The No Single Driver rule. It’s the bane of the miniscule minority of Filipino private motorists who can afford to tool around Metro Manila alone in their own personal cars. With the implementation today of this rule along EDSA today, one can expect only a small proportion of EDSA users to be up in arms. This would be the chi-chi community of privileged brats who think nothing of occupying five times their fair share of Manila’s road space (seven or eight even if they happen to be driving solo in one of those monster SUVs).
For the majority of Metro Manila’s commuting community, it will be sweet vindication. Public transport users are a true community. They share common facilities and take up space that is just right for their needs and no more. This is where we will be seeing whether the Philippines’ village-raised nun-educated “social justice warriors” (SJWs) are able to walk their talk when it comes to being true participants in efforts to build a just and egalitarian society. Thus it will be worth watching what the noisiest among these SJWs will be saying on the social media posts they will be tapping off their iPads while sipping their 200-peso lattes at the local Starbucks.
More importantly, it will be a test of the authenticity of the rhetoric spewed by the Philippines’ army of politicians and talking heads. Back several years I posed the question, How can Metro Manila ever improve if Filipino politicians do not take public transport?
Any baboon can make like a traffic cop or a palengkero for the 15 minutes it takes to produce a campaign video. But if Filipino politicians want to demonstrate how serious they are about improving the lot of ordinary Filipinos who, as part of their day-to-day lives, suffer the results of decades of government mismanagement, they should show Filipinos that they can take personal accountability for the idiocy of the government they want to be officers of.
What better way to demonstrate that resolve to fix Metro Manila and, by extension, the rest of the country than by living like real Filipinos for a duration that actually hurts? Indeed, a fat politician squeezing himself into an MRT or a jeepney will hurt — perhaps for the two years they will “sacrifice” to deserve the Filipino vote. Nonetheless, that “sacrifice” is really none such from the perspective of ordinary Filipinos who put up with the appalling conditions Metro Manila subjects them to everyday 365 days a year for much of their entire lives.
If we can make this call to our politicians then, certainly, we can make an identical call to those SJWs, social media “influencers”, and the sunshines among the country’s top “thought leaders” to step up to the same challenge. It does not have to be that hard. The rule, after all, involves just a prescribed number of vehicle occupants within small timeslots over just several days in every week. Surely Filipinos who routinely pepper their rhetoric with the words “sacrifice” and “resilience” are up to the task.
Rich people, however, have a wealth of resources to employ to the game of circumventing this and other such rules. Those who employ chauffeurs, for example, get away scot-free. Many are already, as I write this, fashioning dummies and mannequins into faux passengers to keep them company in their precious Subarus. Other more enterprising bozos plan to make a killing importing and selling these dummies to these folks. It is in this light that there is a need for Filipinos who plan to contribute their share to this initiative to be vigilant. For the Philippines to become a truly just society, small acts of fairness need to be ingrained in the Filipino psyche.
One can debate the pros and cons of the new No Single Driver Rule on EDSA ’til kingdom come. But those who focus on that are likely to be those who fail to see the bigger point — that those who are the most adversely-impacted by this initiative — motorists who routinely drive solo in big cars — are the ones who have the least right to complain. It’s time Filipinos realise that the true measure of a great society is how much its most privileged citizens are willing to contribute to the uplift of public space and to use this public space fairly with the greater public.
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