Post for Jun 11-17 2017

TaN: In today’s (June 15) news in The Philippine STAR — titled “Most dangerous countries for tourists: Philippines ranks 11th” by a certain Helen Flores — the ranking is most likely not caused by the ongoing violent conflict in Marawi City but due to the continuing bloody campaign by and of Mr Duterte against illegal drugs, corruption, and to almost anything he can think of.  It seems like Mr Duterte’s answer to all societal, be it national or local or whatever, is to have the wrongdoers killed.

It appears that Mr Duterte does not know that there are gray areas in the punishment segment of the criminal justice system.  It would seem that Mr Duterte’s law background failed to cover those in-between areas but just focused on life or death — so everything to and with him is a life or death situation.  At least he keeps everything simple…only two sides or possibilities or outcomes.  What a guy!

TaN: In the light of the recent and latest headache with respect to the mass rail transit of Metro Manila, it is sad that it is supposed to be one significant solution to both the commuter problem and climate change issues is in such a terrible state that it answers neither issues.  It is foolish to expect commuters to patronize mass rail transit when it is in such a sorry state, to have frequent and constant or intermittent disruptions in service for one reason or another and all of which are mere evidence or proof of corruption and incompetence of both government and private contractors.  How does government expect the public to take the mass rail transit seriously when it does not give the riding public any reason to patronize it.

In addition, the government runs after the rest of the mass transit system — the buses and jeepneys — although, in fairness, they do leave much to be desired by the riding public.  Many of them are dilapidated and driven by irresponsible drivers — i.e., they may have the proper license but do not know the first thing in safety and have been shown to be ignorant of the simplest and most common road traffic signs.  How did they ever get their driver’s license anyway?

Many of these break down in the middle of the road and the drivers do not even know enough to move them to the side so as not to obstruct traffic.

The traffic problem of Metro Manila is a multi-facted one.  It is a combination of many factors which, if not addressed simultaneously and coordinated properly, will remain a problem for a long time to come.  The current so-called solutions are stop-gap measures and does little to mitigate, let alone solve, the problem.  Furthermore, these measures create new problems.

