Stupidity begets even more stupidity
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00am

This October 20 is the 75th anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings. To mark this historic event, Veterans Bank, in cooperation with the Leyte provincial government, the city government of Tacloban, and Robinson's Place Tacloban, will open an exhibit called “War of our Fathers,” the Fight for Freedom, in honor of World War II veterans. The exhibit opens October 18 at 4 p.m. at the Robinson's Place Tacloban expansion activity area.

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I had a queasy feeling in my stomach the moment I saw presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo all plopped down on the floor of a jeepney in response to a challenge pertaining to Metro Manila's horrendous traffic. To me, the stunt, whether in response to something or just Panelo's own way of having fun, will not prove, or much less, solve anything.

On the other hand, I feared it would trigger something even more stupid than the stunt itself. Well, my fear was right on the money. No sooner had the photo of Panelo grace the front page of the country's leading broadsheet than an obscure congressman wasted no time suggesting a law that would require all elected and appointed government officials to take public transport to and from work every Monday.

This is the most stupid proposal if I ever heard one. If I may be allowed to make a counter-suggestion of my own, it is to throw into jail any lawmaker who tries to waste everybody's time with useless ideas. The swiftness with which this lawmaker emerged from obscurity with a hare-brained proposal makes me suspect complicity in the original stunt involving Panelo. Maybe it was all a setup to pave the way for the inane follow-up.

Requiring all government officials, whether elected or appointed, to take public transport every Monday will not solve the traffic problem in Metro Manila. Even if we believe the calculation of the proponent that his requirement will effectively reduce traffic volume in the Metro, he seems to conveniently forget that his proposal only involves one day. That means there will still be humongous traffic six days of the week.

The proponent apparently also failed to consider the weather. What if all government officials get stranded in the rains and floods. That could mean the entire government loses productivity at the very least, or suffers a complete shutdown at worst. And these dire consequences can spread over days if the officials get sick. And if they require medical assistance or sickness benefits, that is more government money needlessly down the drain.

And we have not yet even considered the security risks to these officials who, according to the stupid proposal, must include cabinet secretaries and top congress leaders like the Senate president and the speaker. Members of the judiciary all the way to the Supreme Court, with sensitive cases under their portfolios, will also be made to take the bus, jeepney or tricycle and become sitting ducks, according to this foolishness.

Stupidity cannot solve a problem like choking traffic congestion that requires seriousness and pragmatism, not frivolity. The reason why nothing seems to work with regard to solving the Metro's traffic problem is because the solution required should have been thought of 20 years ago. Any bright idea of consequence that pops up today will be too late by the time it is implemented if it is not configured for conditions 20 years ahead.

As to that stupid Monday proposal, I cannot blame the proponent entirely as it was inspired by the original stupidity of Panelo in succumbing to the stupid challenge of taking public transport to work. Again, such a stunt does not prove or solve anything. All it did was sell newspapers and launch the candidacy of Panelo for the Senate in 2022.

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