So. How are you today? How are you coping with the events of the past few days? Tiring, no? Kapit lang.

In a democracy, dissent is essential. We have designed our democratic project so that the government will serve the people, and the people will hold its leaders accountable for every government action. It is the primary duty of the citizen to remind the leaders of government of its sworn duty to uphold the Constitution and protect the people. Once the government violates its sworn duty, once it treats its citizens like excrement, once the government turns against the sovereign people, it is the primary duty of the citizen to resist.

Under a representative form of government, we elect people to be our representatives, to wield enormous powers in our behalf. We have enshrined safeguards in the exercise of such enormous powers, and once our representatives misuse that power, it is our duty to inform them and express our displeasure and opposition. They act in our behalf; if they are not acting for our benefit, they should be rebuked.

How can we ordinary citizens express our displeasure with the acts and words of our elected representatives? There are simple actions that you can do, but these actions require courage on your part. Because if your elected representative is evil, he or she will get back at you if you manage to get his ire. That’s the kind of mentality each poor citizen is facing when confronting the evil of elected leaders who are intoxicated with power. You need courage. You need to start confronting that evil. How?

  • Contact your barangay leaders. They normally have regular contacts with your mayors and congressmen. Tell them how you feel on issues and comment on the stand of your mayor or congressman on the issues of the day. If you want, you can ask them to accompany you to the offices of the mayor, vice mayor, and councilors so that you can talk to them personally. You might need to set an appointment.
  • Contact your elected representative. See below.
  • Contact the senators you most disagree with. Most of them are online on Facebook and Twitter. Based on experience and cursory look at their timelines, though, most of them do not take kindly to criticisms. Watch your words, be respectful but make sure you stand your ground and make your opinion heard loud and clear.
  • Contact your elected senators and representatives the old fashioned way – by calling their offices. You can fax them if you feel that’s more effective. Contact numbers for senators are here. Search for your congressman here, then click on the name to find the contact details. Most of them are not Internet savvy, so old fashioned calling you do. Or, see next item.
  • You can also try visiting your congressman’s district office. Take note that he or she may not be in the office most of the time, but the staff might be helpful. You’ll be surprised if they accommodate you, though. Who knows.
  • You can contact the Office of the Vice President here. Maybe you can also set an appointment so that you can meet Vice President Leni Robredo personally. I suggest you go in a group for maximum effect. You can also contact them through the OVP social media accounts.
  • As for the Office of the President – tough luck. Your best bet is through the Presidential Communications Office. Here’s the contact information. You can also contact them through social media, but I suggest not bothering with their personal accounts – see above regarding onion skinned senators.

If communicating (or attempting to communicate) with them fails for whatever reason (most likely ignoring you, as most of them do after elections), what can you do next? That’s for the next post.


On leadership and platforms and Mar Roxas

Mar and LeniThe buzzword from the last presidential debate was leadership. It resonated for some viewers and listeners. A few were impressed – it was strong and simple.

But what is leadership?

In plain terms, leadership is one’s ability to lead or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. In transformational leadership, a leader:

  1. Creates the vision.
  2. Inspires the people to move towards that vision.
  3. Provides the information, knowledge, and method to realize that vision.
  4. Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.

A leader provides a vision. A candidate should show us what he thinks our country should be in the next six years. What is Mar Roxas’ vision? He articulated his vision during the first debate as:

Bakit ko gusto maging pangulo? Dahil gusto ko maging ganito din ang buhay nyo: malaya sa gutom, malaya sa takot, at malayang mangarap.


He further refined his vision in the second debate:

Dapat natin ipaglaban ang Daang Matuwid, kung may kulang, pupunuan; kung may mali, itama natin; para dito sa ating bansa tuluyan na makapamuhay tayo kung saan nagtatagumpay ang disente.


How does a candidate plan to achieve that vision?

