Monday, August 31, 2015

Filipinos Distrust the Justice System

With the influx of news regarding the INC movement calling for the separation of church and state, I can't help that one of the key issues here is being ignored; we don't trust the justice process here in our country. I can understand the calls of our INC brothers and sisters. Though, I don't see the rallies being caused by the violation of the constitution. I see it more of a fear of having the stability of one's religious institution in the hands of an ineffective judiciary. They may say it's the former that forced them to rally. But if you look at one of their statements, it's more because they think the DOJ is not doing its job properly since their prioritization is all out of wack.

This is just one example of our distrust of the due process here in the Philippines. A few weeks ago, 4 men suspected of raping a Maranaw girl in Marawi City were apparently killed after being released. They were released because there were no complainants. The killings of the suspects were done with consent from their respective families to avoid a family feud. This shows a complete lack of trust of the judicial practice from the victim's side. But you may say it is more about their culture than a distrust of the system we have in place. But further evidence of our distrust can be seen in the comments section of the reports pertaining to it.

They can't all be Maranaws, right?

But can you really blame our countrymen for having little faith in the system we have in place?

I mean, take into account several high profile cases that have been swept under the rug. Andal Ampatuan died even before being convicted/proven innocent. And this is after the president himself promised the case will be looked at with great interest and that the case will be resolved before he steps down. We have the Vizconde Massacre case that led to nowhere. Marlon Villanueva's case finally yielded a decision after 10 years. And of course, the extrajudicial killings/abductions that are still prevalent with Jonas Burgos' story at the forefront.

And I barely researched these. I just looked for proper links so you can check them out for yourself. I just remembered them at the top of my head. And for a guy like me who never attended law school to blurt out these deficiencies, it shows that these are normal occurrences. Atrocities are being carried out and the system seems to be unable to keep up.

The distrust and the hesitation to go through the process may be justified. And this should serve as a wake up call to our leaders. We need to revamp our system of justice. I don't just mean the judiciary. Police investigations also need to be looked at. I mean, how can you file a drunk driving case if you don't have the breathalyzers with you?

I was in college when Noynoy promised that the Maguinadanao case will get a resolution by his term's end. Back then I thought that the impeachment of Corona and the installment of new Ombudsman would improve things. I subscribed to the idea that changing the people would prove we have great laws and regulations in place and the system would be proven to be adequate. Fast-forward five years and it feels like we're still in the same place we have always been. The names just changed.

In 2016, Noynoy's term will end. And with it, we elect a new leader. We are eager to watch debates and the news. It's crazy how some people rave about a guy who admitted he is connected to a vigilante group. It's further proof of how we detest the justice system. But I digress. Hopefully, the process of placing new names in elected offices isn't the only process we concern ourselves with.

Ask yourselves this: How can we be comfortable with a system that allows a rich old man to post bail on a non-bailable case while a poor illiterate suspect rotted in jail for falsification of public documents?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Metro Manila Traffic is Just Plain Unbearable

Last week, I was invited by my college friends to attend a concert celebrating the new school year. Back then I would jump at this opportunity to get drunk off my ass with glee and excitement. But lately, the traffic situation in EDSA has really reduced the enthusiasm I have in these affairs.

I'm from south of Muntinlupa and I went to college in Quezon City. Back in 2009, I remember getting agitated in a bus because I was coming in late for an exam. The Skyway extension project from Bicutan to Alabang just got started and I failed to factor it in my travel time. Eventually, I got to that exam and was able to answer enough questions to pass. I was saved by the Nova Bus Lines plying the route of Baclaran to Fairview via ILALIM LAHAT.
Riding a Nova, Newman Goldline or Safeway made EDSA look like these five years ago

That was roughly five years ago. Traffic sucked but it was bearable with the help of a reliable MRT and a few bus companies that would rather burn more fuel than wait for passengers. Fast-forward to the present and that is no longer the case.

These days, it takes me 5 hours to get to Philcoa from our bus terminal. This is the case regardless of the time of day. A few years back it took 2 and a half hours. Nowadays, I no longer ride the MRT because I'd rather sit down in a bus than stand in line for an hour to ride a congested train that may breakdown any moment. All buses nowadays are not allowed to go Ilalim in Cubao, Crossing or Ayala giving no incentive to switch buses in Mantrade/Magallanes.You will now see private vehicles and provincial buses in the city bus lanes. City buses on the other hand have no choice but to get as many passengers in one trip as possible to make up for the time they spend in traffic. They become a bit more "gahaman" nowadays. EDSA has really made visiting my old stomping grounds look like a chore than a night of debauchery.

