POSTSCRIPT / May 15, 2014 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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What must Senate do: Prosecute or legislate?

PLEASE: Will God please descend from the heavens and stop the Senate’s pork barrel circus so our honorable senators can go back finally to their assigned legislative work for which we taxpayers are spending billions every year.

There are two main tracks leading to the closure of the pork barrel hullabaloo: (1) Remedial legislation and (2) Prosecution of the perpetrators.

• On remedial legislation, the senators already know from personal experience everything, especially the dirty tricks, about pork barrel. No need to preen before the TV cameras to ask the same inane questions. Just look at yourselves in the mirror, wink, and then sit down quickly to write the needed laws.

• On prosecution, it is never the Senate’s job to determine the guilt or innocence of parties. So, quickly pack and forward the documents to the Department of Justice or the Office of the Ombudsman for investigation and the prosecution of those with sticky fingers.

That’s it. Go to work. Legislate.

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MAY BISITA: It is a Filipino habit to put the house in order when visitors are coming. While the dusting up may be temporary, or even for show, it is still welcome.

City Hall in conjunction with the Metro Manila Development Authority is to be commended for suspending the truck ban during the preparation for the World Economic Forum on East Asia to be held May 21-23 for the first time in the Philippines.

Some 600 delegates who are heads of state, key government officials and business captains will converge on the capital city. We do not want them trapped in solid state traffic or to witness mayhem at the ports and use it as an indicator of the state of the local economy.

The moratorium on the truck ban, to take effect May 13-20 or eight days before the forum, should help unclog the ports in Manila of the cargo containers that had piled up as a result of the truck ban.

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PLANNING PAUSE: We share the hope that the moratorium will encourage the city government to find a more enlightened and lasting approach to easing traffic without compromising trade activity through the ports.

The growing volume of cargo indicates increased economic activity, which should be encouraged instead of penalized.

City Hall may have had the interest of motorists and commuters in mind in imposing the truck ban during rush hours. But its slowing down trade and commerce indicates a need for some adjustments.

Manila Mayor Erap Estrada correctly pointed out in his Executive Order 49 that the eight-day moratorium is needed to clear the cargo containers that had piled up at the piers. It can also be a time to pause and plan.

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HOLISTIC REVIEW: The moratorium is a good time for a holistic review of the ban and its effects, especially since there are no conclusive findings that, whether in Manila or anywhere in the metropolis, it had contributed substantially to the easing of traffic.

We note that among the measures being considered in Manila is the delaying the June reopening of classes. This indicates that the truck ban has not totally unclogged major roads.

Long-term measures such as the improving or building of new infrastructure should be fast-tracked, much like the unclogging of blood vessels to promote health.

Suggestions to transfer some of the cargo loads to outer ports such as those in Batangas and Subic may be impractical since traders still consider Manila as the center of trade and commerce.

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BIG TRADERS: The Joint Foreign Chambers composed of the biggest foreign trade groups and the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Inc. — the major sources of export revenues — said in a joint statement:

“While we are supporting all efforts to better utilize the available capacities of the ports of Batangas and Subic, we know that there are no options but to use the ports of Manila more effectively.”

At present, three million twenty-footer-equivalent units (TEUs) pass through the ports of Manila while Batangas and Subic have a combined capacity of only 800,000 TEUs.

The economy has been taking great strides, growing more than 7 percent last year to become one of the fastest growing in Asia, yet the country’s infrastructure remains inadequate compared to that of its neighbors.

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OUR OWN FIGHT: From the pile of feedback on the signing of the Phl-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, we picked this email of reader Nomer Obnamia:

“Please tell the Filipino people that the defense of the Philippines is the primary responsibility of the Filipinos! If they are not capable or willing to die for their country, then shut up and not aggravate the Chinese, please don’t call on the Americans to come and die for them.

“It’s about time for Filipinos to stand and be counted, and not just talk about defense done for them by the Americans. Did the Filipinos join the coalition forces in the Middle East war? Heavens No! Filipinos said it’s not their fight and it was America’s war in protecting its oil interests in the region. Joining Americans in ME war would endanger Phl supply of oil. What a friend Filipinos are!

“Those dinky little islands in dispute with China are not worth spilling American blood. If the Phl believes there are oil and minerals in those shoals, then the Filipinos should stand firm and fight for them. It’s Filipinos’ war, not the Americans this time.

“The bases agreement is one-sided whereby Americans are asked to give, but Filipinos give nothing in return.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 15, 2014)

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