Dear future President
COUNTER FLOW - James Deakin (The Philippine Star) - May 3, 2016 - 10:00am

So this is it. We’re on the home stretch. In just over a week, one of you will become President-elect. Now this article may seem like the equivalent of having two seconds left in the game and taking a “Hail Mary” shot across the court when you’re two points down, but then again, just as a Sicilian is said to never refuse a request on his daughter’s wedding day, a politician is said to be much the same during a campaign period. So here goes.

If you happen to win, that would mean that you have the trust and confidence of the majority of the Filipino people. But winning trust and maintaining it are two completely different things. Just ask the outgoing president. But follow these simple tips and I guarantee you that you will not only keep that trust and confidence but gain the support and respect from the most underestimated bloc votes out there––the Filipino road user. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Create a special task force that does nothing but enforce traffic laws as vehemently as you would any other law. I’m talking about a full military-grade assault on traffic discipline. Show them that you are as serious about restoring order on our roads as you are about your own security. Why? Because we will feel that immediately. And if we feel change, we can be a part of it. 

So far traffic has been regarded as something too trivial for the president to deal with personally and has always been something delegated to much lower ranks. I would normally see the logic in that. But in our case, it is kind of like leaving a problem child alone with the cheapest babysitter you could get because you, as a parent, have much more important things to do––like make money, keep up appearances and provide a beautiful home that your guests will be impressed by. 

How can you expect people to believe that anything is different when the one thing that rich, poor and middle class all experience every single day is ruled by anarchy? By taking a zero-tolerance approach to this issue, not just would you instantly win over the undying affection of millions of motorists, you could actually create a new revenue stream for the government. It’s win-win. Like finding a cure for cancer.

My plan is: instead of asking the MMDA to enforce this, which would be like asking them to staple jello to the wall, try putting together an elite task force that do nothing but specialize in weeding out these vermin from our roads. Give them the full support of the MMDA CCTV headquarters, pay them very well, give them first class equipment like proper big bikes and proper uniforms, and send them out on the roads body cameras to document the confrontations.

Then open up an official YouTube channel or Facebook page that includes a wall of shame and post the best clips. Make dash cams mandatory on all cars and have a section there where motorists can file complaints and upload their own pictures and/or video of abusive convoys, counter-flowers and include a running report of how many people have been caught and how much has been raised. Believe me, this will be a hit. There are already Facebook pages making a fortune doing just this. 

Secondly, and I don’t mean in order of priority, get serious about the environment.

Seriously. We’re a disgrace right now. If you can’t stop global warming, at least show that you’re willing to do something to slow it down. Try eliminating the taxes on hybrids, EVs or alternative fueled vehicles and offering incentives like half price registrations and no coding.

Think about it. If you could subsidize the charges for registration, make it tax-free, and exempt all hybrid and EVs from coding, wouldn’t that send the right message? Also, while we’re on it, why not make it compulsory for all new taxi franchises to use a hybrid. The way I see it, without taxes, the Prius should come in at just over a million bucks. That is not too far off what some of them are already paying for an Altis; and assuming they get double the mileage, which is a fairly conservative estimate, they’ll save approximately a thousand pesos a day in gas, which should give them a return of investment on the difference in one year max.

With the taxi problem solved, the next step is the jeepneys, buses and the tricycles. Enough is enough. No politician wants to touch this because it’s considered anti-poor. If that’s true, its still a whole lot better than being anti-earth. Put the damn things on Electric power, LPG or CNG already. And please don’t talk to me about a lack of funds. If you can spend a billion pesos on getting elected…

If we continue to act like the sick man of Asia, we will be treated like it. We need to set better standards for ourselves. I have yet to meet a single person that said they wouldn’t buy a hybrid if the price was comparable to the full gasoline equivalent. It all comes down to cost. Someone’s got to absorb it and who better than the very people who claim to be the saviors of the world? Now’s your chance.

Thirdly, do something about those wretched buses. Please. You will not get anyone to cooperate with anything you want them to do while you have these icons of anarchy molly coddled by the authorities. Seriously. If you can just achieve this alone, you should be stamped on the one peso coin. 

Change seems to be the biggest catchword this campaign period. Regardless of who wins, there’s no denying that it is a word that has resonated among Filipinos both here and abroad. In other words, we want it. People are even willing to kill for it––or at very least vote for someone who promises to do it for them. If you’re serious about a making change, try making a real statement by doing something just as drastic with traffic. As it is, it embodies all the worst traits of the Filipino, and if left untreated, becomes highly contagious.

Philstar
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