Do government officials drive?
Now that the Cybercrime Prevention Act has been TRO’d (though I hope it was a TKO instead), let’s get back to brass tacks
A couple months ago, we met the LTO (Land Transportation Office) Chief at a brunch at the AAP office. While she seems like a nice lady, we have to ask the question: Ma’am, do you actually drive?
She strikes us as unusual simply because she doesn’t seem like the right fit for the job. And the only story I could Google (yes, I had to use it) on her that didn’t involve some kind of controversy or issue with plates, license cards or some kind of armed takeover of a private company, was one that talked about her favorite dish and how she changed in her office for a meeting. I’m no expert, but I think the LTO Chief’s job description needs some work.
Sadly, she’s not the only one in government who gives us that impression, and these are the ones directly in charge of how our roads are run and how our rules are enforced.
Our streets have become increasingly frustrating lately. With all the crap on our roads (figuratively… and literally) it’s not really hard to see why it has become so easy to go full Carabuena on someone, not to mention that accidents have become seemingly more frequent than before.
Traffic nowadays is just horrible. There is no just real sense of order to it apart from a severely flawed “system” that is uniquely Filipino; and no, that’s not something to be proud of. This system involves a lot of temporary counterflows, bribes and a lot of turning a blind eye to even the most basic but dangerous traffic violations. Respect for traffic signs, traffic enforcers or even the simple yellow box denoting the intersection practically don’t exist.
This is how many of us behave on our own roads, and it comes in stark contrast to how we are often viewed when we drive in other countries. Do we have to go abroad or even Subic to actually drive properly? Why can’t we practice it here? More to the point, why can’t we enforce it here?
I have a theory: the people in charge, in power or whose say carries a lot of weight don’t seem to actually drive anymore. These are people who are driven around, perhaps with some kind of escort or in a vehicle that has For Official Use Only branded on the side.
This really isn’t news, as our roads have been this way for a very, very long time… but is it too much to ask those in charge to actually get something done about it? And I’m not talking about simple stopgaps or quick fixes, I’m talking about real long-term planning to sort out traffic in our metropolis and beyond. Maybe not for our benefit now, maybe not even in 2 to 3 years. Think 5, 10 or 20 years from now.
Concrete plans should be made to fully rehabilitate roads for tomorrow; no pun intended. I’ve read about a proposal for a tunnel under EDSA. Ambitious, but why not look at an elevated toll road network that runs around the metropolis similar to the Shuto Expressway found in Tokyo? Will we begin the construction and repair of major and minor roads when there is an election around the corner? Daang Matuwid? I have to pay toll just to drive on one.
And what about plans to reduce the number of dilapidated vehicles on the road; private, public utility or government-owned alike? Can we really live with the so-called former glory of developing our mass transit around gaudily painted (or unpainted) jeepneys? How many accidents or incidents of brake loss will it take before we actually destine a run-down, old 10 wheeler truck or bus for the scrap yard?
Drivers that exhibit simple driving courtesy are too few and far in between. That’s a long term problem with regards to education and discipline. Thats where accidents begin and that’s where the seeds for road rage start.
Sometimes its funny when I get to talk to an official or two regarding the state of motoring in the country, even just Metro Manila. It’s one thing to read about these problems on our streets in some government report, on some NGO study, on a newspaper full of press/praise releases… it’s another thing to actually have to go out and drive, only to realize that it really has become a jungle out there.
In the same way that a team wouldn’t hire a head coach who hasn’t played a game of basketball in his or her life, should a government post be filled by someone who can’t relate to the job they’re about to execute?
My advice and challenge to you, dear government officials, is to leave the red plate vehicles at the office, leave anything with For Official Use Only there too, leave your government ID and your business cards, and tell your escorts to take a day off, and then go for a drive just by yourself.
See how it feels when -while patiently waiting in line to turn left at an intersection- someone chooses not to fall in line and cut in while fluttering their hand outside the window.
Feel the frustration as that jeepney cuts 2 or 3 lanes from the left, only to stop right in front of you at an intersection just as the lights turn green… and does it again at the next intersection 50 meters away.
Get annoyed at the fact that you’ll spend hard earned money for a tune up for that emissions exam every year, only to have your windshield be covered with this thick, sooty smoke belching from the 3 buses in front of you. And the fact that all of this can be done with impunity within sight of MMDA personnel, PNP officers and an LGU’s traffic enforcers can truly make your blood boil.
When you see things like these happen everyday on the way to work, to school, to the mall or even to church, let’s see if you can keep your cool. Let’s see if you won’t become the next YouTube sensation. Maybe then you’ll find out what it’s like be be one of the people; one of us.
Maybe then you’ll realize how much work there is that needs doing… starting yesterday.