So, what are the different factors that significantly contribute to the traffic problem — that must be addressed and solved simultaneously or in parallel?
(1) There are just plain too many cars on very limited streets.  Solution: Implement the no-designated-parking-no-car-sale policy.  The designated parking spot is not limited to that of the home but also include ample parking at work.  For business or commercial establishments (especially those in the retail industry), either provide ample parking or implement a passenger-drop-off-pick-up-only policy for customers or both.  The barangays can be deputized to assist in the policy since they are most familiar with which residents have cars and how many.  Moreover, to ensure strict compliance with the policy, the government can conduct periodic and unannounced inspections and barangays who are remiss in their function will be sanctioned: fines, budget reduction, removal from office, etc.  Those with pre-existing cars will be given a grace period, without extension of the deadline, to comply — i.e., either construct a garage, lease a parking spot, or move somewhere else.  [Unless otherwise designated by the proper authority, all streets shall be considered tow-away zones and the term “parking” means that the vehicle engine is turned off.  The presence of a passenger or people in the car does or will not be considered as not parking.]
(2) Still on the previous item.  Solution: Implement a graduated and progressive car sales tax system where sales tax will increase radically — commensurate to the purchase price of the car — for those who can afford more than one car.  Again, this can involve the barangay which will issue a certificate as to the size of the garage of the prospective car buyer — i.e., whether the garage can accommodate any additional cars or if there is a neighborhood parking lot where the resident can lease a spot and, in this case, the photostatic copy of the lease agreement must accompany the barangay certification.  More cars imply greater wealth which means they can afford to pay heftier taxes.
(3) Streets are being turned into parking spots and car repair and accessorizing areas.  Solution: Implement a tow-away policy.  Pay parking does not really solve the problem because the revenue cannot justify the inconvenience or obstruction to traffic flow.  The whole idea is to ease traffic congestion and not increase government revenue.
(4) Too many incompetent or undeserving drivers have licenses.  Solution: Implement a three-strike policy for violators — better with a no-contact ticketing system.  For the first offense, a fine according to a traffic violating fine matrix.  For the second offense, suspension of license with a fine.  For the third and final offense, revocation of license with a fine.  There will be a corresponding penalty to the driving test administrator-evaluator who approved the issuance of a driver’s license corresponding to the penalties for first, second, and third offense of the violator.  In the case of undeserving drivers, these refers to those who know their street signs — they are mentally and intellectually fit — but are psychologically or emotionally incapable of abiding (like overtaking when there is a continuous yellow line or being caught in the orange “X” box at an intersection when the traffic light is no longer green).  [Btw, for a 3-colored traffic light, the middle color is amber and not yellow or orange and it means “Stop” just like the red light and not “go faster”.]
(5) Too many poorly-maintained vehicles on the road.  Solution: Implement a three-strike policy for breakdowns.  For the first incident: a fine according to a traffic obstruction fine matrix.  For the second offense, impounding of the vehicle with a fine as well as charges to release from impoundment.  For the third and final offense, the vehicle will be confiscated (because the owner does not take proper care of it) and forfeit in favor of the government.  Of course, this implementation shall apply only to vehicles that break down due to improper maintenance and not due to accidents due to the other vehicle’s something else’s fault.
(6) Obstructive road repair and maintenance projects that either take too long or forever and at the wrong time of day.  Solution: Unless it is absolutely unavoidable (like emergency situations where an explosion from an underground gas pipe or a burst water pipe or damage resulting from a sudden ground tremor), any and all road repair and maintenance must be done off-peak hours.  Moreover, road drainage projects and any road work that entails closing up a lane to vehicular traffic must provide for a way to open the lane to traffic when no work is undergoing.  In addition, road work unfinished and passed the (publicly announced and posted on a street signboard adjacent to the ongoing work) deadline must be liable from suit for breach of contract.
(7) Traffic accidents and other obstructions should be addressed and resolved within 5 minutes, especially where there are currently experiencing heavy and slow moving traffic.  Solution: Position traffic enforcers at strategic points — particularly known choke points and accident-prone areas — along known-to-experience heavy vehicular traffic routes, especially during peak hours, and roving traffic enforcers who move around to locate the cause of bottlenecks and to provide additional or auxiliary manpower (perhaps assisted or augmented by barangays) to points experiencing bottlenecks.  And, self-accidents or self-obstructions will entail stiffer penalties because these are responsibilities of the vehicle owner (and his/her driver) and are avoidable, although it cannot completely be blamed on them as the driving test administrator/evaluator him-/herself most probably do not know the first thing about starting a vehicle — e.g., even before getting into the vehicle (to start the engine), a visual and physical inspection of all the outside must first be carried out, as in checking the tires (pressure), the tail lights (if damaged), checking for obstructions), and, once inside, for the windshield wipers, the horn, the front lights, then, immediately after starting and at the initial forward movement, the brakes.
(8) Sidewalks should be addressed as well — they are either non-existent, in bad condition, or are otherwise occupied with illegal obstructions, including vendors.  Solution: Determine political will must be applied to remove all such forms of obstructions from existing sidewalks, construct non-existing ones where there is a necessity, repair and maintain those in poor conditions, and upgrade those that are below standards or qualifications (such as no or stupidly constructed — like when there is lamp post right smack in the middle of the ramp or the ramp is facing the wrong direction — access ramps for people who are not ambulatorily fit (like those in wheel chairs, with canes or crutches, or otherwise have physical deformities that make it difficult for them to step up on the curb)).  Removal of sidewalk obstructions, non-existence, or those in poor conditions give jay walkers an excuse to use the streets where only vehicular traffic should be using.  Another problem is the use of sidewalks as parking areas.  While it is true that sidewalks are the part of the property of the lot owner, there is a law (or ordinance) which requires the lot owner to leave or allocate the outer (or street side) edge (usually a meter or so) as easement for the government to provide as sidewalk, which is public in use and by public it refers to utilization as a pathway for people to walk by and not to put stationary obstructions that impede the flow of foot traffic.  [Btw, it is likewise common practice in many areas of the metropolis to use the sidewalk as the “toilet” of their pets.  It would be good if they bring along a pooper scooper.]
(9) Large non-passenger transports increase immensely the volume of road traffic.  Solution: A complete and unconditional ban from entering the metropolitan area (during daytime and peak vehicular volume in particular evening periods) on or for all large vehicles not involved in the transport of passengers/commuters — the definition or qualification of “large” will either refer to vehicles exceeding a particular carrying capacity or a particular overall length (from front to the rear bumper).  To ensure this, (1) government must immediately embark on providing alternate routes around the main metropolitan area (like circumferential roads) that permit vehicles, that are merely passing through from one end of the metropolitan area to the other, to go around and avoid entering and thus adding to the traffic flow and (2) those commercial or industrial establishments and businesses with need of transporting large volumes of goods and wares that require large vehicles will be given a grace period to establish a system of scheduling delivery of essential goods.  In the second or latter instance, the business has a choice of either: (1) scheduling deliveries and restocking requirements within or around a window of opportunity to be designated by the traffic authority/ies, (2) establish a warehouse just outside of the metropolitan area and have smaller cargo vehicles (within the designated weight and size limit) deliver and/or distribute the goods and wares to their destination points within the metropolitan area (preferably during non-business hours, like in the evening), or (3) make other arrangements or alternatives like relocating.  In the case of imported or ship-borne cargo and goods, a central receiving government depot shall be established just at the outskirts of the metropolitan area where all cargo and goods will be transported by rail directly from the ship to the facility where businesses can await and pick up their respective merchandise.
(10) Finally (but not limited to this and the aforementioned, it is just these are the only ones I can think of so far for now), flooding of streets contribute a lot to heavy traffic as vehicles, especially those with a low profile or chassis, tend to avoid low-lying and known flood-prone streets.  Solution: A two-prong approach includes (1) a complete and perpetual moratorium on road work or repair where a change in the elevation of the street/road will result and (2) clearing of streets and sidewalks of all man-made non-permanent items and debris (such as commercial wares and equipment, as furniture and laundry, and as garbage and trash not in large bins and heavy containers, to name a few).
In the case of street/road level elevation, it is common practice to raise the street/road level in flood-prone areas, which does not solve the problem because flooding will just shift to the new lowest catch basin, and then the flooding cycle will begin all over again (except that it will be in another area).  This is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money and profits only the private contractors.  It likewise makes the flood map useless as there will have to be a remapping.
If street levels remain constant throughout the metropolitan area, flooding will be “fixed” in known areas and this will not only prevent shifting around of flooded areas — hence ensuring that there will be no need for flood-prone areas remapping — but the said flood-prone areas can be declared off limits to housing or any manner of construction or settlement but stay as a catch basin of some sort.  Moreover, catchment reservoirs can be installed to drain flood waters fast and perhaps even pump them out to sea.
As to the obstructions, clearing them would guarantee that light malleable non-biodegradable materials (such as plastic bags) will not float away and clog up drains — which are the major reasons for flooding or failure to drain properly into sewers — or get entangled in gears in motor vehicles as well as in cycles (bicycles or motorcycles).  Furthermore, they will not add to the floating islands of debris in the Pacific Ocean and/or poison marine life that mistake them for food (such as sea turtles which feed on jellyfish and man-of-wars) or get entangled in fish gills.

