The real ‘kamote’

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

An online podcast per–sonality was being critical of participants of a motorcycle road race marathon in Mindanao and ended up irritating a big bike riding high ranking government official who reportedly joined the event. The official reportedly declared: “Don’t compare us with Kamote riders!”

Netizens and motoring media have been commenting about the recently concluded BOSS Ironman 24-hour marathon ride that again ended up with at least two dead and a dozen or more injured riders and bystanders, and damage to property. Of the two known deaths, sources say that the victims were not part of the road race.

As seen in videos, they were ordinary folks coming from work and were accidentally rammed by riders doing high speed overtaking maneuvers in the dark, and another directly hit while crossing the highway. One of the guys killed left behind his wife and three kids. A rider told me that several police officers joined the race (probably using donated bikes by a big corporation?) that collided and ended up with a broken collar bone, etc.

An estimated 1,800 big bike participants and about 100 cars and SUVs took part in the Northern Luzon 24-hour marathon “race” which was part two, after the Mindanao marathon ride. Observers said it was no longer an endurance drive but a full-on race on busy provincial roads through the day and night, with speeds exceeding 100 to 150 kph. Add up all the data and you’re guaranteed serious accidents will happen.

One participant claimed that big bike riders paid around P2,000 each to join, while the fee for cars and SUVs was surely more than double, even as much as P7,000. It has not been determined if the event is a registered business, officially sanctioned or supported by any government agency and if they pay taxes on the estimated P4 million plus earned annually.

Organizers belatedly claimed that they coordinated with local government units where the road race passed through. Why in the first place does the Philippine National Police and the DILG continue to allow the dangerous event to take place on public roads, in violation of multiple traffic laws and speed limits and endangering the public?

Is it because participants are rich guys with big bikes, believing if they ride with law-breaking lawmakers and law enforcers, they themselves are immune? When a bunch of road safety activists decided to bring the matter to members of Congress, they were stumped upon being warned that a member of the public safety committee had participated in the Mindanao run and probably the Luzon run as well.

Instead of being defensive because of their omission, the PNP leadership should investigate the matter to understand the problem and decide if the event can be managed, regulated or simply be stopped. At the very least, the PNP should find out who among the police are the ‘real kamote riders’ that joined the road race?

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Setting up business and doing business in the Philippines should be so simple and standardized that you can do it with your eyes closed. As many CEOs have pointed out in surveys conducted in the past, there should be predictability in doing business at all levels, whether it is the basic business registration, tax compliance, documentation and titling or dealing with regulatory agencies and revenue collecting arms of the government.

Ideally, transactions should be so simple, you won’t need a lawyer or a law firm to deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To be fair, I know of a foreign lady who went to the SEC, followed the signs, lines and instructions and actually succeeded in doing business with the SEC.

Dealing with the LTO should be so simple that you don’t have to go to two or even three different locations to have your delivery trucks and vehicles tested and registered, only to be stopped by ASBUsados or anti-smoke belching enforcers of different cities in Metro Manila. The LTO should be given its rightful status as a “Department” of Motor Vehicles, allowed to collect, appropriate and spend its earnings on its services for the benefit of the public.

Time and again, tourists and travelers have asked why Philippine ports have so many windows and registrations to board boats, to enter municipalities or upon leaving municipalities and tourist destinations. President Bongbong Marcos has repeatedly talked about improving the experience of tourists, but none of his officials at the DOT or DILG and Coast Guard or ARTA have taken steps to reduce the steps, windows and queues in many ports and popular destinations.

More than a week ago, 400 chickens were stopped at the NAIA by the Bureau of Animal Industry and taken to the BAI quarantine area in Quezon City. Shippers and importers howled and protested why the DA was “suddenly imposing new rules or requirements.” The DA replied that the action of the BAI was part of disease prevention, given reports of avian influenza in the areas where the chickens originated.

I checked some of the available information online and what I picked up were reports that went as far back as January. If there were existing cases, then why give permits or allow importation at the onset?

For future importations, permits should only be given after the BAI has checked with their foreign counterparts regarding prevalence of disease, registration of breeder/farm, etc. Once all that is cleared, the applicant should be given a run through of the requirements and processes and should sign off in agreement before being allowed to purchase and import the breeding materials.

Such a standardized system will reduce undue delays, doubts and suspicions of corruption. More often than not, the complaints against government agencies are that they usually don’t follow their own rules or do the process required. After several instances, the public is “surprised” that there are actually rules being followed.

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