This is what a campaign platform answers. What is a platform? Merriam Webster defines platform as:

a declaration of the principles on which a group of persons stands; especially :  a declaration of principles and policies adopted by a political party or a candidate

It is usually a list of principles, values, or actions that a political party or a candidate adopts. Basically, it enumerates how the vision is to be achieved. It is a covenant with the public – a binding agreement that a party or candidate is willing to be held accountable for. It is a powerful document, almost sacred. No wonder a lot of candidates are unwilling to provide concrete and detailed platforms – they are unwilling to be held accountable.

Roxas Robredo PlatformMar Roxas and Leni Robredo are willing to be held accountable through their platform – Ang Panata sa Pamilyang Pilipino. Only Roxas and Robredo have a specific and detailed platform among the candidates – a proof that they are sincere in coming up with plans and on acting on them when they get elected.

A leader who has no plan will just bluster and say what the choir wants to hear, for he has nothing substantial to say. It betrays a lack of knowledge of what ails this country. It shows a bankruptcy of creativity in solving this country’s problems. A fake leader fakes it.

We don’t need a fake leader. Mar Roxas is a real leader. He has a plan on how to create jobs. He has solutions to help solve the country’s problems.

A leader inspires his people to achieve his vision. People will flock to a leader who inspires them to do good. They will find a leader that will inspire to achieve common goals. People will gravitate to an inspirational leader to lead them on a journey towards a common vision.

Bayang Matuwid

Mar at Caloocan

A leader assembles a good team, composed of competent people who can be trusted to accomplish what needs to be done to achieve the vision. Most of the people behind Mar’s campaign are decent and trustworthy.

A true leader has a good vision, he only thinks of what is good for the country. A true leader has a good plan – they go together – on how to reach that vision. A true leader inspires his followers to do their best to achieve his vision, together. A true leader assembles a good team, each capable of helping achieve his vision.

So, as I said days ago:

We need a true leader, and that leader is Mar Roxas.



On komiks and brick games and pocketbooks

When I was in high school (way back decades ago *sigh*), it was the time when Luzon was suffering from lack of electricity. No electricity for hours, as long as 12 hours every day. So most of our time there was no electricity. No electricity meant no radio and no TV. We sought different forms of entertainment then.

My mom used to buy read komiks from the palengke at Blumentritt. I remember some of the titles like Aliwan and Wakasan. Every Friday, I bought Pilipino Funny Komiks (for Combatron, mostly). When I was in my first year, my values education teacher called me Zarbot, an android character from the serial comic novel of the same name, just because my name sounded like Zarbot. Zarbot appeared in Aliwan, and his claim to fame was that he’s prolly one of the most sexually active robot characters out there.

Most of the komiks back then are collections of serialized comic novels, stories being continued on the next issue. Komiks were released regularly, mostly weekly. I had to wait weeks for the next issues, because my mom did not buy them regularly. During Saturdays, I always waited for my mom from her palengke run, hoping she bought komiks. And when she did, I read them immediately, and lagi akong napipingot sa tenga because inuna ko pang basahin yung komiks instead na ayusin yung pinamili nya.

Love stories were the most common serialized novels in komiks. Inevitably, there were love scenes, but mostly not explicit. For explicit ones, there were bomba komiks as well – yep, komiks were for porn, as well. I’d seen an issue or two. My mom obviously did not buy them, but as any male teenager would tell you, we have ways. *wink wink*

Aside from komiks, my mom also bought pocketbooks. Some of these local pocketbooks were thin volumes, stapled instead of bound, with glossy cover. They were mostly love stories. I remember reading them on our stairs, malapit kasi sa bintana kaya maliwanag at pwede magbasa. She kept these komiks and pocketbooks at the eskaparate where bread and biscuits were kept.

Of course, there were porn pocketbooks. *wink wink*

And nobody of my age would have escaped the phenomenon called brick games. These were handheld devices with monochrome displays, powered by AA batteries. They all were variations of the classic Tetris game by Nintendo. Pag may Game Boy ka that time, mayaman ka. Eh since di lahat can afford magka Game Boy, ayun, bumenta ang brick games. The more games in a handheld, the more na sikat ka. Eh 4 kaming magkakapatid so imagine the chaos – agawan eh. Di uso sa amin ang time sharing haha.

