Dry Independence Day

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2013 - 12:00am

It used to be that flags were flown in houses and cars for Independence Day. No longer. There were hardly any flag sellers at street corners. I wonder why. Is it because the government did not publicize the program and preparations?

With 3 years of the Aquino administration finished, people are feeling no independence or freedom from so many problems. Among them we still have:

1. The NPA problem: Recently the NPA rebels killed 9 SAF policemen in Allacapan, Cagayan. Encounters were recorded in Compostela Valley, Surigao Del Sur, Agusan Del Sur, and Negros Occidental.

2. The Abu Sayyaf problem: The Abu Sayyaf rebels killed 8 marines in Patikul, Sulu. Not too long ago, they killed 11 marines in Basilan.

3. The illegal drug problem: POEA reports 1,700,000 drug users. Drug dealers operate openly all over the country.

4. The airport problem: The NAIA 3 is not fully operational, NAIA 1 has ceilings falling down. There is congestion of flights resulting in so many delays. MIAA is still downgraded to Category 2. Scanners and X-rays in domestic airports are out of order. There is lack of chairs in airport waiting rooms. The airconditioning systems are not working.

5. LTO has no car plates to issue for more than a year now. Also plastic driver license cards are also not available.

6. The Mindanao power crisis is unresolved with 8-hour long brownouts happening in 17 Mindanao provinces. The repairs of Agus 1 and Palangui 2 hydroelectric power plants are delayed.

7. There are 11.1 million unemployed Filipinos according to SWS.

8. There are still shortages of classrooms, teachers, desks and textbooks.

9. Electricity rates keep going up. The Philippines has the 2nd highest electricity charges in Asia.

10. Water rates are high too with Maynilad and Manila Water asking for an 8% and 5% increase again.

11. No less than President Aquino has complained against the bad traffic situation. There are so many traffic accidents resulting in 2,000 deaths.

12. Jueteng is still in full swing. The plan to abolish STL has not been implemented.

13. Illegal logging is continuing. There is no reforestation program ongoing.

14. Dredging of Laguna de Bay has not started.

15. The HIV/AIDS problem is increasing.

16. Bigtime smuggling is going on. Rice, sugar, cars, drugs, even garlic and onions are being brought in through several ports.

17. Business organizations are calling for a stop to corruption, government flip-flopping, and bureaucratic red tape.

18. The Hacienda Luisita distribution of land to tenants has not been accomplished.

19. The PPP projects have not taken off.

20. Agricultural growth is still at a low 3.3%. 5,000 hectares of corn farms dried up in Isabela.

CBCP president, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu urged President Aquino to reveal “the true state of the nation.”

Frequent DOTC changes

The Philippine Travel Agencies Administration (PTAA) and the Federation of Tourism Industries of the Philippines (FTIP) asked the government to solve the congestion problem at the NAIA.

The MIAA has denied the issuance of landing permits to Jet Airways of India and Oman Airways due to airport congestion.

Domestic flights have been regularly delayed due to congestion at NAIA.

The airport problem is probably caused by the frequent change of DOTC secretaries, three times in less than 3 years.

Even the bidding of DOTC projects keeps being postponed.

Zero casualty again?

It was so long ago that the government announced a zero casualty target for calamities. After that announcement thousands died at Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental in the wake of typhoon Pablo.

Up to now 60,000 squatters in Metro Manila riverbanks have not been resettled. Laguna de Bay and Metro Manila esteros have not been dredged.

DILG Sec. Mar Roxas announced another zero casualty target. Will it be accomplished this time around? I doubt it.

Commuters stranded

The rains have started. Streets are flooded. Thousands of commuters are stranded. They have to wait up to 3 hours to get a ride home. This is another big problem for DOTC.

With the rainy season, the MRT and LRT should operate longer to midnight.

Even in the provinces there is lack of transportation facilities. You see dozens of passengers riding on the roof of jeepneys.

More jobless Filipinos

The National Statistics Office (NSO) has reported that unemployment has reached a 3-year high of 7.5% in April, up from 6.9% last year.

The NSO blamed adverse weather condition for a decline in agriculture. This latest negative report on the increase in joblessness raises a big question mark on the 7.8% GDP growth reported for the 1st quarter.

“The high unemployment rate casts a doubt on the strength of the economic growth and its sustainability” according to Jonathan Ravelas, BDO chief market strategist. Former DBM Sec. Benjamin Diokno questions the growth rate as a “fast growing economy is supposed to create more jobs, no less.”

The sad fact remains that no new foreign investments creating jobs have come in.

TIDBITS: Dubai, a small country of 2.1 million people, is targeting 20 million tourists this year. One big advantage. They have the biggest duty free shopping area in the world. Thousands of Filipinos work at the Dubai airport and nearby hotels.

STAR Columnist Bobbit Avila complains that his flight from NAIA 3 to Cebu was 3 hours delayed.

Mayor-elect Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno visited the Manila City Jail and distributed 4,000 boxes of goods including soap and toothpaste. 

The peso weakened to P 43.20 to $1, Tuesday the lowest in one year. The OFWs are happy but a strong dollar means more expensive imports and higher prices.

President Aquino vetoed 70 house bills, a record high. It means defective legislation on the part of the House.

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