I know in my case, traffic in EDSA isn't a big deal. So I don't get to go to UP and get drunk as much. But how about the other people who ply through EDSA daily? How about my friend who lives in Fairview and works in Taguig? Is it ok that he has to spend 5 hours a day to go to and from work where he already spends 9 hours? It seems more practical to be a bed spacer in Makati than to go through that hell hole we call EDSA everyday in his case. It's crazy how I have a point considering Taguig and Fairview aren't as far away from each other geographically as the travel time would suggest.

The traffic in EDSA and the whole Metropolis for that matter has been a major source of irritation or in some case anger for us commuters. And the way the government handles it is pretty deplorable.

Before I start ranting about how the government sucks at traffic management, some of you may see traffic as a result of lack of discipline. If only magbibigayan ang mga motorista, we won't have this much traffic. And sure, you may have a point. But that reasoning is a result of lack of authority from the ruling body. If the government gave the people more reason to respect the traffic regulations like by being more visible and strict, maybe drivers would be more disciplined. I mean without the fear of getting caught, a lot people become douche bags..

Now, we have seen more CCTV camera out there. Catching violators has become easier and the YouScoop and Bayan Mo Ipatrol mo segments of the prime time news programs are usually packed with these stories. But catching traffic violators is just half the battle.

The elections are coming. Recently, Mar Roxas went to Cebu and addressed the crowd. Traffic eventually came up and according to him. traffic just means that the economy is booming echoing the sentiments of current President Aquino. According to him, the reason why people missed their flights was because of an influx in tourism. His allies appealed for more patience and asked us to just leave earlier. Ok, sure. It's not like traffic in this country is one of the worst in the world or anything. Oh, wait.

I'm not going to further antagonize Roxas. I mean, in GMA's version of the headline he did say that further investments in infrastructure is needed. Plus, he is with DILG and his responsibilities don't really encapsulate the traffic woes we have.

Let's look at the president. As I mentioned, Roxas only echoed Aquino's sentiments. Too bad the yahoo report with his quote won't load. Aside from his comment that I can no longer backup, there is the fact that his SONA's are not really focused on traffic. It is pretty evident if you read the last SONA. Though he did talk proudly of the Cavite Expressway and the Skyway Extension Project as he should, Be that as it may, I feel the commuter concerns are not really a priority for him. I mean, how can he applaud Jun Abaya's work on maritime concerns without reminding how inadequate he has been in dealing with the MRT? He mentioned how 2008 maintenance only covered painting. He mentioned DOTC's maintenance plans were TRO'ed by thanks to the evil corporation. Sure the MTRC is playing hardball, but how can he still be confident in Abaya? The fact of the matter is, Abaya couldn't handle his job with the MRT. Coupled with the dilapidated state of the PNR; Abaya hasn't really done much for the commuters. All Aquino did was applaud Abaya and defend him. When was the last time you were applauded by your boss when you failed to finish your paperwork? I don't know about you, but the awesomeness of my last report does not change the fact that I will get my ass handed to me if I miss my next deadline. I don't know what is it with Aquino and scolding his ineffective underlings. He bombards us with his "Daang Matuwid" slogan, yet accountability is an alien term as far as his allies are concerned.

Speaking of Aquino allies, how about the MMDA? How about Francis Tolentino? Do you remember the bus scheme that was put in place? Rappler gives us a diagram here of how it works. It's been a year now. The first few months, I noticed this. Two buses left the terminal at once and one can drop off at Ayala and the other can't. The same can be said with the rest of the stops. But for the past couple of times I went to the Metro, this is no longer being practiced. Buses will stop anywhere if you hit the metal handle bars with a coin. I guess, we can chalk this one up as a failed attempt. But an attempt nonetheless.

How about the Express Connect Bus? Remember the buses with limited drop off points from Fairview to Ayala? Well, as you can imagine, bus drivers and conductors really got the short end of that deal.

I really feel sorry for the MMDA. I mean, Tolentino tries. But he just can't help but fail. This can be attributed to the fact that the LGU's don't respect him. He may have a ton of plans that may work. But he has to compromise with several ego-driven LGU dynasties who I suspect don't respect him as much since he is not an elected official. These LGU's have their own ordinances and some don't even follow the number coding scheme. The fact that he's from Tagaytay does not help his case in talking with these mayors.

