Romancing the Train

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014


RAILROAD- Representative Terry Ridon of the Kabataan party-list cried, 'it was railroaded'. He was referring to the thrashing of the three impeachment complaints by President Aquino's allies in congress, by a vote of 54 vs 4. Impeachment proceeding is a numbers game, and a political process at that. And as long as there is a lumpsum amount of P501 billion in the 2015 budget which can be allocated by Malacanang to the favored few, expect congressmen to toe the line, and march along the drums of PNoy. Congressman Ridon, ride-on ka na lang.

THE OTHER RAILROADS-In the news lately are the Light Railway Transit (LRT), Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR). Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya daily gets the flak from thousands of commuters who queue for two hours on train terminals just to get to their destinations. He is called Secretary Pabaya, tuloy.

He is not brave either like his great grandfather Emilio Aquinaldo. Instead of taking the MRT incognito with no retinue like what Senator Grace Poe did, he brought along with him his bodyguards and positioned himself in a coach reserved for senior citizens.

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DAP AND THE RAILROADS- The Development Acceleration Program (DAP), using savings, was intended to prime the economy, according to President Aquino and Budget Secretary Butch Abad. And why then, Malacanang gave it to favored senators and congressmen? I am no economist, and no economics 101 tucked in my report card, but if you want to prime up business activity there is no better way than by upgrading the roads and the rail system in the country in order that people and goods move cheaper and faster.

During my stint as a member of the board of directors of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), we proposed connector roads that will connect Makati to Taguig and to the airport terminals in the Pasay and Paranaque areas. Also on the drawing board were high speed rails that will connect central business districts. These proposals possibly are still languishing for luck of funds and efforts by our leaders. Funds and savings were channeled instead to advance political agenda. How sad!

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RAILWAY- In my youth, I had opportunity on taking the PNR train from Angeles City to Damortis, La Union. I can't forget that year because I was with my girl friend and we enjoyed the ride, the sights in the countryside and our romance on the train. When the train service stopped and presidents after presidents of this country neglected the upgrading of PNR, it is as if some parts of my youth was lost.

The expectation of the people on President Aquino's leadership for reform was high. (Daang matuwid. Ni hindi nga maituwid ang biyahe ng MRT at LRT). But he failed. He miserably failed. And that's why his satisfaction rating nosedived.

Oh I wish just like many of us pining to take the train up to Damortis, La Union and then the bus up to the pine city of Baguo, those days will come back again. And possibly those people in Bicolandia up to Legaspi City in Albay and nearby provinces are still hoping that the Bicol express will be chugging when a new president will get elected.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 04, 2014.

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