So yeah. Internet at that time was almost non-existent, and mobile phones were too large to be called mobile. And since there was not enough electricity back then, TV and radio time were limited. Bihira pa portable radios nun, madalas pa AM band lang. Saka magastos sa battery. So we were left with komiks and pocketbooks and brickgames for distraction and entertainment.

I don’t get the fuzz re: komiks right now. I guess it isn’t an upper class thing.


A shift away from personality-oriented politics

… is not forthcoming in this election period.

The campaign period for national posts has started, and from the way most of the candidates launched their campaigns, this is not an issues-centered campaign.

For example, Grace Poe was criticized for being dramatic, and decided that she should start her campaign by being dramatic:

Drama nga siguro ang tawag nila dito subalit realidad at tunay na buhay ko ito… katotohanan ito na araw araw pinagdadaanan ng marami sa ating mga kababayan.

She tried tying up the drama of her life with the life of ordinary Filipinos. This kinda fell flat, as her life’s not ordinary. After all, we ordinary Filipinos do not get to be adopted by the King of Philippine Movies, nor get an American citizenship, nor have children that can afford expensive/fake pair of shoes that costs more than half of what a minimum wage earner gets in a month. Her campaign has yet to release its platform of government. Or maybe her 20-item bullet list mentioned when she declared her bid is it.

Poe launched her campaign at Plaza Miranda, causing heavy traffic in the busy area of Quiapo. Ironic for someone who keeps on harping about traffic.

Jejomar Binay launched his campaign in the busiest street in Mandaluyong, also causing traffic. For those who haven’t been keeping watch, he did not launch his campaign in his bailiwick in Makati because for the first time in decades, no Binay is sitting in Makati City Hall. While Binay outlined what he wants to do if elected president, his campaign has yet to release specifics and how he plans to achieve his planned goals. He still has to explain how he got rich.


Rodrigo Duterte launched his campaign in Tondo, but not in the most depressed area of Tondo, which is in Baseco. He outlined his platform in a press conference held before he faced the crowds in Tondo. Like the other two candidates, Duterte has yet to release his detailed platform. His antics at the start and immediately after the launch (hell, even prior) are prime examples of what an issues-based campaign is not. He seems to be fixated with another candidate, alleging that the candidate is not a Wharton alumni (only to be proven to be incorrect). Recently Duterte questioned this candidate’s manhood, alleging that he is uncut (uncircumcised, circumcision being a sign of antiquated machismo-Spain era manhood).

The Philippine social media follows Philippine politics. Candidates have released their platforms, and one of them has the most comprehensive so far. There’s a dearth of discussion on platforms, and I guess netizens can’t be blamed, as there is nothing much to discuss. However, the toxicity of personality-based politics permeates Philippine social media. And we’re hoping for a discussion on issues? If our candidates are unwilling to do so, what is there for us ordinary Pinoys to discuss? We are left with one candidate’s fixation on another candidate’s manhood.


Downgrading the quality of public discourse

A few months ago, an article by a journalist led me to write about changing the way we discuss issues by veering away from personality-oriented politics.

Elevating the quality of public discourse

At that time I argued that we should discuss issues that are facing the country, and what are the candidates’ plans to address these issues. There hasn’t been much change since then. Senator Grace Poe was busy with all the disqualification cases filed against her (both in the Senate Electoral Tribunal and Comelec), and if she had time to share her vision, she made mostly motherhood statements and nothing concrete. She and Senator Chiz Escudero have yet to unveil their complete platform. Recently, she’s been conflating her case as a case against foundlings and OFWs, something that is clearly an appeal to emotions, a fallacy that attempts to subtly (or not) hide the residency eligibility problem that she’s facing.

Vice President Jejomar Binay is busy going around the country to campaign and activate his local network (painstakingly cultivated since his years as mayor of Makati through the sister city program) while ignoring his corruption cases. It is a move praised by some self-declared “unbiased” political analysts, as keeping his silence means he is largely ignored by the news organizations, leading the people to forget that the vice president has pending corruption cases.

Senator Miriam Santiago is rarely seen and heard.

