Where’s “express” in South Luzon Expressway?

Commuters from south of Metro Manila were greeted yesterday with a standstill traffic due to the closure of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Lane 3 Northbound after Alabang viaduct to give way to the Skyway extension project. Thousands were late for school and work, and hours were wasted because of the heavy traffic which, heaven forbids, could last until December 2020.

Commuters pass the expressway and pay toll fees because of the promise of speed and convenience. Otherwise, they would have taken the secondary and arterial roads. But with the not-so properly planned traffic system, the toll fees become an unneccessary burden.

If the essence theory is to be followed, since SLEX cannot anymore provide the speed and convenience it promises, it loses its right to impose toll fees. It cannot reason out that the Skyway construction is inevitable, and that in the future, convenience will resume. If that is the case, then the charging of toll fees should also be suspended and resume only when the convenience being provided by an expressway returns.

Second, while it may be true that the Skyway being constructed will provide future benefits, the discussion is focused on the “now”. Will the Skyway operator not charge fees in the future once the road becomes operational? If it is also going to charge toll fees, why should the commuters pay pre and post construction? Can’t fees be exacted only once the facility becomes operational?

Moving forward, SLEX should provide a clear plan and implement a traffic scheme that the commuters deserve. Note that SLEX traffic will build up further with the coming semestral break and during the All Saint’s Day leading to Christmas Day. If it cannot, then it should consider removing the toll fees altogether. This is because if the purpose of the thing is gone, what use is that thing for, right?

ROTC: Harap sa likod, harap sa wala?

I’ve had three years of “military” training — one year of Citizen’s Army Training (CAT), and two years of Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC). I also responded to summons for a two-month reservist’s training post college. What I learned: snappy movements facing one direction at a time and hugging a wooden rifle — things that I couldn’t even use in the times of war, or at least in front of a bully.

I must admit, I learned more in a two-session meeting with a karate instructor than those three years I spent from CAT to ROTC and to the reservist’s training. No wonder why President Rodrigo Duterte himself admitted having tricked the military registrar by submitting medical documents that proved he was too sickly to take ROTC, thus exempting him from the requirement.

Picture credit: pna.gov.ph

In House Bill 5113 introduced by Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, it was argued that the ROTC would lead to the “inculcation of the spirit of nationalism, nation building and national preparedness”. But while we also share these motherhood statements, the advocates of ROTC still have to scientifically prove this claim. After graduating in ROTC, for instance, there were rumors of ROTC platoon leaders and battalion commanders mugged or at least threatened by retalliating students. Not the kind of nation-building and national preparedness we expected from ROTC, right?

Section 4 Article 2 of the Philippine Constitution is clear: The Government may call upon the people to defend the State and, in the fulfillment thereof, all citizens may be required, under conditions provided by law, to render personal, military or civil service. Hence, whether to revive ROTC or not is out of the question.

What should be ask is the content of the curriculum. What is the difference between the previous and the proposed ROTC curriculum? Will the students be receive practical trainings on at least how to fend a punch? Will they also be allowed to touch a real gun and not just hug a wooden one? If not, then scrapped that idea.

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.

Why hazing will stay in the Philippines

While it can be argued that there is this “Cain” gene in the blood of human race, the human DNA has evolved with “civility” and a higher level of intelligence inserted in the genetic strands. For that reason, we see countries with almost zero crime rate as they were able to bury the “bad blood” and cultivate more the good one.

In 2018, a student of the University of Sto. Tomas, Atio Castillo, died of hazing. Last week, another student, this time from the Philippine Military Academy, also died adding the number of casualties due to hazing – Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio. With deaths piling up, when will the supposed to be brothers ever learn?

According to Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde, he also underwent hazing and made him to what he is now. He added, though, that hazing is a matter of personal perception on how one accepts or rejects it.

But when the law is clear, perception has no room in the equation. Hazing has been regulated since 1995 by virtue of Republic Act No. 8049, and eventually banned under Republic Act 11053 otherwise known as the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018. The saddest part is, those who are expected to uphold and implement the law in the future are the ones taking part in the barbaric act of accepting brothers — the culprits in the Castillo case are future lawyers, and that of Dormitorio are future law enforcers or protectors of the Filipino people.

While it can be argued that there is this “Cain” gene in the blood of human race, the human DNA has evolved with “civility” and a higher level of intelligence inserted in the genetic strands. For that reason, we see countries with almost zero crime rate as they were able to bury the “bad blood” and cultivate more the good one.

Unfortunately, the case is different in the Philippines. Could this be because of socio-economic and cultural complexity that we have? For example, because “whom you know” weighs more than “what you know” so everyone wants to get closer to the “gang” and the powers that be. Or, is it because we are culturally diverse and there is no such thing as “Filipino-ish sense of unity” that many, especially the youth, are in search of “brotherhood”? But Canada is culturally diverse, too. The same with other countries. So if cultural diversity is the context, couldn’t it be addressed by the national leadership that is supposed to bring everyone on-board and to the same direction and ensuring that “no one is left behind”?

Feel free to share your thoughts.