TaN: As Mr Duterte misses another important event “due to sickness”, a vague pattern emerges — it would appear that it is getting to be a “habit” of Mr Duterte to miss certain significant occasions where his presence is not only expected but vital.  His absence from this year’s Independence Day celebration is just another of a string of such incidents.

It seems very convenient that Mr Duterte’s illnesses are uncannily timed to coincide with significant events or occasions.  Sure, we understand that the demands of the office is unforgiving but his staff should at least forewarn him so that he can probably tone down his activities so as to conserve and reserve some energy for the upcoming important functions he will have to attend to.

Moreover, it should not wait until the media and the public begin to make speculations and spread suspicions regarding Mr Duterte’s state of health — because it is undeniable that he is no spring chicken and his salad days are way long past — that the presidential staff address and apologize to the public regarding Mr Duterte’s noticeable absence from the limelight.

Even if the public knows that Mr Duterte is not one who hugs or seeks the spotlight, still, Mr Duterte should realize that the public will always demand or expect to see him on various occasions and that his absence will not go unnoticed.  Moreover, Mr Duterte should remember that his critics and detractors are just lying in wait and will pounce on every opportunity to capitalize on his every absence and mistakes or miscalculations.

And it is not enough that Mr Duterte “ignore” the public and just do what he wants.  There should be an amicable compromise between Mr Duterte and media and the public so as to avoid further such public relations problems.

TaN: In the light of the ongoing campaign against the terrorist group in Mindanao of the Philippines, a 1st lieutenant killed in action has been laid to rest.  What I am curious about is why is this particular casualty given media coverage whereas the many other foot soldiers who likewise died in the line of duty did not receive the same honors and media attention.  Why not?  Why the (apparent) discrimination?  Just because they are “nobodies”, the nameless souls of the service?  Do they not deserve at least equal treatment and attention?

In fact, if any fallen serviceman should be deserving of honors and attention, it should be the unthanked faceless military fodder.  They are the lowest man in the proverbial totem pole.  They are the ones most likely to be in harm’s way and have endure the most difficult and dangerous battlefield conditions — without belittling the officers of the front line units, their valor and bravery are beyond reproach.

It has been said that: Those who have less in life deserve more in law — or, in this case, in the compassion and benefits accorded by the service and society.  In today’s stark reality, it is frequently these unknowns who, even in death, remain faceless and nameless and badly unrecognized.  And, for the rest of us, who will not know of them — unless and until media shines some light their way.

Never mind, God knows who they are and that is more important than any recognition that can be given them.

TaN: Today (June 16, a Friday morning), I realized that there are actually two types of mistakes: those than can be corrected and those that cannot — and by “corrected” I mean there is a conscious, voluntary, deliberate and willing effort.

Most errors can be and are corrected so I need not expound on this.  Meanwhile, those that I regard as “cannot be corrected” are those that are caused by others who are either unwilling or unable to refrain from causing another person to commit mistakes.

A case in point is when you are easily distracted from whatever it is you are doing and another person — say, who suffers from forgetfulness as well as unwilling or unable to remember not to repeat distracting others (i.e., you) — keeps repeating the distraction every now and then, thereby causing you to make mistakes.  This kind of mistake needs the cooperation or willfulness of other people in order to be “corrected”.  The problem is that, since they forgot, they either deny the mistake or do not remember committing it.  As such, the mistake remains “uncorrected”.

Such mistakes, unless they can be defined or categorized into something else other than being a “mistake”, will simply just have to be endured and tolerated, especially if they are not so significant or are somewhat trivial.

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