As corrupt as the MMDA was when Fernando was head of it, I really miss him. He kicked ass. His enforcers would catch buses and private vehicles alike with no qualms if they disobeyed the rules. Sure it may be driven by kotong but drivers had the fear of being caught because of these relentless kotong boys. I remember city buses being limited to the right-most lane except when they go Ilalim. Private vehicles and provincial buses couldn't cross over to those lanes. It's crazy how I'm cheering for a guy who has a few corruptionallegations.

The MMDA seems to be the hardest office to take over. You have to deal with the DOTC for transport related items. They have to deal with the DPWH who constantly construct in the most inopportune moments. The LGU's may not respect you since they are elected officials. Maybe if NCR had a governor or something. Maybe the traffic woes can be handled in a unified fashion.

Traffic in Metro Manila has been a constant source of anger, rage and profanity-laden tirades. I have mentioned accountability once or twice before. But for the case of traffic in the Metro, who should be accountable? The drivers? DOTC? MMDA? LGU's? the President?

It's really hard to pinpoint who should handle this. But if this government really planned on getting getting the economy running, shouldn't it have developed a long term plan in handling the expected influx of traffic volume like the one they had for energy consumption? Oh wait...

Sometimes it makes me think. Is the economy growing because of this government's leadership or despite of it?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We do love getting scammed, don't we?

It's been an uneventful past few days for this blog. As some who have read my posts may see, I like writing about politics and a bit of music. It's just that, scanning the news, nothing has really piqued my interest. Though Joel Villanueva is making my head turn, I don't feel like writing about instabilities in his party.

These past few weeks though, there are two issues that have been making the rounds. One of them is the sudden rise of incidence of scamming; the other one is food poisoning which I may write about later. I remember a week ago, a relatively young woman was nabbed by authorities for scamming P500 million from unsuspecting families by saying that the investment is backed by the ParaƱaque City government. Just last night, GMA reported a "paluwagan" system that turned out to be a scam.

Scams have been really prevalent lately. I'm not gonna discuss how they are done. There are lots of papers as well as news articles about scamming people. Deehan1914 gives us a decent look at the history of one of the most profitable scam tactics out there.

What I am gonna do is ask a question. Why do we Filipinos love getting scammed? I mean, it sure looks like it.

Thinkpesos tried to answer this question but I found it lacking. Greed and gaining easy money are connected. And as the article mentioned, greed is pretty much human nature. I mean, who wouldn't want easy money? Who wouldn't want to double their investments in a month's time?

These attitudes are inherent to every human being no matter what people say. The problem with these attitudes is that they usually take over without proper education. nailed it on the head when it listed the lack of education as the main reason why Filipinos get scammed a lot. I imagine that you, the reader, at least finished high school. Now ask yourself, how many times was financial literacy tackled in your class? Compare that to the number of times you had to determine the past participle of a verb or the value of x in a function. I wouldn't be surprised if banking and finance was not even tackled your whole high school life. I mean my school never thought to mention how important it is.

I'm not discarding the importance of algebra or grammar. But why did I have to take up a class in college to get a glimpse of how to manage my money?

I know some of you may be thinking it's so easy to search the internet for reviews before entering anything. The SEC provides a checklist of what to look for when looking at an investment opportunity. But would the normal, casual Filipino know about this stuff?

We Filipinos are not really good at investing. I mean look at our GDP. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas recently released a news article stating the lack of financial literacy in the country. We love to save and are not as hot-wired to consume as Americans who are more susceptible to max out credit limits. But we are not as knowledgeable when it comes to saving efficiently.

The question of "why do we love to get scammed?" may be answered easily. It's because we don't know any better. Sure, it is important for individuals to start looking for resources to read. But why don't we just instill it in basic education? We're adding two years to basic education with K-12 anyway, right?

Basic education is the ideal place to start building the groundwork of a financially literate population. A large chunk of the population goes through it and I think that if you have money to invest, you at least finished high school unless if you are a blue collar OFW which is a major target of scammers.

Scammers usually target OFW's because compared to us who work in the country, they have more money. And another major reason for being targeted is the fact that a lot of OFW's never studied in college and had the chance to take up Banking 101. Or maybe they did finish college but their course did not call for the study of the banking sector. They also don't have much time to be here and the sense of urgency in taking advantage of an opportunity is a bread n' butter of scammers.

Scams in the news today may lead one to think that only idiots get themselves in these messes. But who’s to say who’s an idiot? I mean we willingly spend a hundred pesos for a cup of coffee at Starbucks and they’re the idiots?

Everybody at some point will get scammed in some way. But by focusing on finance in basic education, maybe Filipinos won’t love getting scammed as much.