Former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is also busy touring the country alone or together with Liberal Party candidate for Vice President Representative Leni Robredo. There isn’t much criticism of Roxas’ plans as president except on his stance on DICT. Much criticism on Roxas are on… him lying on an ice block, eating on a mug, saying “istip by istip” instead of “step by step” in a forum in Cebu.

Yep, still personality-oriented politics.

Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement of his candidacy for the position of president further lowered the quality of public discourse.

The social media milieu prior to his candidacy was already close to toxic levels, but the entry of Duterte unleashed a congress of angry and hard headed fanatics who, imitating their idol unleashed coarse, uncouth, and terrifyingly threatening messages on hapless people who dared oppose Duterte’s candidacy. The sheer idiocy of some of the supporters led to a social media of demagoguery and stupidity.

Duterte contributed to this malaise by calling into question Roxas’ Wharton degree. The resulting conflagration was unfortunate. The sheer ignorance of both so-called social and political elites and the poor masses was astoundingly shocking, and I am being charitable about this observation. It led to Roxas taking on the slapping challenge, with Duterte daring to call for a gun duel only to back down (when it was pointed out that challenging someone to a gun duel is actually a crime). Duterte then said he is ready for a debate, and Roxas challenged him, only for Duterte to retort that number 4 cannot challenge a number 1 in the surveys (the recent surveys showed Duterte as number 3 or 4, so the retort was rather flat and weak).

That’s just one recent example. Heaven knows how bad it will be when the campaign period starts.

We as a people have a choice – we can discuss the candidates’ plans for the country or discuss how ugly a candidate’s face is. If we want an end to personality-oriented politics, we must want it hard. We support a candidate for his or her plans and vision, not because he or she is charismatic or for orphans or tough-acting. Otherwise, by all means engage in stupidity – and don’t blame us if in the end we end up in the figurative “kangkungan.” After all, that’s where pigs wallow with glee.


Duterte and the Constitution: a contradiction

The word “Constitution” is being bandied about these past few days, no thanks to the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s decision regarding Grace Poe’s citizenship and Rodrigo Duterte’s reaction to the said decision.

But what is a Constitution?

Duhaime.org defines constitution as:

The basic, fundamental law of a state which sets out how that state will be organized and the powers and authorities of government between different political units and citizens.

It is basically an agreement between citizens of a state on how the government is organized, its powers, and how it relates to its citizens. Basically all actions of the government – executive actions, legislations passed, decisions promulgated by the courts – are governed by the Constitution.

The same Constitution (in our case, the 1986 Constitution, a written document; not all constitutions are in written form, the United Kingdom, for example, doesn’t have a written constitution) also includes a list of guaranteed rights of citizens called the Bill of Rights. Basically, the government cannot act, cannot legislate, and cannot make decisions that will violate any of the rights listed in the Bill of Rights.

So basically, Duterte is correct:


Photo from ABS-CBNnews.com FB page


From The Philippine Electoral Almanac http://pcdspo.gov.ph/pub/201305may-election-almanac.php

But. Here’s the problem. The people had ratified the Constitution and its entire content, meaning we agreed on everything that is stated in the Constitution. You cannot take a part of it and disregard the others that you don’t like or does not conform with your beliefs. It just doesn’t work that way.

You take it as it is, or you have it amended through the means stated in Article 17. (I wish you luck; there has never been a successful amendment since the Constitution was ratified.)

So, the Bill of Rights. It is Article 3, with 22 sections. The first one is the most paramount:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

It is a very powerful provision: no one, not even the government can kill you, can detain you, or take away your property without you undergoing due process. Meaning, before the government can do anything against you, it “must follow fair procedures.” There will be investigation, you will be informed of the case against you, you can defend yourself before a court of law, and the court will decide based on evidence.

That’s how it is supposed to work. We have assented to the Constitution, and we promised to abide by it.

So: there simply has no place for extra-judicial killings in this country under the Constitution. If a candidate makes a bold claim that there is no messing up with the Constitution yet advocates killing suspects without due process, that candidate is paying lip service only. If  a candidate admits links to a death squad, he is actually violating the Constitution.

