Uber, the SC, rehab for Marawi — Sundry thoughts on a rainy day

I am writing this in the car while caught in traffic on a rainy day. Nothing new and, as Doc Jim always advises us, it’s pointless to be angry about something you cannot change or control. Those are wise words from an accomplished physician. Among the many hats he wears, Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan is a medical practitioner, former health secretary, and a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine.
While I am finishing this, over the radio come news that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has slapped Uber and Grab each with a P5 million fine for permit violations, especially for accrediting new vehicles despite the board’s order to suspend new operation.

The companies are more than willing to pay the fine, but what do we do about 80 percent of their cars that are colorum? Instead of easing traffic because we do not bring out our own cars, the sudden deluge of cars for Uber and Grab has worsened the traffic congestion considerably. They are my driver’s pet peeve. He sees many new cars, often without plates yet, and say those are hulugan cars for Uber and Grab.

The solution is still to improve public transportation and build infrastructure. I often speak of my first trip to Xiamen, China in 1988, where all over the city, I saw signs with five words 要富先造路 (to be prosperous first build roads). Today, nearly 30 years later, see how prosperous China has become!  My driver says instead of building skyways that benefit only rich motorists, government should improve the train system. Our agencies have much to learn from the masses.

Supreme Court in the limelight 
The Supreme Court has been in the limelight lately. It upheld President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

“The overriding and paramount concern of martial law is the protection of the security of the nation and the good and safety of the public,” and martial rule is “crucial” to the safety and survival of our country, the tribunal stressed in its 82-page decision.

Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 on May 23. On July 24, when he delivers the State of the Nation Address, it will be the 60th day of martial law. It looks like he will beat the deadline and end martial rule before his SONA. I still believe the president and his men could have done what they wanted to do without declaring martial rule. The police got away with extrajudicial actions in the war against drugs, without resorting to martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus.

Marawi City or even the entire province of Lanao del Norte is a small area compared to the urban cities all over the country.
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen notes that martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the habeas corpus writ were not warranted in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao.  Now, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez says Congress can even give the president leeway to declare martial law for five years! He is clearly toeing Duterte’s line, what with both being members of the PDP-Laban party.

Also over the radio, I heard a military official say the armed forces estimate only 40 Maute rebels are left in besieged Marawi. But following that news, the reporter says he can still see smoke in areas being hit from the air. Do they still need air strikes to smoke the rebels out? The total destruction of Marawi looks much like the end of World War II.
EU shuns the Philippines Who will aid in the rehabilitation of Marawi? Who will help rebuild devastated Marawi?  Not the European Union, for sure. Malacañang on July 11 said Duterte was not present in the recent G20 Summit held in Hamburg, Germany because the German government, which holds the G20 presidency this year, did not extend any invitation.

Duterte chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year. Traditionally, the ASEAN chairman attends the G20 Summit, which gathers leaders from member countries and the European Union. The snub to our president is not surprising. Duterte has lashed out at the EU for its criticisms of his war on drugs and has also publicly shunned EU grants that he said might ostensibly intervene in the Philippines’ internal affairs. Sad, because we need EU grants for Marawi’s recovery, given the extent of the damage wrought by the bombardment. We cannot do this alone.

Intervention
The Supreme Court is also in the limelight because the Presidential Electoral Tribunal has deferred collecting a large onerous fee from Vice President Leni Robredo even as it begins hearings on Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ election protest.  The PET has put off taking from Roberdo payment of the balance of P7.5 million filing fee. But it also did not act on the petition for intervention filed by private citizens who launched the Piso para sa Laban ni Leni campaign, asking PET to let her supporters pay the remaining balance.

“We voted for her and we want to protect our votes against Marcos,” petitioners told the PET.

The campaign has hit the million-peso mark in less than a month. The petitioners want to pay for the filing fee knowing that Robredo doesn’t have the money.  Those of us in the campaign are deeply touched by a woman who deposited P200 and sent this note: “Galing po itong munting halaga sa iniipon ko para sa aking surgery sa December, gusto ko lang ipakita ang suporta ko sa aking bise presidente (This small amount comes from my savings for my surgery in December. I just want to show my support to my vice president).”

One depositor sent this meme: “Tinalo ng boto ko si Marcos (Marcos lost my vote).” Another favorite is “How do you defeat a billionaire one peso at a time?”

Hats off to these creative millennials who know how to use social media to boost our campaign.

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