Why the Philippine transportation sector players are blackmailing each other

Jeepney drivers from the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), members of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO) and Stop and GO Coalition staged a nationwide transport strike on Monday, September 30, to protest government’s plan to totally phase out jeepneys by 2020. The strike, according to the jeepney drivers and operators, was considered a success while the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) described the effort as useless with the result as “an ordinary Monday morning rush hour”.

But while government agencies claim that the strike was not successful, they offered free rides to stranded passengers while the LTFRB threatened to cancel or suspend the franchises of participating jeepney drivers and operators. The public’s opinion was divided with some calling the threat as being insensitive to the plight of the operators and drivers.

But when one looks at the bigger picture, both the LTFRB and the jeepney drivers and operators are simply blackmailing each other. The former threatens to cancel franchises while the latter uses the plight of the commuters to intimidate. In the end, the commuters are the ones suffering. But why are they doing these?

First, some of the LTFRB personnel benefited largely from the issuance of colorum franchises so all the agency can do is threaten. While five LTFRB personnel have been sacked and 44 others have been transferred, this did not stop the issues hounding the agency that even prompted the senate last year to probe on new anomalies. In a sense, LTFRB seems to tell the drivers, particularly the colorum ones: Don’t join the strike or we’ll cancel the colorum franchises we gave you.

Otherwise, if the LTFRB is serious, it could have cancelled the franchises of those who joined the strikes since its officials are always bragging about the bases for cancellation. But how many franchises have been cancelled to date? Only 20 and that was for the strike done in 2017.No doubt LTFRB Chief Martin Delgra earned the monicker of “Boy Banta”. And, more so, it should have cleaned its database, posted the list of colorum vehicles, and let the traffic enforcers apprehend them.

LTFRB;s inefficiency and being prone to temptation now becomes the source of confidence of the drivers and operators. In fact, there are drivers who claim to have paid P288,000 to P300,000 to LTFRB personnel. Who will return the money, then? Even those sacked were not reported to have returned the money to their victims. So they seem to be saying: Cancel our franchise and we’ll open a can of worms.

The drivers and operators, too, find their confidence on the weakness of the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Annually, vehicles are being examined for their road worthiness. But, how come dilapidated jeepney units and those unfit for public transportation still pass the exams and continue to operate?

Lastly, while the commuters can just but complain, they find the situation hopeless. Whether they like it or not, the jeepneys still provide the cheapest and readily available source of transportation. The mass transit systems are always problematic and the buses, particularly those in Metro Manila, are not always available particularly in the arterial roads.

The problem in the public transportation industry are the bones in the closet of the stakeholders from the part of the government. If the government is really serious in preventing strikes and providing a convenient public transport system, the best way to start is to clean its closets. If it can really cancel the franchises of those erring jeepney operators and drivers, so be it. But at the same time, cancel or remove also from the government employee registry the erring personnel and not just transfer them. If the transportation franchise is just a privilege, so is serving the government.

Postponing Barangay and SK Elections and Democracy

Does the looming postponement of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections depict something?

While we are still focused on “hazing” issues and the human rights situation, the national lawmakers in both chambers are cooking up for the postponement of the Barangay and SK elections. According to Senator Francis Tolentino, “the postponement of previous barangay elections has limited the term of service of current officials to only two years, which he said is not enough for them to conduct their training, perform their mandates, as well as the new directives issued by President Rodrigo Duterte regarding cleanup operations.”

While his thoughts are noble for the hapless barangay officials, a disservice to the people is clearly apparent. The Senator and his fellow Congressmen are not looking into the bottom of why the village elections keeps to be postponed again and again, or are simply trying to be naive? It is becoming clear that the barangay and local elections are a good way to reward “performing” barangay and even SK officials. Because they “facilitated” the election of administration candidates last May 2019, isn’t it but right to reward them with a free term extension?

The level of democracy is defined among others by the regularity of elections. The more regular the elections, the higher the level of democracy. But while we bear with the sacrifices of the “short-termed” barangay and SK officials, we should also look at the bigger picture. If elections is being used as a carrot-and-stick, doesn’t this reflect the kind of governance that President Rodrigo Duterte has? Note that the President already postponed thrice the elections. Barangay and SK elections were already postponed from October 2016 to October 2017, but was further pushed back to May 2018 after Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10952.

