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The Kuliglig Revolt of 2010

Last Wednesday, a hundred or so “Kuliglig” drivers (home-made tricycles) staged the Kuliglig Revolt of 2010, a protest rally that ended up in a blood bath between the protesters and police officers. After years of doing things their way, the drivers were not about to let Manila City Hall or Mayor Lim tell them what to do.

It did not matter if their kuligligs could not be registered, the drivers had no licenses, no insurance, no permits to operate. As far as they were concerned there were too many of them already and they have been in existence for several years paying tong to some traffic cops or barangay officials.

So just like the thousands of people who think poverty gives them the right to be a law unto themselves and to be violent, the kuliglig drivers aimed their anger on the police. Please don’t treat this as an isolated incident.

While everyone will talk about the violence, no one has paid attention to the ANARCHY.

When the national and the local governments allow or tolerate any individual or group to ignore, violate or be a law unto themselves, the problem will almost always escalate to violence and eventually anarchy.

Whether it is a bunch of kuliglig drivers at Liwasang Bonifacio or warlords standing over corpses in Maguindanao, the bottom line is that government allowed them by commission or omission.

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If President Noynoy Aquino wants to know the right problem: it is the failure of government, past and present, to revisit laws and policies that have become subject to abuse or incompetence. It is the attitude of denial of government officials and leaders who can’t be bothered to correct mistakes or problems that have been discovered along the way.

Whether it’s the law on squatters, the Local government code, or laws governing the transport system. To revisit and correct those mistakes would be more useful now than the truth committee.

For instance, the Department of Transportation and Communication is one of those MEGA departments that straddle two major industries. It is an absolute disservice to the industries it covers, that only one set of officials with limited competencies is responsible for both. Why not break up the DOTC into two?

The same thing goes for the Department on Environment and Natural Resources, the reason our Environment is going to hell is because all focus is on reaping and raping our natural resources while minimal inputs and support are given to the environment side.

As far as the anarchy on the streets are concerned, it seems no one has admitted that giving local governments and officials supervisory control over tricycles and even jeepneys is tantamount to authorized conflict of interest.

How can elected local officials be given control over tricycles or jeepneys when those operators and drivers are voters as well as a source of legal or illegal income for local governments? A benefactor would never be comfortable or secure with the idea of disciplining his patron. That’s how the former Mayor Gozos of Lipa lost his post, by trying to implement discipline to drivers.

We have all the laws we need but it is in the failure to implement the law where the anarchy begins. The LTFRB is supposed to be in-charge of supervisory control over the operation of public transport not a Mayor or barangay captain.

Between the DOTC and Department of Trade and Industry, so many laws have been broken in terms of the design, safety and manufacture of “commercial” vehicles in the Philippines.

While government goes after “right hand” or second hand imports because of lobbyists, all administrations including the Aquino government, have done nothing to stop and regain control over supervision on the design standards and regulation of commercial vehicles. Even the LTO no longer bothers to really check. Their enforcement units stop cars and vans but never tricycles blocking the center lane and refusing to move aside.

We have trucks pretending to be jeepneys, tricycles that can take five passengers instead of two plus one back rider, we have AUVs where the panels have been doubled in height. In Negros there are trucks where the body is dangerously wider than the front resulting in off-set collisions.

Instead of filing a redundant bill, what Senator Tito Sotto should do is call all the agency heads to the Senate and give them hell for dereliction of duty and failure to enforce the full force of the laws! All vehicles have set capacities in terms of passengers or cargo but no one enforces them. That’s why our roads collapse due to overweight trucks.

If Senator Sotto is up to the challenge, why not investigate why jeepneys all over the Philippines have an “Untouchable” status just by having a Sampaguita on his windshield or a small white towel by his side mirror.

Why are jeepneys untouchable even in the city of Makati where their anti-pollution units don’t give a damn if they block C-5 as long as they flag down everybody for smog tests but never arrest jeepneys for blocking Buendia, Makati avenue or running a red light?

In terms of illegal gains, jueteng is No. 1, drugs is No. 2 and tong collected from jeepneys, tricycles and buses is No. 3. To add insult to injury, we the taxpayers are the ones who live in fear of violating the law because of fines and inconvenience.

Imagine: 10 pesos and you’re King of the Road in a nation of anarchy.

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 “There’s Something You Should Know About Me” is a book written by “Special” and “Normal” teens and tweens that will be launched this Sunday Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. at Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street at the Fort.

Don’t say you know or understand your children until you’ve read the book because this book tells us adults what the kids have in mind and in their hearts! See you there.

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 (Utalk2ctalk@gmail.com)

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