Post for Mar 2-8 2014

TaN: Just this past weekend, a news article had the title “More bills to install speed limiters to PUVs filed” and, from a columnist (Sir Bobit S Avila to be specific), “Cha-cha must be via constitutional convention“.  At first glance, these articles appear to be entirely unrelated.  However, they are related via cultural personality.

In the spate of bus tragedies caused mainly by speed, installing or requiring the installation of speed limiters does not really address the core of the problem.  The problem is better addressed with strict implementation of protocols for obtaining a professional license and the law.  This means that it is better to “invest” in human training and commitments to safe driving rather than depend on machines and gadgetry.  Moreover, even if speed limiting devices were installed, this would only prevent vehicles from exceeding a pre-set speed but there would be nothing to prevent the vehicle from accelerating downhill.

As to the law, it would still be superior if people – specifically law enforcers in the field – would apply the law as it should be applied and not “give in” to graft and corruption.

And for the matter of Charter change, it will not really matter whether it is done through a constitutional convention, a Congressional amendment, or a constituent assembly.  For as long as political clans and dynasties dominate the political landscape, the agenda of these select power elite will always prevail.

A better alternative is to mimic the process of the United States of America Congress where specific amendments to the Charter is done on a piecemeal basis – i.e., one provision at a time – instead of opening the whole Constitution.  This way, only one particular provision is tackled at a time and any “plans” to involve other (personal interest) provisions will require a longer queuing period and will make their “hidden agenda” obvious.

Opening the Constitution up makes it difficult to control what and which provisions will be tackled and, during the “confusion”, parties with personal agenda can make their “move” and “customize and tailor-fit” the Charter to their ends.

In both instances, the problem is better (although it would be a lot tougher) addressed with working on the Filipino psyche and cultural values instead of relying on technology (the bus problem) and risky methodologies (Charter change) to achieve desired objectives.

Finally, in conclusion, it must be realized, understood and remembered – again – that there are no shortcuts to doing what is right and good – but there are lots or countless shortcuts to what is wrong and evil.  Doing what is right and good takes a lot of effort, so if we expect to achieve the correct (and lasting) change for the better, we have to be patient and determined.

TaN: As for the (in)famous truck ban of Mayor Estrada, there is an easy solution – if everyone is sincere in solving a major cause of the traffic congestion in the metro city.  Revive the railway system that starts (or ends) at the Port Area and built two container facilities outside of the metropolitan area (one in the north, one in the south) where all outbound – i.e., those intended for the provinces or outside of Metro Manila – containers will be delivered by rail and the container haulers can pick up their freight there.

As the containers are being off-loaded from the ships, they are simultaneously sorted and placed on railcars.  Whether individually or in batches, the railcars can be hitched to the current railways system (PNR – Philippine National Railways) during its scheduled trip and hauled off the wherever the container facility it is destined to go.

This eliminates the need for monster trucks coming into the metropolis to fetch their containers and mingling with regular vehicular traffic.  It also brings in additional revenue to the government railway system – from fees charged for each batch of containers hauled.

As for those containers where the contents are intended for the metropolis, a separate facility may be built within the metropolitan area where the contents can be sorted into smaller trucks for their individual business warehouses and this can be done in the evening where the smaller volume of road vehicular traffic can easily accommodate the trucks presence.

Finally, the elimination of the trucks hauling heavy containers from city streets will increase the life of city streets because their heavy loads will no longer be a burden – I believe the streets were not designed to carry such heavy loads which is a principal cause of road damage.

TaN: Primitive law is truly just and fair and based on what is good, whereas modern law is based on conformity.  It used to be that a society’s laws are patterned after what is deemed to be right and equitable.  This is because everyone share the same set of values and sense of what is right versus what is wrong.  This common set of values and sense of right and justice is what makes it possible.  But as once-isolated or remote cultures and societies expand and increase their interaction and interdependence with their neighbors and other cultures and societies, it necessitated a change in how laws are enacted.

Because it is understood and accepted that no culture or society can claim superiority over another, what one culture or society considers just and right may not necessarily be so for another.  This argument (cultural relativism) made it imperative that laws and agreements would no longer be based on what is just and right but on what will promote harmonious co-existence and interaction.  And this is where problems are bound to arise.

In multi-cultural states and nations, this led to laws or agreements that are based on compromises for the sake of harmonious and mutually beneficial symbiotic relations to ensure all parties or sides gain or get/achieve what they want.  And this is the reason behind why many laws appear not to be about what is right and what is wrong anymore.  Instead, they are mostly regarding peaceful co-existence and interdependence.  In fact, I seem to recall a line in the a defunct television series about law and lawyers at around the turn of the millennium (to paraphrase), “Law is not about what is right and wrong but about who knows how to play by the rules better.”

During these times, it becomes frustrating to obey laws knowing that it is unjust but we still have to abide because it is the law.  It is in the Holy Scriptures – at least, it is one of my interpretations of it – where Jesus said, “Give unto Cæsar what is Cæsar’s and to God what is God’s“.  The way I understand it, even if the law is unjust or wrong, it must still be obeyed precisely because it is the law.  However, while the unjust law is being obeyed, steps must be taken to amend or change the injustice.  It does not mean that there is no other recourse but to accept and live with the unjust law.  It only means that we follow but initiate steps to make it right.

Finally, despite having differences in culture and in values, there are undeniably laws and values that are universal – i.e., common to all.  These can be the point of commencement for crafting laws and policies that are not only universally applicable but are likewise fair.  It does not have to be for mere convenience or conformity.

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