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Posts Tagged ‘Senator Kiko Pangilinan’

A gentle reminder to Senator Sotto

August 22, 2011 1 comment

A gentle reminder to Senator Sotto

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/4228-a-gentle-reminder-to-senator-sotto

 

HOW many times have we seen our bus drivers drive like crazy along our major thoroughfares causing accidents and even deaths to innocent commuters and passengers? Wasn’t it only recently that we had a bus literally falling down from the Skyway which cost the lives of several of its passengers? Even some international travel groups have issued advisories saying that driving in Manila can be very hazardous to one’s health. If you trace the root of these problems, you will see that many of these can be prevented if only our officials at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) were more diligent in enforcing our laws rather than just giving these bus companies a mere slap on the wrist.

Business as usual at LTO
For example, in the LTO, there are still many employees who connive with fixers to be able to expedite the application process for driver’s licenses. There was even a story a few years back wherein even a blind man was able to get his own driver’s license from the LTO. A good friend of mine who didn’t even know how to drive was able to get her license recently just because her brother knows someone who works in one of the district offices of the LTO. If the LTO became more strict and prudent in ensuring that the proper steps are followed before a person is given his or her license to drive then I’m sure road accidents and deaths can be dramatically reduced in our country. Sadly, we have seen that bribery and corruption in this agency can literally kill as seen by the number of drivers who are able to ply their route without even being educated about following our road signs, regulations or even knowing how to properly drive.

I hope the present LTO Chief, Virginia Torres, who is allegedly close to the President, will become more hands-on in making sure that this kind of “palakasan” system would finally be put to rest. By doing so, we would have that assurance that our fellow drivers have undergone proper procedures that will make our roads safer than it is today.

Hoping for a well-planned and more efficient bus route
The LTFRB and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) should continue their drive in apprehending, impounding and suspending colorum buses that continue to ply major roads in Metro Manila which have been a major cause of the terrible traffic in Metro Manila. This should not be another “ningas kugon” from our government officials given that our economy, productivity and so many ordinary Filipinos are affected by our traffic situation each day.

I hope to really see the day that we can develop a better bus operations system similar to that of more developed Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. This would take political will from our leaders at the LTFRB since this would mean decreasing or even cancelling the number of franchises being given to our bus companies. The very high number of buses is also the cause of many accidents since our bus drivers have to compete with each other just to be able to secure passengers. This is the reason why even if it is just one or two passengers waiting in the middle of EDSA, buses will really swerve several lanes just to be able to get them. This has caused heavy traffic and worse, accidents to our pedestrians and other motorists.

LTFRB and MMDA should learn to work with our local government units to come up with a long term urban plan that will lessen the number of buses and create a more efficient bus route that will benefit not just the commuters but even the bus drivers and operators who will ultimately, earn more because lesser traffic will mean time and gasoline expenses saved.

Gentle reminder to Senator Tito Sotto
I was quite surprised when Senator Tito Sotto was quick to point out that Senator Kiko Pangilinan was one of those who took part in the 2004 elections scam which led to victory of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Pangilinan simply followed what was stated in the law which was to ensure that the canvassing of votes was to be done as efficiently and as quickly as possible so that no vacuum of power will occur in our country.

In fact, as soon as the Hello Garci fiasco had erupted in 2005, Pangilinan was one of the first ones along with the Hyatt 10 to take a big risk and call on Arroyo to resign for the sake of our country’s future. On the other hand, didn’t Sotto run under the Senatorial line-up of Arroyo in 2007 even when the whole country already knew about Hello Garci and the Fertilizer fund scam? Didn’t Sotto even accept an appointment from Arroyo to serve as Chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board in 2008 and even continued to support her until the end of 2009?

It seems that just by looking at the facts if there is one who is clearly pro-Arroyo here, it isn’t Pangilinan who has always shown his independence when it comes to deciding on matters concerning the welfare of our nation. It would be better perhaps for Senator Sotto to keep quiet rather than say something which would just boomerang back to hurt him.

Comments are welcome at harveykeh@gmail.com

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The Manila Times: More Poverty in the Philippines?

