Even the innocent get burned
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Stand too close to the fire and you can get burned. You could also be doing your job and still get shot. That’s the lesson that Sen. JV Ejercito and officials of Maynilad learned separately in the past week.

Sen. JV Ejercito who is known to be a Big Bike rider now calls himself as the most unpopular biker in the country after he placed his signature on the law sponsored by Sen. Dick Gordon requiring all motorcycles to have large plate numbers front and back. Bikers expected JV Ejercito to violently oppose or object to the law knowing fully well that large metal license plates will affect the aerodynamics, stability, and fuel consumption of motorcycles. Worst, in the event of a collision or the front plate tearing off, it could turn into a deadly flying object that could kill someone.

JV Ejercito obviously knows all of that, and more. According to Senator Ejercito he signed along with other senators for two reasons. Visible plates, he believes, will reduce the harassment and discrimination against motorcycle riders particularly at police checkpoints. JV also knows that the most crucial part of the legislation is when they draft the IRR or Implementing Rules and Regulations, which is the recipe or the fine details where they decide the size, type and placement of motorcycle plates. This early, there are already consultations regarding the use of an RFID and decal for the front plate. JV Ejercito supported Dick Gordon in order to keep the door open for constructive engagement instead of destructive confrontation on the Senate floor, unfortunately many bikers immediately assumed the worst, instead of meeting up with their biking buddy in the Senate. If they did they could have saved themselves the sleepless nights and public display of immaturity.

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The Corporate Comms people of Maynilad recently learned that even when you are quietly doing a good job, you are not exempt or immune from being dragged into someone else’s mess. At the height of the water crisis experienced by Manila Water, a Netizen made claims that one reason Manila Water went dry was because of a by-pass valve that was being controlled by Maynilad. This, as it turns out was totally false if not malicious, but it achieved the desired effect of diverting part of the public anger toward Maynilad who had to go out of their way to defend themselves from a false accusation. This sort of thing can be expected in this day and age of social media where non-players actually jump in just to create chaos or disruption and it is just one of the things communications and public relations people need to be prepared for. Like I always teach my clients and students: Always anticipate something that can fall out of the sky or pop out of media, social or otherwise.

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After so many experiments and ideas, our friends at the Metro Manila Development Authority are starting to realize that the best way to fix EDSA is not to re-invent the wheel but to simply do what they do best; plain old simple enforcement!

Right after labor authorities announced the end to the “Boundary System” of compensation for bus drivers and shifted to fixed salaries, the MMDA strictly implemented the Yellow Lane rule that limits buses within the bus lanes only. The sight of buses corralled caught so much attention that people started sharing images on social media. Equally surprising for many was the fact that, that simple display of political will and law enforcement immediately resulted in a better and faster flow of traffic along EDSA. The only sad commentary was that MMDA traffic enforcers literally had to stand watch along the 23-kilometer stretch of the road endangering themselves and their health in the performance of their duty.

This of course can easily be addressed or solved by the DPWH who has the authority and funding to place lane separators that would fence in the buses. This has been done in the past but time and again the bus lobby would prevail and the barriers would be removed. My sources at the MMDA have long lamented the fact that the DPWH has focused primarily on road re-blocking but has not prioritized fabrication and deployment of the concrete lane separators. But now that the boundary system has been disallowed and the MMDA has irrefutable proof that corralling buses really helps ease traffic, there is no reason for the DPWH to delay making and placing the separators because the country is losing billions of pesos daily due to the traffic on EDSA.

Once the lane separators for buses are deployed, the MMDA can then move on to the next step of establishing the dedicated motorcycle lane and corralling all riders inside that safe zone for bikers since that is now the focus of attention among motorists. With buses confined to the Yellow lane, the motorcycle riders are now the ones zigzagging across lanes causing other drivers to brake, swerve, or slow down to avoid collisions or accidents. Many responsible motorcycle riders support the dedicated lane idea as long as the lane is protected with concrete barriers to insure biker’s safety. At this stage, motorists using EDSA who want safe and faster travel must all make enough noise to call the President’s attention that all he needs to do is to shake up the DPWH to act on the matter. No need for emergency powers just to make concrete barriers, sir.

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

DICK GORDON JV EJERCITO
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