The current political environment is already being called as “repressive” and “less democratic” by government critics. Does this postponement support or debunk their claims?

Please leave your comments below.

Car towing and clamping ordinances: Passing the buck of LGU’s negligence

Major local government units in the region and in some other parts of the country as well are actively implementing their car towing and clamping ordinances. While erring drivers can only whine and scratch their heads, local officials are getting their paychecks for inefficiency if not laughing their way for their negligence.

Republic Act 9160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of the Philippines is clear:

Section 16. General Welfare. – Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants.

Along with that provision is a mandate that :

(c) The local government units shall, in conformity with existing laws, continue to prepare their respective comprehensive land use plans enacted through zoning ordinances which shall be the primary and dominant bases for the future use of land resources: Provided. That the requirements for food production, human settlements, and industrial expansion shall be taken into consideration in the preparation of such plans.

Among the laws local government units are supposed conform with, and implement, is the National Building Code of the Philippines. Said Code clearly provides the ratio of parking slot requirements for every building that is to be constructed and occupied.

No person or entity can begin construction without the construction permit from the local government. In most cases, no one can also occupy the building constructed without the occupancy permit, again, issued by the local government.

But while local government units are cashing in on these permits, the real intent of the National Building Code is sidelined. Buildings appear without full compliance to the requirements including the provision of car parking slots. And who bears the burden? The car owners especially those who faithfully complied with their obligations as they availed of the privileges of owning a vehicle.

Unfortunately, the balance always tilt in favor of the government particularly of local officials who have reserved parking slots in government buildings and in some commercial establishments when in fact, it is their very negligence that caused this car boom. Had they been strict with implementing the law, people would have second thoughts buying cars. (Note: we are only talking here about parking requirements and not even traffic management and public transportation.) And we won’t be wasting public debate and feeding also the inefficiency of Congressmen who have been considering time and again passing the “no-garage no-car” bill.

Below is the table of parking requirements per type of building or unit, or floor use based on Rule VII of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the National Building Code:

TYPE OF OCCUPANCY PARKING REQUIREMENTS
Low income single detached living unit with individual lots not more than 100m² Pooled parking: 1 slot/10 units
Multi-family living units regardless of no. of stories with average living floor area of 50m² 1 slot/8 units
Multi-family living units regardless of no. of stories with average living floor area of above 50m² to 100m² 1 slot/ 4 units
Multi-family living units regardless of no. of stories with average living floor area of more than 100m² 1 slot/ unit
Hotels 1 slot/ 10 rooms
Residential hotels and aparteles 1 slot/ 5 units
Motels 1 slot/ unit
Shopping centers 1 slot/ 100m²
Markets 1 slot/ 150m²
Restaurants, fast food outlets, bars and beerhouses 1 slot/ 30m² of customer area
Nightclubs, supper clubs and theater-restaurants 1 slot/ 20m² of customer area
Office building 1 slot/ 125m² of gross floor area
Pension/ boarding/ lodging houses 1 slot/ 20 beds
Other buildings in business and commercial zones 1 slot/ 125m² of gross floor area
Public assembly buildings 1 slot/ 50m² of spectator area
Places of worship and funerary parlors 1 slot/ 50m² of congregation area
Elementary schools, secondary schools, vocational and trade schools 1 slot/ 10 classrooms
College and universities 1 slot/ 5 classrooms
Hospitals 1 slot/ 25 beds
Bowling alleys 1 slot/ 4 alleys
Amusement centers 1 slot/ 50m² of gross floor area
Clubhouses, beach houses, etc. 1 slot/ 100m² of gross floor area
Factories, manufacturing, mercantile, warehouses and storage bin 1 slot/ 1000m² of gross floor area
Tourist bus parking 2 bus slots/ hotel or theater restaurant

Parking slots are defined as follows:

  • The size of an average automobile (car) parking slot must be computed at 2.50 meters by 5.00 meters for perpendicular or diagonal parking and at 2.15 meters by 6.00 meters for parallel parking.
  • A standard truck or bus parking/loading slot must be computed at a minimum of 3.60 meters by 12.00 meters.
  • An articulated truck slot must be computed at a minimum of 3.60 meters by 18.00 meters which should be sufficient to accommodate a 12.00 meters container van or bulk carrier and a long/hooded prime mover.

(Original Source here)