Ellen Tordesillas

The tragedy of a numbed citizenry

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I seriously doubt if this bill by Angat Tayo Party-list Rep. Neil Abayon will prosper into law and if it could be implemented. But it’s good enough because it is a recognition of government officials’ incompetence and ignorance of the situation on the ground. 

House Bill 6195 authored by Abayon requires elected and appointed public officials with the rank or equivalent of division chief to department secretary to ride public land transport to and from work and for official business at least once every calendar month during weekday rush hours.

The purpose of the bill is in order for government officials to gain “personal, first-hand experience “and “real world perspective” about riding in public transport in this country. 

The worst situation, of course, is Metro Manila.

The glaring example of the government officials being out-of-touch of the daily agony of commuters in Metro Manila is the decision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board or LTFRB to suspend operations of Uber, a transport network vehicle service.

Sen. Grace Po called it “both cruel and absurd.”

Sen. Ralph Recto said, if the intent is to punish Uber,” then to do it in a way that will hurt Uber, the company, and not the tired and harassed riding public.”

Last Aug. 15, it was so difficult to get Grab vehicle service. I and my friend, Charmaine Deogracias, were at Greenbelt One at about 3:30 trying to get ride for a 4 p.m. appointment in Salcedo Village. While lining up at the taxi stand, we were also trying to contact Grab. Impossible. 

We finally got a taxi, 40 minutes later. The driver was rude. He was not familiar with Makati so we used Waze. He dropped us off far from our destination refusing to find the exact address we were going to.

On our return trip to Greenbelt at about 7 p.m, we were able to contact Grab but our booking would be cancelled a few minutes after. It happened several times.

For a commuter like me, Grab and Uber, have made travel within Metro Manila less stressful. My experience with rude and scheming taxi drivers is long and stressful.

I share Poe’s lament when she said, “I am aghast that this agency that committed before the Senate to resolve the issues has just imposed a cure that will only make the disease much worse. It does not solve the problem, but further exacerbates the problem of having an utter lack of safe, reliable, and convenient transportation options for our people. The issue is not about roadworthiness but one that involves a mere administrative violation, which should have merited a corresponding administrative penalty. The penalty should not further prejudice the public and place the riders' wellbeing at risk by limiting their options.”

New reports yesterday said Uber is offering to pay a P10 million fine just to have the suspension lifted.

Whatever the LTFRB decides, can they please take into consideration the riding public which, in the first place, is what the office is for?

 ***

I’ve read a comment criticizing the indignation over the suspension of Uber and the lack of public outrage over the killing of 32 drug suspects in one night in the Philippine National Police (PNP) illegal drugs sweep in Bulacan.

Yes, I agree. The lack of outrage by the public over PNP’s boast of 32 in one night’s sweep is lamentable.

More so the audience’s amused reaction when President Duterte’s said the killing of 32 people in one night was “beautiful.” 

“Iyong namatay daw kanina sa Bulacan, 32, in a massive raid. Maganda iyon. Makapatay lang tayo ng another 32 everyday, then maybe we can reduce the…what ails this country,” he said in a speech at anniversary of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption in Malacanang.

More than a year of daily killings in the name of eradicating drugs (which has not happened) has made extra-judicial killings common place. The public has been numbed.

The lack of outrage for things that are outrageous is deplorable. It has become a tragedy.

 
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