The Constitution is the fundamental law of the land. There is no middle ground in compliance. There is no compromising the Constitution.

(Originally posted as a Facebook Note.)


Scorecard, forum for candidates for presidency, 2016

This table shows all the fora that candidates for the presidency in the 2016 elections attended or not attended. I will update this table when new fora are held. See the description for the symbols below the table.

Philippine Business Conference and Expo

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry

October 27, 2015, SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
Mega Cebu and Caucus of Development (CODE-NGO)
November 13, 2015, Center for the Performing Arts, University of San Jose - Recoletos, Cebu City
Meet Your Candidates

November 25, 2015, Manila Polo Club, Makati City

☑ Present
☟ Declined but attended at last minute
❌ Absent/Declined
▬ Not yet a candidate at the time of forum


#APECted: A reflection

APEC_Philippines_2015By this afternoon, the last head of state has left the Philippines, and President Aquino will be on his way to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to attend this year’s ASEAN Summit. The National Capital Region will go back to normal – heavy traffic; air, Internet, and noise pollution; the usual stuff. We gave a positive impression to the APEC delegates, but I am sure they know all the negative reactions online, which is normal to these heads of state/government (who have their own share of detractors and get negative comments daily).

Right now, the question we all have is: now what? What did we gain from five days of hardship, inconvenience, and sacrifice?

The economic benefits will not be immediate, it will take time. We can hope that we have impressed businessmen with our potential for growth, and hopefully this good impression will lead to more investments that will bring inclusive growth. That’s why it was important we put our best foot forward (so to speak).

apec-highlights-aquino-trudeauImage from The Philippine Star (http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/11/19/1523689/5-main-points-2015-apec-declaration-manila)

We have also proven that given the circumstances, we can host an international event. The choice of Metro Manila as host had been questioned throughout the week, and even the Php 10B budget was debated. In the end, it was obvious that only Metro Manila has the resources and venues and – yes – infrastructure (even inadequate, but adequate as compared to other cities) to host more than 10,000 heads of state/governement, delegates, businessmen, and visitors.

I am also glad to see that some people finally see the importance of giving more resources and making investments in growing other cities and municipalities. It is high time we end the concept of Imperial Manila (unlike Grace Poe), and give other cities the chance to improve and make themselves equal if not better than the capital region. Let us hope our local leaders will invest time and resources in urban planning so that they won’t repeat the mistakes of the capital region: lack of open spaces, emphasis on car ownership over public transport, priority on relocating the urban poor somewhere else instead of in-city relocation, among others.

Speaking of public transport: using those viral photos of EDSA wherein one side was full of vehicles while the APEC lane was empty, some people realized that a bus rapid transit might be a good solution to our transport problems. I like the idea, but like what Mar Roxas said, first our bus franchising system has to go. Let’s have all ideas put on the table and propose solutions, not shoot them down without even studying the proposals, which is what Chiz Escudero did.

trapikPhoto from Top Gear (https://www.facebook.com/topgearphilippines/photos/a.147830941930649.28745.110345575679186/993110967402638/?type=3&permPage=1)<

Finally, someone at Facebook said that we need to change our mindset, and I agree. I am glad that many people have reflected on the events of the past few days, analyzing what’s wrong, making suggestions, and acting instead of just whining. I am heartened to see social media posts of appreciation and gratitude towards those who had sacrificed and done their jobs so that this APEC hosting is more than just successful.

What surprised me, though, is the manifestation in change of mindset: people realizing the implications of this APEC hosting and APEC in general. Sure, we whined and whined but I am glad that energy was later channeled towards an understanding of what’s at stake, that sacrifices had to be made, and hoping that life will improve in the process.

Change in mindset: I hope it has began. I am hopeful that with a change in mindset, we’ll have a better discussion on issues and platforms. I am cautiously hopeful, as we tend to shoot ourselves in the foot, but hopeful still that we’ll make the right choice in next year’s elections.

(Originally published as a Facebook Note.)


