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.

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:

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)