POSTSCRIPT / July 2, 2013 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Nat’l Reconciliation timely SONA theme

UNITY & RECONCILIATION: For a change, President Noynoy Aquino should open wide his arms in his midterm State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, embrace ALL sectors and plead earnestly for National Unity and Reconciliation.

The badly battered nation needs political and moral healing for faster economic progress. So does the President need reconciliation as he clambers over the hump to slide toward the concluding half of his only term.

The nation and the President gain nothing by his continuing to be in political-combat mode. The 2010 campaign ended three years ago, and the expectant people are getting weary waiting for the promised deliverance from want.

As Father of the Nation, the President should now assume the posture of a leader of ALL sectors and not only of his Liberal Party-led camp. He should not fritter away his limited time hounding political enemies, real or imagined.

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GOODBYE PARTISANSHIP: Political vendetta must stop. If there are documented criminal offenses worth pursuing they should be filed immediately, after which the courts should decide the cases without meddling from the Executive.

Instead of being mired in party matters and political maneuvering, the President can then have more quality time looking after the people’s welfare and defending the nation from insurgents and foreign interlopers.

Barred by the Constitution from running for another term, President Aquino’s shedding partisan feathers should come naturally.

He should not listen to suggestions that when making official decisions he should have in mind the interests of the LP coalition and the enhancing of the chances of its would-be presidential candidate in 2016.

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LEAN ON THE MASSES: Contrary to what he is being hypnotized to think, Mr. Aquino does not need an LP president as successor to cover his tracks and protect him and his family after his term.

If he has been fair and honest, and remains so until he steps down in June 2016, he has nothing to fear. He does not need a fellow Liberal as replacement to shield him from political retribution.

He is safer in the embrace of a happy, contented people than in the grip of party mates obsessed with amassing power and wealth.

He should be deaf to suggestions that he has a duty to lead the party to victory in 2016. His duty is to make sure the best man/woman for the people’s best interest takes over the reins of government after him.

Party labels, which are temporary tags, have become meaningless. A good rule to follow is: When in doubt, sumandal na lang sa taumbayan. (Lean on the masses.)

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JUDGMENT DAY: Before Mr. Aquino can blink twice, it would be almost June 2016. And looking around – like his mother President Cory did in her time — he would ask the hangers-on about legacy and what his administration had delivered by way of concrete and lasting achievements.

He would ask his advisers fueling their scorch-earth campaign what they had accomplished aside from making themselves look good by demonizing political foes. He would ask his speechwriters what they had done aside from raising unrealistic expectations among the poor.

That would be his Day of Judgment. What could he show to Filipinos wading in flood waters, cowering in shanties along murky waterways, waiting for the nextpantawid dole-out, pounding the streets in search of scarce jobs, et cetera?

Noynoy Aquino, I humbly suggest, can redeem himself in the second half of his term by dropping partisanship, thinking only of the higher welfare of the masses, and re-emerging as the “People’s President.”

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METRO TRAFFIC: Back to Metro Manila traffic – which I consider the acid test of the competence of the Aquino administration – reader O. S. Espanola reminds us from Jakarta that we do not have to reinvent the wheel.

If we are too confused, or plain lazy, we can just copy from how similarly situated megacities manage their traffic. Espanola reports that in Jakarta, these are some of the things they do along Jl Thamrin and Sudirman:

• One lane (the middle lane as they are driving left) is set aside for big buses (Jakarta Transbus, as the smaller Kopaja buses use the same lanes for private vehicles). The lane is separated from the rest of the 3-4 lanes for private vehicles by about one-foot-high concrete curb.

“I don’t understand why MMDA cannot see that buses are the main traffic problem on EDSA.”

• During rush hours (7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.) only cars with at least three passengers are allowed. A driver gets fined if ferrying fewer than that.

“This is an opportunity for the jobless and mothers lugging babies to earn extra rupiahs (about 10K) by acting as the third passenger or ‘jockey.’ These ‘jockeys’ can be seen during rush hours lining up along the roads with the thumbs-up sign. We cannot do this in Manila — or else mahoholdup ka.”

• One or two police officers complete with green luminous safety jackets and walkie-talkies direct traffic at the main intersections even where there are traffic lights.

“They work until late at night — unlike in Metro Manila where officers disappear or abandon their posts when it gets dark. Also, they are more concerned on directing traffic instead of pulling-over drivers for minor offenses.”

• On side streets there are “informal” traffic aides. These are civilian “tambays” who man busy intersections. For voluntary 100, 200, or 500 rupiahs or loose change, or none at all, they assist drivers make tricky U-turns, thereby easing traffic.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 2, 2013)

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