On discipline

I’ve been hearing and reading the word “discipline” these past few days, online and offline, due to a certain politician down south seemingly throwing his hat into the ring called presidential elections. The way the word is carelessly bandied nowadays reminds me of this Facebook post saying that we need a change of mindset. Allow me to say that discipline is a mindset, and as such discipline is personal.

The Philippine social media is full of rants about laws being violated and rules not being followed; that there is a general breakdown in discipline and we need a leader who’d whip us into shape. I’ve “theorized” that we Filipinos are like Jews waiting for a messiah, that we Filipinos have serious daddy issues; these are the only explanations that I can think of regarding this “clamor” for a tough leader.

Change in mindset. What is there to change?

As I’ve said, I believe discipline is a mindset, and it is personal. Self-discipline is the key, but as every retreat master, psychotherapist, educator, and correction officer will tell you, it is hard. Ask someone who, through hard work and self-discipline lost a significant amount of body weight. Ask someone who, through diligent studies passed the board exams. Ask someone who, through tremendous self-control has stopped smoking.

So, it is hard. It is tough. We know at one point in our life we tried changing something in ourselves, but failed. And failed. And failed. And because we failed, we stopped. We become lazy.

We become lazy. We cross the street even if there is a pedestrian overpass. We throw our cigarette butts everywhere just because. And heaven knows in what multitude of ways we manifest our laziness.

So we can’t discipline ourselves. We become lazy in the end. And some of us want a leader to whip us into discipline?

Yes, because we are too lazy, we are willing to abdicate from our own personal responsibility and let others discipline us. We are longing for a mystical and forceful leader that will force us magically to become disciplined citizens.

The problem with such a leadership is that it is only effective because of fear. You will only comply with the laws and follow the rules because you are afraid of jail time. Or worse, be made food for the fishes.

Has anyone thought of complying with the laws and following the rules because doing so will benefit ourselves, our fellow Filipinos, and our country?

Again, we go back to change of mindset. It is time we begin to follow rules because doing so is for our own benefit, and our country’s. We need to start instilling discipline unto ourselves, for our common good. We need to unshackle ourselves from the chains of laziness and start working on our self-discipline.

No one can save us from laziness and lack of discipline but ourselves. And that starts with a change of mindset.

(Photo from The Baltimore Sun).


Ayusin natin ang ad mo, Grace Poe


“Matiisin tayo. Inaabuso na, tanggap pa rin. Ilang oras sa pila. Araw-araw sa traffic. Wala pa sa trabaho o eskwela, pagod ka na. Bakit pag serbisyo-publiko, pahirapan? Dapat maayos,at maaasahang transportasyon para sa lahat. Wag tayong mag-iwanan. Opo, tayo mismo. Ayusin natin ang Pilipinas.”

So goes the latest ad of Grace Poe, who is gunning for the post of the president of the Republic. This is just a short note to highlight some things.

One, it is very disingenuous and timing is perfect. Hello, didn’t she just have a Senate hearing on the MRT3 a week ago? And now everyone is#APECtado‬ ng #trAPEC‬? Poe, through her ad, is adding incendiary barbs to the raging farts to not only antagonize the Aquino administration but to tell the raging netizens “I told you so.”

So, she’s like, a prophet now? Kudos to her PR team, such timing is impeccable.

Yet we have to ask: after all those hearings, has Senator Poe produced any report, any findings, any concrete solutions at all? When all she could crow about are elevators, escalators, and bathrooms – Houston, we have a problem.

The problems with the MRT3 are more than just elevators and escalators and bathrooms and, yes, even trains: the problems with the MRT3 have been there since 2007! I had blogged several times about the problems with the MRT through the years, see MRT: Seconds from disaster, Another look at the MRT, MRT: Seconds from disaster 2, Technology and the MRT, and What should be done with the MRT?

Yes, the real problem that we all can see is that the MRT3 is operating way beyond capacity, brought about by wrong design assumptions, and Joseph Estrada’s populist idea of lowering the fare, thus making more people take the trains, way more than what was the designed capacity. And if you operate beyond capacity, the trains suffer, they carry more than what they were designed to do, so they conk out later on, rails break because the trains passing through are heavier than expected. That’s where we are now. We’ll talk about trains in a bit.