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

More poverty in the Philippines?

by: Harvey S. Keh

The Manila Times

http://www.manilatimes.net/opinion/more-poverty-for-the-philippines/

LAST week, the World Bank released a study which shows that approximately an additional 44 million people from developing countries such as the Philippines may be driven into poverty due to the continuing rise in basic commodities such as wheat, sugar and oil. Just this week, oil prices have already reached a two-year high as mass demonstrations continue to take place in the oil-rich Middle East region particularly in Bahrain and Libya.

According to the report, if the prices continue to rise, many more people will be more vulnerable to malnutrition and then other forms of diseases since they will be forced to consume low cost but less nutritious food. In fact, we can already see this in our country where there is now a high incidence of kidney diseases especially among the poor due to the fact that many of them now rely on instant noodles for their main staple.

These instant noodles are very high in sodium content. That is why more and more Filipinos are now lining up for dialysis treatment. Sadly, a family earning less than P200 a day would not be able to afford a regular dialysis treatment which would often cost at least P1,500 per visit. This is why many poor Filipinos often die without even having the opportunity to be treated properly at a health facility.

Other victims of poverty are our children, some of whom are exposed to many evil vices of society as they are forced to work early at a very young age. I read in a column in another daily that there are now girls as young as 12 years old who sell their bodies for sex to truck drivers in Manila just for P300. According to the columnist, these girls usually have 3 to 4 customers per night and they often perform sexual intercourse at the back of a dirty dump truck.

If the cost of basic commodities continues to rise, we can also expect criminality to rise given that many people will now resort to desperate means just to be able to put food on the table for their families. We can clearly see this in the recent cases of Filipino “drug mules” who work for drug syndicates to bring in illegal drugs into countries like China, Thailand and Indonesia. As former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada always says, a hungry stomach knows no law.

We are an agricultural country. One of the things that our government ought to do is to ensure that proper land reform is implemented. If you drive through the countryside, you will easily see so many idle agricultural lands, which if used properly can easily help ensure our self-sufficiency especially in rice, corn and sugar. By being self-sufficient, we would no longer have to be at the mercy of the rising world prices of these basic goods.

Yet awarding land titles to our farmers is not enough. Our government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform would also need to help by providing our farmers easy access to capital so that they no longer have to be beholden to middlemen who usually end up earning more than the farmers themselves.

Aside from this, proper drying facilities for palay should be set up by our government. These are very much needed to increase the productivity of our farmers. There is so much wastage when the palay is dried on the road as we can see in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac.

Another problem our agricultural sector is the exodus from the farms of many farmers who seek better opportunities to elsewhere. Farming no longer provides them the income that they need to support their families. Not many people know this but many of our farmers earn less than P 1,000 a month because much of their income goes to paying off their loans while they sell their produce at a very low price to middlemen who are the ones who have access to transportation and facilities to bring the goods to the market Thus, it would also be good if our government would be able to develop more facilities and infrastructure such as roads and trading centers that would allow farmers to directly sell their goods to the market instead of passing through the middlemen. By doing this, more farmers would be encouraged to continue farming because they would be earning better income for their families.

Talking about agriculture, in our country the efforts of Senator Kiko Pangilinan and Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala to bring together different stakeholders in the agricultural sector is definitely laudable. A few weeks ago, they gathered almost 200 of these stakeholders in Antipolo to dialogue with each other and come up with a common vision and framework toward improving the productivity of our agricultural industry by the year 2025. We need more public leaders like them who are not all talk. Pangilinan and Alcala are showing that if the public and the private sector can continue to synergize efforts, it won’t be long before our country can defeat poverty through agricultural self-sufficiency.

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Thank you very much to Miriam College, St. Scholastica’s College, Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Malayan Colleges Laguna for inviting our Kaya Natin! Caravan of Good Governance to their schools. We hope to be able to visit more academic institutions in the coming months.

For those who want to support our efforts in the promotion of good governance and ethical leadership, we are now selling Kaya Natin! Movement T-Shirts at only P 200 each. To order, you can contact Kai Pastores at (02) 434-1458 or send an e-mail to kai.pastores@gmail.com.

Send comments to harveykeh@gmail.com and opinion@manilatimes.net. Follow me at http://www.twitter.com/harveykeh.