Remembering the ugly days of ANCAR permits
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - June 19, 2019 - 12:00am

Today is the 158th birth anniversary of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who was an accomplished writer and got the scorn of the Spanish officials who still controlled the Philippines. There is no doubt that Dr. Jose Rizal belonged to the rich and landed Filipinos --an illustrado as they called it-- because he could afford to live and study in Europe.

Years ago, I went to the town of Dapitan where he was exiled and I learned that Dr. Rizal had to communicate in the Cebuano tongue in order to be understood. In exile, he realized that Tagalog, his native language, was not spoken in many parts of the Philippines.

As one of his many quotes, Dr. Jose Rizal said: “Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda.” In English it means “He who does not love his own language is worse than an animal and smelly fish.” Let me point out that our national hero must have written this piece when he was already in exile and found out that his fellow Filipinos did not speak his native tongue and he had to learn to speak the Cebuano tongue. Remember, this was written during the Spanish times, when Tagalog was not even officially noted by the Spaniards. Tagalog only became known when most of the revolutionaries spoke the Tagalog language and wanted Tagalog to be the national language of Filipinos.

This should give you an idea why during the last Independence Day celebration, the social media networks noticed that few Filipinos displayed the Philippine flag in their homes. Go abroad and you will find that Filipinos do not have a Filipino organization…but rather a Tagalog ethnic group, an Ilonggo group, Ilocanos, Cebuanos, Waray, Tausug, and many other spoken language groups in the Philippines. But let me say this; that Filipinos of different language groups or regions are united in calling Dr. Jose Rizal their national hero!

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I belatedly learned that our good friend, former president and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was in Cebu the other day during her final days as speaker. House Speaker Arroyo came to Cebu to visit two of the roll-on/roll-off ports in southern Cebu built during her stint as the country’s president. These RO/RO ports are the ones in Taloot in Argao, and Liloan in Santander.

Indeed, the theme “Strong Republic, Nautical Highway” was the backbone program of GMA’s administration. I had a small role in creating this program because before GMA took over the presidency the entire nation was held hostage by the so-called Anti-Carnapping (ANCAR) permits that millennials no longer have any idea of. This was one issue that as a journalist, I kept on harping about to the point that during one dinner with my publisher and mentor, the late Max Soliven, he asked me to explain what the ANCAR permit was about and why this was my pet peeve!

The ANCAR permit was simple; you cannot send your car on board a vessel unless you get an ANCAR permit which says that your car wasn’t stolen. But in the end, even if you bought a brand-new car one day and sent it to Ormoc the following day, you would still have to get an ANCAR permit to prove that your car wasn’t stolen.

When then MetroDiscom chief, now Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson was in Metro Cebu, they asked me to talk about the ANCAR permit issue and I simply asked Ping Lacson if he believes in the principle of innocence until your guilt is proven? He answered yes, then I threw back the question for the need for an ANCAR permit when it considers all vehicles to be stolen until the permits give you a clearance that your car wasn’t stolen at all!

So when GMA assumed as president, her DOTC Secretary Bebot Alvarez (he became House Speaker whom GMA replaced), called me and he came to Cebu to ask me how to remove the ANCAR permit and all it took was a presidential directive and voila, it was gone! Hence, “Strong Republic, Nautical Highway” was super successful and RO/RO vessels have become part of our tourism development. This was truly one economic contribution that GMA gave to the nation.

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