Derailment and Congestion: New Indicators of Progress (Part 1 of 2 )

By Bernadine Racoma as originally posted at Blog Watch, Philippine Online Chronicles.

Just like the brow-raising 2013 statement on traffic congestion being a sign of a booming economy, the presidential communications/spinmeisters group is once more playing a heavy spin on congested ports. Yes, they’re saying it’s also a sign of an improving economy.

We don’t intend to argue with that logic. Many columnists are already having a feast over such a theoretically sound but practically insipid spin. However, we would just like to add the very important point the Palace failed to mention. Congested roads and ports also mean clear government incompetence. They may also want to add the country’s power problems. Yes, the economy is indeed growing as demand for power rises just like how the Aquino government’s incompetence is showing with its failure to address the need for more power plants. Additionally, the government may also want to cite the derailment and stalling problems in the MRT and PNR as further proofs of economic progress. Certainly, many people won’t be using these transportation systems if they don’t have money. These trains are overloaded and overused because there is so much economic activity in the Philippines!

But of course, we could only resort to sarcasm to express our disappointment over the lame spins the government can offer. After all, as Aquino’s PR team fondly claims, the Aquino government is still better than its predecessor. Aquino insists that he is not a thief so people should just be happy that he’s the president.

Bad Derailment

DOTC Secretary Emilio Abaya claims that the MRT accident is the result of human error so the government has nothing to do with it. Just ignore the fact that Abaya kept apologizing while the MRT operators mostly refused to be interviewed. The MRT accident caused the injury of at least 38 people. According to Abaya, the fault was in the coordination of those involved in attempting to troubleshoot the problem. In a press conference, he said that there was no material failure and that the system would have worked as intended if the proper procedures were followed.

A probe has already been undertaken by the Pasay Police, focusing on the alleged negligence of the two drivers. Some would complain that zeroing in on the drivers while not holding the bigwigs accountable is unfair. However, we just have to take note that there have already been three MRT “technical problems” this week. The operators and administrators cannot simply pin the problem down to small workers anymore, when the “technical difficulties” are becoming abnormally frequent and obviously no longer attributable to the misgivings of lowly employees.


Good Derailment

Nevertheless, there’s seems to be some good derailment taking place in the political arena recently. It’s a derailment that can be considered comparable to what happened with the MRT.

Here’s a summary of the MRT accident: Train 1 became defective and had to be pushed by Train 2 after Train 1 stalled. Trains 1 and 2 had to “couple” to proceed with the journey. The journey went smoothly, with the smaller Train 2 ably supporting Train 1. However, something went wrong and the trains uncoupled. Train 1, experiencing brake defects, sped uncontrollably, and went off track, heading into an accident.  Fortunately, the accident wasn’t a major one. While Train 2 did not suffer any damage in the accident, its driver is also being blamed for the accident and will be facing administrative charges.

This derailment accident is just like what is or will likely happen to the President and Vice President. After the elections, both appeared to work harmoniously even with the veep proceeding with his ways that slightly deviated from Aquino’s intentions. Four years later, and we see an Aquino becoming vulnerable, almost as helpless as the defective MRT wagon that needs to be pushed to move forward. The Vice President, initially, had mostly expressed explicit support for the President. With his still high popularity and approval ratings, he knows he can either help the President or just leave the President behind. He decided to stick with the President but many things happened along the way that have led to an eventual uncoupling. After Aquino’s refusal to accept the resignation of DBM Secretary Abad, the inevitable need to send Binay’s political allies to jail, and statements of being open to a second term, charter change, and clipping of the powers of the Supreme Court, it’s understandable how Aquino alienated Binay in an “open-secret-like” manner. It’s also a bane for Aquino that his uncles recently expressed support for a Binay presidency in 2016. And so Train 1 met an accident in the form of a dramatic plunge in popularity and approval ratings. It’s not fatal but big enough to stir panic.

Aquino’s success in perpetuating the illusion of an Aquino saviorship for the Philippines has been effectively derailed. However, it can also be said that with the kind of relationship Binay and Aquino (or more appropriately, Aquino’s political party) has now, Binay’s almost sure rise to the presidency has also been derailed. Now, Aquino’s allies are no longer holding back in exposing whatever negative there is in Binay. Normalcy (in Aquino’s standards) has been disrupted and it’s a good thing for the country. It’s an indicator of progress in the sense that traditional politics is finally getting a significant rattling. More serious political rivalry will manifest soon and it’s a welcome development for a country that has mostly been mystified by personalities and legacies.

Continued in Part 2

Stock POC photos. Some rights reserved.