‘TRAPEC-lay-lay lakad atbp’

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2015 - 9:00am

Yes the new word is: “TRAPEC” as in traffic jams created in the name of APEC. Only in the Philippines will we find angry yet comic response to government failures and lack of priorities. If we gathered the five years worth of mismanagement and major blunders under President Noynoy Aquino, there would be sufficient grounds for an electoral recall, an impeachment, if not an outright walk towards EDSA and not to wave welcome to the APEC delegates. But here in the country of fatalistic and funny Filipinos, we choose to create nicknames, monikers and make fun of the not so funny.

Aside from the new spelling and attachment called TRAPEC, people have sarcastically referred to their FORCED WALK to work last Monday and called it “Alay Lakad” referring to the fund-raising walk that people participate in to help the needy. If only their forced walk for several kilometers actually raised funds for soldiers, the poor etc., the working class victims would have had something to cheer about, but instead it cost them deductions for being late to work. It would be an injustice to the supporters of the “Alay Lakad” to have their name and efforts associated with the forced walk during APEC, so let us call Monday’s event and all other such circumstance as “Lay-lay Lakad” instead!

Some members of media have also jumped in and announced that there is now a “Bay Walk Homeowners Association” who were either evicted from the Roxas Boulevard seawall and hidden out of sight of APEC delegates who might be passing by in their flying limos on the APEC lanes. In the meantime, people mistaken as cast members from the play Les Miserable’ were rounded up in the City of Manila and invited for lunch at the Boy’s Town where they are now effectively being “illegally detained.” No matter how good the intentions of government is, keeping persons against their will simply because they are homeless and are no threat to the public or to themselves looks like a clear case of “illegal detention.”

What is idiotic in this often repeated blunder is that government officials both local or national, always wait until the event or the honored guests are set to arrive before they start relocating street dwellers. Barangay officials, tanods and a host of other people on the ground know these street dwellers by name and location. How difficult is it to work out a solution that respects their status and addresses their needs while keeping up a good front? Government critics will constantly be on the lookout against forced or hypocritical relocation of street dwellers. Even if government could provide housing many street dwellers leave because they need livelihood and proximity. So it’s a damned if you do/damned if you don’t situation.

What about establishing help zones where street dwellers can go to for food, check up and if willing, seek assistance to relocate or gain dwelling. Why would they go to Roxas Boulevard if they know that there is food, medicine and shelter, even mobile showers in another part of the city? The thing is, local and national officials must make a conscious decision and effort to really do something for street dwellers, APEC or none!

After spending an estimated P10 billion and indirectly causing the loss of several billion pesos in private and public sector productivity, no one really knows what real benefits or commercial profits APEC brings to the Philippines. While some people want to fan patriotism and PR, P10 if not P20 billion could pay for much needed health facilities, a couple of colleges or could add security to the SSS or the GSIS funds. It might be a good idea for members of the Senate to “inquire” on what was really accomplished as well as how much was spent and who had the best deals.

There is no doubt that hotels, specialized transport, event organizers, PR firms, and security specialists stand to profit, but as the host and major investor for APEC 2015 what and how much will the People of the Republic of the Philippines and their government get in real terms and real ROI or Return On Investment? From what has been announced there will be no talk about the territorial disputes. We obviously can’t take advantage of any preferential treatment since we barely manufacture anything in the Philippines.

Forgive my cynicism, but if all that expense and trouble is once again all about making the Noynoy Aquino presidency look good, then we can prepare ourselves for a week of post APEC praise release and self serving congratulations from members of the Yellow brigade. It is bad enough that the various APEC related events are beginning to look like an honest to goodness exclusive-members only affair of political and business allies. This more than anything is a major reason why the event was not so “popularly received” or supported as in the past. The whole thing was poorly communicated in terms of why and what’s in it for us. But what makes everything bad is that they held a “fiesta” but forgot to ask their town mates to help in the preparation and join in the celebration.

There is an image on Facebook taken of EDSA where the mass of ordinary motorists were cramped up four abreast while orange lane dividers kept two lanes for the exclusive use of the exclusive. I asked Netizens if they could photoshop the APEC lane and color it yellow just to complete the significance of the photo. I later saw a post of a video of similarly situated motorists stuck in traffic holding their own “noise barrage” just to vent their anger. This more than anything is what APEC 2015 has achieved: It has marginalized the role and importance of ordinary Filipino citizens and angered them even more.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com.

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