Friday, July 10, 2015

Philippine Public Infrastructure and Public Transportation Systems: A Case of Socioeconomic Stagnation, Cultural Complacency and Left Wing Regulatory Dereliction

It's been a while since I've written any piece about anything and I will still strive to preserve this blog's theme as one being politically neutral (between the struggles of the left wing and the right wing of the ideological spectrum).

The International Context

I recently visited Thailand (an ASEAN member) a few days ago and even as my last visit was at least 8 years ago, I find it both saddening and enviable to see how far this country has come, while the Philippines has retained the crummy, crappy feel through the years as far as public infrastructure quality and mass transport systems reliability go. To put this into proper perspective, Thailand's airport and roads have already been quite impressive many years ago and even with the assumption of the Philippines playing mere catch-up to economic development, progress in the Philippine public sector has never really gained traction and caught on. Apparently, the economy just seems better to some because it has been the private sector, through Private-Public Partnership (PPP) projects, that has been taking the progressive strides to raise the standards of living in the country.

The Trigger

The Local Context

It doesn't really matter where this was taken because it's practically true in all areas of Metro Manila and even in most urbanized parts of the country. Post WWII left us with so many destroyed structures (that were built with plans in mind during the Commonwealth years, when the US still had greater influence over Philippine sovereignty). The bandaid solutions for public transport, infrastructure and urban planning have now been deeply ingrained as the acceptable reality for the layman Filipino, as opposed to restoring the sustainable vision for Metro Manila before the World War II bombings started.

We oogle at and envy the developed railways and public transport systems of neighboring Asian countries and even Europe's (especially with so many Filipinos getting exposed to so many levels of standards of living when going abroad whether for work or leisure). But poor socioeconomic regulation/policing coupled with the left wing, free hand enterprising spirit of jeepneys, tricycles, pedicabs and poorly regulated bus companies (with each jeepney equivalent to one road warrior businessman who will never give a poop about order and road etiquette - because they've got to feed his family right?) is obviously the culprit to the deteriorating traffic conditions in the Metro.

Transforming the Supply Chain by Tweaking Demand

In my mind, the only way to retake this wayward culture as far as public structures and services go is to give priority to the sidewalk-and-pedestrian culture in urban planning. It's infuriating to know that a pedestrian will have to ride a jeep, trike or pedicab to get to certain places that should have been accessible anyway with properly paved sidewalks. Instead, we pay our taxes only to have public taxpayer paid roads used as terminals by all sorts of public transport vehicles to earn money.

Pedestrian Neglect

We are given crappy sidewalks 6 inches wide, with electric posts, barriers, illegally parked cars, uncut trees (thanks tree huggers), sidewalk vendors, and other obstacles (because we clearly need the physical challenge for a healthier lifestyle) that reduce to 3 inches the space we can walk on. In fact, a pedestrian might still be grateful despite the crappy sidewalks because sometimes there aren't even any to walk on at all!

It's the Circle of Poop and It Moves Us All (or not)

It's all connected and I'm pretty sure it isn't just me who has noticed this public infrastructure+public transport system sickness we have. Oh by the way, thanks LTFRB for poorly policing how many public transport vehicles are really out there, under the hypocritical guise of justifying that it's for the benefit of the commuting public when there is obviously already too many of them. Thanks DPWH for not emphasizing the development of sidewalks and further reinforcing the Filipino public's unnecessary dependence on trikes, jeeps and pedicabs.

A Wish, If You Can't Beat Them Join Them

I may also want to get appointed, in the future, as the head of the (DOPES) Department of Pedicab Employment and Services, because it's very very very important that someone regulates them. They're only out to make a living right? Nvm general public transport regulation and urban planning because I'm pretty sure Bogart, Duchess and family pay their taxes.

All compositions, statements and opinions of the author are copyright © Earl T. Malvar 2009-2015. All rights reserved. There is no honor, respect, admiration, intellectual and academic dignity garnered through plagiarism.

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