Transport strike?

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


IF EFFORTS of transport officials to address concerns of the transport sector about the controversial Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01 have succeeded, Cebu should be spared the impact of a transport strike today.

Personally, I have gone over some of the complaints about this JAO especially because of a kulit son who expressed concern about several provisions. And I found the complaints valid. I am happy that today’s transport officials like LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon prefer more to listen and address the grievances before any protest action starts.

I could still remember that four-day transport strike in late 1984 when transport operators and the anti-Marcos protest movement joined forces against the road users’ tax. Unlike the government officials today, those we had then were not just deaf. They automatically branded us all as communists and employed harsh police methods.

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In the end, a dialogue arranged by Cardinal Vidal between government officials and the strike leaders led to the lifting of the strike. At that time, I could still remember a young student leader from USJ-R who marched with us. That young student leader is now the LTFRB 7 director.

***

The people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel has gained momentum with the recent CBCP decision to support the movement.

Decades ago, Cardinal Jaime Sin led priests and nuns in supporting the people power uprising in Edsa. Today, the Catholic bishops again decided to support people power against the pork barrel system. This time, however, the people power move won’t be in the form of an Edsa rising but through the more difficult but constitutional method of people’s initiative.

I am proud to say that among those who worked to convince the bishops is our own Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma who has served as the strong center that glued together the rainbow alliance that we call the Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System.

“I share the sentiments of the sovereign people of the Philippines against the pork barrel system and all forms of corruption. In order to put a final lid on the pork barrel system, specifically in the Legislative and Executive branches of government, I support the following proposal from anti-pork barrel groups in the whole country--that the sovereign people use the 1987 Philippine Constitution provision on the passage of a law through the People’s Initiative (PI),” wrote the Cebu prelate in an endorsement letter signed last July 2.

“The national coalition–People’s Initiative to Abolish the Pork Barrel (PIAP) Preparatory Committee (Prepcom)–has already drafted the Pork Barrel Abolition Act.

This draft will be presented for approval at a People’s Congress. Then, the Congress-approved bill will be presented to the people nationwide through a signature campaign; and is to be approved by a majority vote in a national referendum,” he said.

A PDF copy of this letter has begun circulating in Facebook last week. We expect several national anti-pork movement leaders like retired chief justice Puno, several bishops and organizers of last year’s million people march to be in Cebu for the people’s congress and people’s initiative launch on Aug. 23.

***

While I laud efforts to “close the gap” in mobile Internet use, the Philippine reality today still remains our poor Internet infrastructure.

During the information age, the obstacle to rapid economic growth is not anymore the country’s protective policies against more foreign ownership. We simply are behind in terms of Internet infrastructure.

While some of our Asean neighbors enjoy normal Internet speeds of over 20 mbps, we cannot enjoy even the one mbps many of us are paying for. And our top finance and trade officials are telling us that we are ready for Asean Economic Integration.

After joining last year’s Geeks on a Beach in Boracay and some Startup Weekends here in Cebu, I gathered many young foreigners came to Cebu to make their tech-innovation enterprises here.

They don’t need to own land or ensure majority control of their tech businesses to bring their money here. They love the work-play environment and our hospitality. However, the common complaint is, “Your Internet sucks.”

I expect this sentiment to be one of the major concerns during Geeks on a Beach 2 that will transpire in Cebu next month. The organizers are reportedly inviting government policy-makers and legislators to address this concern.

(Follow @anol_cebu in Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2014.

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