Two, it is not honest at all. Infrastructure projects take time. They are not straight-from-the-shelf things that you can take out, put somewhere, and voila! What the ad won’t tell you is that projects that are designed precisely to alleviate problems that her ad has stated are already either underway or to be started.

The Skyway Stage 3 connecting SLEX to NLEX is being built, so trucks from Batangas ports and Laguna industrial parks no longer have to take EDSA, C-5, and South Superhighway to deliver goods to the north. Another component, once started, will go directly towards the North Harbor.

LRT1 is to be extended up to Bacoor in Cavite, and new trains will be procured from Japanese companies (because the new train acquisition is to be funded through Japan overseas development assistance or ODA loans, only Japanese companies can bid). LRT2 is being extended up to Masinag so that people of Antipolo have another alternative mode of transportation. LRT7 is just waiting for some financing closing before they begin construction.

And the much maligned MRT3 will get new trains (to be honest, not enough but will alleviate current overloaded situation). Yes, we need more trains. But why only now? From the first time I blogged about it to now, it is a seven year span. Why did it take so long? While this was discussed in the Senate hearings, no emphasis was given on the complicated build-lease-transfer agreement between the owners of the MRT3 and the Philippine government. Yes, we don’t “own” the MRT3 – we are leasing it from the private owners, we pay them GUARANTEED payments regardless if the MRT3 earns or not (hence the yearly government subsidies running into tens of billions of pesos), and government maintains the system at government’s expense. So, where do trains come in the picture? The private owners are the ones who are supposed to provide new trains! What happened? They didn’t. They only expressed their willingness to do so when Poe had her first hearing. There was even a legal issue if the government can buy new trains, all because the government doesn’t own the MRT3. The government decided to get new trains, and we can expect new ones next year.

That’s just 2 major projects. They will take time, they are not instant-noodle solutions. They take time because the government wants to do it right: projects untainted with corruption; projects that are not ad hoc, not piecemeal, but part of a holistic solution. Projects that are carefully planned. Don’t we want that?

The next administration will have to make sure these are continued, especially projects that are in the pipeline. But if we elect someone who is averse or will tend to scrap everything, we are not back to zero, we are back to the Stone Age.

Aside: Mar Roxas intends to reform our bus system so that drivers are paid per day and make routes more profitable. I hope he’d take on the taxi system as well, since it is similar to how buses are operated.

Another aside: for this local problem, only one candidate has proposed solutions – only Roxas. Others we got I-promise-you statements.

Lastly, as someone who is aspiring for a national post, she keeps on harping on a rather local issue, specifically Metro Manila. Well, this is not surprising, given this:

Survey results are here (PDF).

It’s all for votes, obviously, but kind of pandering as well. Parang bahala na kayo, people outside of Metro Manila.

I have been a resident of Metro Manila my entire life; I’ve been taking the MRT for more than 8 years now; I’d seen how horrible the traffic was when Skyway phase 1 was started and the Libis Flyover-Katipunan Underpass was started. I’ve been through that hell that everyone is raging about. I want solutions that are sound, better planned, and untainted with corruption. I look forward to a time when government plans can be executed without ten million cases and more controversies.

We keep on hearing complaints about Imperial Manila and yet we have a candidate who props it more! Enough of that! Now we have five years where everyone is getting their fair share of resources. I have to wait for more than 10 years for a better MRT. In so many places they have had to wait 30 to 50 years for a bridge and a road and improvement. They got it now. That’s fair to me. And thats what we should expect from a good government that does not pander for votes: a country that grows together and not have one part spoiled in an irresponsible way. That’s the real cause of the hell that is being fixed. And we won’t get that, apparently, from Grace Poe.

To reiterate: the ad was made to make her appear prophetic and to raise antagonism against the Aquino administration; to allege, through omission of facts, that nothing’s being done about infrastructure problems; and to pander more to her core constituency – the angry netizens of Metro Manila, disregarding the rest of the country.

(Originally published as a Facebook Note.)