“If the mountain will not come to Mohamed, Mohamed must go to the mountain.” In like manner, if provincial traders and shoppers cannot enter Metro Manila to buy all the goods they will need for Christmas, I was going to suggest to DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo the idea of setting up supply depots and buyers markets outside of Metro Manila in order to prevent the expected or projected traffic meltdown that happens a couple of months before Christmas. Unfortunately Greg Domingo, being the intelligent executive that he is has reportedly left the building by filing his resignation. He at least had an exit plan, most of us don’t as far as carmagedon and traffic congestion is concerned.
Whether we realize it or not, we have a major disaster in Metro Manila and it has long existed. The sad part is that this disaster slowly built up in such a way that we actually think its “normal” we have even reacted to it with uniformity and conformity in spite of the fact that this disaster has struck us by air – sea – and land.
I have been sitting here at the Daniel Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City 45 minutes past our scheduled take off for Manila. We have just been informed that our 2:55 departure has been Rescheduled to 4:30. This is not the exception to the rule it is an almost daily occurrence as far as flying in or out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is concerned. The bad part about it is that some officials or airport authorities not only don’t want to admit the fact that air traffic congestion is now at a critical level, they also don’t want airline personnel talking about it and they don’t welcome or appreciate unsolicited advice or help. In fact they resent it.
Upon hearing of our new departure time we give out a great sigh of disappointment and sit back, finding ways to amuse ourselves or to pass the time. So, I ask no one in particular if we are being delayed by the air traffic controllers because we are coming from the Romualdez airport and they are in an Aquino airport? The First Officer has just announced that “Traffic permitting we should land in NAIA at 5:30. Ten seconds later he informs us to expect an additional 20 to 30 minute delay because we have been advised to “hold” at 60 miles south of Manila because of air traffic congestion. My farm is 81 kilometers south of Manila, if we run out of fuel, I could convince the pilot to land at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City and I would be a jeepney ride away from our second home!
I’m now wondering if we are being delayed because it is high tide and we now need the permission of the Philippine Coast Guard to land a plane in the watery runways of NAIA? Then I realize that I should not be in a rush to get to the unpaid NAIA Terminal 3 because I will certainly be given another warm harassing welcome by illegal taxi service contractors. Of course I’m not being all that accurate because many of those “contractors” do have IDs that are recognized by Airport Security. So I guess its ok for them to intercept and mislead passengers into thinking they are taking legit coupon taxis that simply charge highway robbery rates. At least the delay buys me enough quiet time in the air to write a column, but the next hurdle would be if the NAIA Terminal 3 has a useful public wifi or if my unli subscription will actually be fast enough to beat our deadline considering we have the most expensive telecoms rates with the slowest lying speeds. As I return to my senses and original purpose for writing this article, l have to point out that all the congestion by air sea and land is a big deal.
It is a big deal but because we the people can’t do anything about it, we simply choose not to make a big deal about it. That unfortunately is the reason why we are subjected daily to Air traffic congestion that adds an hour or more to our flights into Metro Manila, that is the reason why we lost billions and billions of pesos due to Port congestion, and that is the same reason why we lose a reported P2.6 billion daily due to traffic congestion. It is also the reason why the most incompetent government, the PNoy Misadministration has gotten away with causing hundreds of billions of pesos of inconvenience and financial loses.
For my part I choose to point out the obvious that we have been oblivious to. At the very least I hope to remind all of you that the PNoy Misadministration has taken all of us for a ride to nowhere and he is once again asking the Filipino people to renew their contract to run their Matubig na daan.
We the citizens, the taxpayers, the income earners and the ones who collectively contribute to the economy and the country’s well being are the ones being made to carry the burden by the incompetent amateurs running the government. PNoy tells us to sacrifice. Let me ask him the question: What sacrifice do you make Mr. President? Have you reorganized your life in such a way that your movement is limited to essential and important meetings? Have you redefined your business and social life in such a way that you walk, bicycle or hitch a ride with friends just to avoid being trapped in traffic? Have you opted to homeschool your children to save time, fuel and money? Have you bundled family and work time together to the point that you now move around like Gypsies where the children learn, play and sometimes sleep in the same area where their parents work? Do you give up enjoying the use of your hard earned cars, or defer family activities because of traffic or air congestion. The least sacrifice you can make is to take personal responsibility for the mess and be the very example of the sacrifices you dare asks us to make.
This feature is written by Cito Beltran and originally appeared in MSN.