POSTSCRIPT / January 6, 2015 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Arrogance of power a hint of coming fall

ARROGANCE: The insistence of the Aquino administration in raising MRT/LRT fares — almost doubling the rates in some segments — without notice, without hearing, and without administrative recourse smacks of arrogance of power.

President Noynoy Aquino may have forgotten that it was arrogance of power that impelled the Marcos dictatorship to murder his father Ninoy in 1983 as he stepped off the plane while thousands waited at the airport to welcome him and listen to his message of peace.

After Ninoy Aquino’s open-air assassination came the deluge, the swift slide of the Marcos regime, leading to the EDSA Revolt that forced the dictator to flee to Honolulu.

Arrogance of power destroys the mightiest of despots. As the Book of Proverbs (16:18) tells us “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

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NO CONSULTATIONS: Who does Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya think he is that he and his coterie can decide by themselves to raise MRT/LRT fares without first upgrading safety and efficiency in the light rail lines?

Just because President Aquino once said (joked?) that Abaya could be president does not mean that he should act like one.

Even the President, having the people’s welfare at heart, should not just spring fare increases on more than one million daily passengers of three rail lines in Metro Manila.

Abaya did not bother to conduct public hearings, even just to humor commuters. If he did, he would have heard wisdom in the open exchange. In many cases, plain folk make more sense than swell-headed officials.

Lack of consultations is a hallmark of the Aquino administration. In the creation of a Bangsamoro federal state, for instance, they went into consultation only after Palace and MILF rebel panels already had signed a comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro.

* * *

ONLY ONE PLAN: In the congressional hearings on the DoTC budget and in media interviews, Abaya was asked if fare increases were coming, but he remained non-committal.

Abaya and his cabal in the department are not only guilty of arrogance. They are deceitful in hiding their plans from the people after lulling them for years into assuming state subsidy will continue to ensure low fares.

Was the DoTC gang afraid that public objections to fare increases might derail whatever their business and political plans were/are? But we thought there is only one plan — and that is to SERVE THE PEOPLE.

It is obvious that money considerations, aside from arrogance, have beclouded the motivations and decisions of Abaya and Co.

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MINORITY OPPOSERS?: President Aquino should pull out the ear plugs that Abaya has inserted into his head so he can listen to the people.

(While we are at it, will the President please stop fooling the people by kunwari calling them his “boss”? Tila ginagago po ninyo kami!)

And will Press Secretary Sonny Coloma please stop acting like a cheer leader of the DoTC squad milking the MRT/LRT to fatten business patrons and the Liberal Party. He just said that those objecting to fare hikes are a tiny minority — implying we should not bother with them?

He also said fare increases are long overdue. On that point, we agree. So why has the Aquino administration been asleep the last four years?

Instead of echoing the irritating tunes emanating from the DoTC jukebox, Coloma should give them sound PR and management advice from the moment that plans and policies are being discussed until decisions are to be executed.

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REDUCED SUBSIDY: Actually we subscribe to the idea that state subsidy for MRT/LRT fare be reduced and offset by a corresponding increase in fares, but the proposals should first be discussed openly.

The adjusted fare should be fair, based on the reasonable cost of efficiently transporting one passenger one kilometer — with zero profit if the line is operated by the government.

If private money has been used in putting up the rail service, there must be the standard return on investment. However, the figures should be honestly computed by the regulators and fare-setters, without padding the rates with the rising cost of corruption.

The mathematics involved is no simple linear equation. This means that the more ideas brought to the table in open consultation and the more transparent the process is, the better.

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WHERE FARE HIKE GOES: The riding public is being misled into thinking that the projected fare increase will be spent for improving the safety, efficiency and amenities of the MRT/LRT lines.

However, no firm plan has been put forward to guarantee that this will happen if fares are raised. The indications are that the additional earnings will go to freeing up government banks’ investments into the business.

After the banks get the extra revenue from fares, what will be left for upgrading the rolling stock and improving service? Nothing is sure.

In fact, that must be the reason why more billions had been allocated in the national budget for MRT/LRT rehabilitation. Capital expenditures will not be funded by fare increases.

* * *

NEW CAMI BOARD: Officers for 2015 of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) were elected last Jan. 2 in an organizational meeting at its Bale Balita (House of News) at Clark Freeport from among the Trustees elected during the members’ annual meeting on Dec. 26, 2014.

The new CAMI officers are: Cris Icban Jr., chairman; Ashley Jay Manabat, vice chairman; Federico “Dik” Pascual Jr., president; Ernie Tolentino, vice president/national; Ding Cervantes, vice president/provinces; John Manalili, secretary; Nonnie Pelayo, treasurer; and Vot Vitug, auditor. The other Trustees are: Al Pedroche, Jake Espino, Vet Vitug, Fred Roxas, Max Sangil, Tony Lozano and Abel Cruz.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 6, 2015)

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