothing.

      1. I remember waiting 2 hours for the next LRT train to arrive few times when I was in college. It was very stressful. I even lost a wrist watch from struggle to get into the train because I was very late for class.

        I visited the Philippines last summer. I met with a college friend and we were waiting for her husband to arrive but it took him so long. His excuses was the MRT line was long.

        Anyway, I agree with you. If we have reliable public transportation, we will have more time for our family and friends. People might take on hobbies. There will be an increase in creativity. And maybe, someday, someone from the Philippines will invent or discover something that would change the world for the better.

        1. not only time with family and friends. this is productivity.
          people go to work. imagine your work starts at 8am. dadating ka 9am sa work. you lost 1 hour of productivity. how many workers are suffering? isama mo na ung trapik congestion sa edsa. it was around 2.6 billion pesos ang nawawala araw-araw because of this problem.
          metro manila is an urban city gone wrong. and centralized din kasi unitary system eh.

  2. What you elect is what you get…the nation elected for someone with no real experience to lead a nation, then the government washes its hands on something they can do.

    The only thing I did for my country was to vote for someone other than an “ampaw.” We had a chance to change this country 4 years ago and look where we are now.

    I laugh at people who think the country has improved since Noynoy became president. They can’t even answer my question why so many people are getting poorer.

  3. Aaaah, fuck it. I have given up on the Philippines. There is really no more hope and I can hear the fat lady singing. The incompetence, shamelessness, stupidity, corruption, arrogance and general ignorance have reaches unparalleled heights. Let’s burn this sucker down and start from scratch!

  4. Since dickhead became president mrt has fallen apart at the seams, the way it has been neglected is nothing short of economic sabotage.

    The escalator leading up to Ayala mrt station was out of service for more than 2 years (is it still working this week? input please)

    They have had 4 years to sort the problem out and they have done absolutely nothing, now they talk about new trains arriving in 2016 which we all know is pie in the sky.

    Give it another few years of neglect and mrt will grind to a permanent halt.

    Manila home to the world’s worst airport and a good chance for winning the world’s worst mrt

    1. You are so correct @Yawn, Economic Sabotage ang ginagawa ng Kultong Dilaw para mas lalong mahirapan ang mga Pinoy. Mga walang budhi, ibunulsa na nila ang limpak na salapi galing sa National Budget pati yung Foreign donations para sa mga biktima ng kalamidad hindi rin pinaligtas. Ang asal nilang yan ay masahol pa sa Dimonyo.

  5. We GRP Bloggers, do our part…some are good, some are medium good, some are just paid hacks of Aquino…contributing their Ignorance to the subject discussions in this website.

    While most industrialized countries are using: Magnetic Levitation trains or “bullet trains”. We cannot even manufacture an 18th century Train Coach…those involved in the bidding are even exacting their usual percentage commissions. And Aquino is protecting these Crooks. Maybe, Aquino also has a percentage commission on the project.

    The Czech Ambassador even lodge a complaint. What did Aquino do? Nothing!!!

    This is the reason graft and corruption is prevalent in our country. Our government is rotten to the core…from the bottom to the top…

    Ang Daan Matuwid ay diretso na sa Bulsa!!!

    1. a bunch of thieves. Actually it is an ‘institutionalized organized crime syndicate’, u kno…might as well be accurate when labelling something,eh?

  6. The Philippines was one of the last countries I visited when travelling in South East Asia. I always travelled on a budget and tried to do things like the locals, but I only rode on the MRT for one day, I couldn’t handle it.

    I hope Filipinos realise that when foreigners complain about various aspects of their country, we’re not just comparing it to the developed West, but to your Asian neighbours who’ve somehow managed to get their shit together with a much weaker start in life than this decaying nation.

    1. Dave,

      You kind of mentioned words that Filipinos don’t like being used on them: complain and compare.

      You do realize that when you do these two actions in a manner directed at Filipinos, you puncture their sense of self-worth and their ego.

      Filipinos want to be a great country, but they don’t want to be a better country. It’s puzzling and infuriating.

  7. The selfie propaganda have a devastating effects. The yellow govt. are too busy with their selfie propaganda that they have neglected and forgotten their obligations to the public.

    “When you trivialize something, you make it seem less important or complex than it really is.”

    “Examine (news , book, film, etc.) and suppress unacceptable parts considered offensive or a threat to security”.

    Our Media (TV & radio) news tends to trivialize important social/political stories (issues/problems/concerns). They tends to diminish the great significance to our lives or dismisses them as being too small to fret about. It make people not feel like PNoy (government) is not taking seriously.

    If you trivialize the health concerns of the Philippines, our people might not realize how sick our nation has become. When you trivialize an issue, you make it look more trivial than it is, or less significant.

    “Our Media has a social responsibility to make Philippines/World a better place by seeking TRUTH / JUSTICE, promoting/influence an intellect society and leave a positive impact on our people. And not just pursue profit from politicians or news maker at the expense of making our people dumb or brainwashed.” – Dale Gozar

    “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” by Malcolm X

    “Whoever controls media controls the mind” – Jim Morrison

    “They must find it difficult, those who have taken Authority as Truth, rather than Truth as Authority.”
    -Gerald Massey

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