Dear Mr. President
First of all, I had my doubts about you when you became President-elect. It’s not because I think there were better choices out there but because you, simply put, were just the lesser of the evils.
I thought your campaign was, sorry to say, shallow. I mean seriously, dancing around on a TV commercial to ill written pop music is not exactly “presidential” in any way, shape or form. The same goes, in my humble opinion, for your P-Noy monicker, so I’ll just address you as Mr. President.
When you took the stand and your oath two years ago, I couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of patriotism for some of the things you said. Your declaration of “no wang wang” (both literally and figuratively) really caught my ear. It’s like a long overdue declaration of war against those who ravaged our society, raided public coffers and abused their prestigious positions on our roads, and for once, I felt truly hopeful that we can truly come out of this as a better country.
At the same time, however, there were some faint alarm bells in the distance… simply because I don’t want a President that defines his term by how many witches he hunts.
I believe a President should not be a mere crusader against corruption but a true leader for progress. Yes, graft, corruption and padrino politics constitute an extremely heavy ball and chain when it comes to progress, but you’ve already proved that there’s always a chance that we can break free of this ridiculously self-maiming cycle. Now it’s time to prove that you can lead us in actually moving forward from the spot we’ve been trapped in for so long.
So why, as I’m sure you’d be wondering if you were actually reading this, Mr. President, is a motoring writer talking about politics?
It’s simple: for us to be able to move forward, we need better infrastructure to move around in. Our country sorely needs better air travel, better rail systems, better vehicles, better and more roads.
I would have imagined that you would have prioritized the airport that bears your father’s name; a facility that has fallen into desperate levels disrepair and has become a hotbed of corruption, garnering it notoriety as one of the world’s worst. It doesn’t take a brilliant engineer to realize that having the two primary runways intersect each other is just a bad idea, or that letting our newest terminal be unbelievably underutilized is just throwing money in the bin; money we don’t have much of. The same goes for all the other regional airports in the country.
A suggestion: activate Clark as an fully functioning alternate airport to NAIA. Two parallel runways with clearer, safer airspace would be a fine alternative to Manila, but for that to be really feasible, we need something that many major airports around the world have: an efficient express railway system. And that brings me to my next point.
Take a look at all the prosperous, highly developed countries around the world and what do you find? A great network of railways that bridge nearly all of the major cities and ports to allow goods and travelers to get to where ever they need to go.
We need a great railway network, Mr. President. One that will connect the major cities and the ports together. It just makes more sense than having thousands upon thousands of trucks plying the highways and streets, burning their own fuel and increasing wear on the road.
And speaking of roads, again, we need plenty more of them. Not just wider, safer and smoother roads, but bridges as well. Anyone who has taken their car aboard a RO-RO (roll-on, roll off) ferry will understand the fear of crossing to another island on anything other than calm seas, on a boat built back in the 1940s to carry tanks and troops to invade a beach.
Perhaps, Mr. President, you could take a few cues from your predecessor… though not a recent one, and definitely one that your family has been at odds with. Controversial as it may seem, Marcos, for all his faults, accomplished a lot in his time with regards to infrastructure. The San Juanico Bridge in Imelda’s hometown is a prime (and awe inspiring) example, along with that fantastic coastal highway in his hometown of Ilocos. A grand achievement was the Maharlika (Pan-Philippine) highway, a route that stretches from Laoag to Sorsogon, Samar to Leyte, and finally Surigao to Zamboanga with two ferry trips in between. We need roads, bridges, and streetlamps that actually turn on at night, otherwise we’re just in the dark.
Looking over the PPP website, I can see there are several projects already in progress. I really do hope that a project to build more bridges between the “bridgeable” islands (like from Sorsogon to Samar or Southern Leyte to Surigao) comes up, as that would really go a long way in connecting the major islands in the country, leaving the RO-RO ferries to work on routes that are too long to be bridged. And, more importantly, that the existing projects like the NLEX-SLEX Connector (an elevated highway to be constructed over the PNR line) be completed and not end up as another white elephant; we have enough of those to start a new species.
We skipped so many major requirements for national growth, Mr. President, like a driver trying to get to 5th, but choosing to skip skipping 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and the result is the same for our country as it would be if we drove that way.
Progressive countries went through their gears in order, first with an agricultural revolution, an industrial revolution, and now an information technology revolution. What do we have? EDSA Revolution. Three of them, in fact… but all rather useless for progress and business.
Looking at a globe, it’s easy to see why the United States wanted us from Spain over 110 years ago, as we are positioned in an extremely strategic part of South East Asia: smack dab in the middle. Yet despite that fact, many companies -especially car manufacturers- choose to bring their business to places like Thailand. That’s not right geographically, but it makes sense, given our lack of infrastructure, extremely high electricity costs and an unstable and inherently corrupted system. Maybe you, Mr. President, given time and the determination to pursue it, could turn that around.
Am I hopeful? Yes. There’s always hope that it can be done in our lifetime. I just hope we don’t get distracted with the wrong things like a wayward shoal (that is obviously ours, unless the Chinese Politburo haven’t heard of something called a map) or a Chief Justice that is most certainly a midnight appointee placed to protect the interests of his padrina.
While being remembered as the President Who Vanquished Corruption -valiantly chasing after the vampires who systematically abused power and in nearly all levels and branches of government Van Helsing style- certainly sounds like a good legacy to leave behind, we’ve all got better, more constructive things to do and attend to with our time.
You’ve still got 4 years left, Mr. President. Please don’t do a Van Helsing, full time.
Besides, Hugh Jackman has better hair.
Concerned Citizen & Associate Editor