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Fatal

“Philippine Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is probably one of the stupidest public servants under the current Aquino government today. Not only is he seemingly incapable of fixing the traffic congestion and the dismal public transport system in the country, he also has a penchant for insulting the intelligence of both motorists and commuters—those who are forced to endure miserable conditions while traveling on the road every day.”

So goes the opening salvo of Ilda, one of the most-read thought leaders (to simply describe her as a “blogger” would trigger a deluge of irate messages from our drinking buddies who also read her) of the Get Real Philippines community in her latest article titled “5 reasons why traffic congestion can be fatal” (http://getrealphilippines.com/blog/2015/08/5-reasons-why-traffic-congestion-can-be-fatal/).

The latest foot-in-mouth utterance of the Transportation Secretary convinces us that it would be lucrative to put together a book of quotations that would rival our favorite Senator Miriam Santiago’s best sellers, Stupid is Forever and Stupid is Forever More that compile her pick-up lines and funnily memorable quotations, some of which will make you ROFL. We’re not kidding­—we can make a killing by immortalizing the quotable quotes of President BS Aquino and his people.

Example: “Buhay ka pa naman di ba?” “He is an Aquino, you are a Romualdez.” “Traffic is a sign of economic growth” (this one has its latest paraphrase from Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who resigned but did not really resign, right?) and now, Abaya’s “not fatal” and “not burdensome” remark which is the height of insensitivity.

But then again, as Ilda’s article put it, “he says a lot of silly things… It shows his lack of empathy for what millions of Filipinos go through on a daily basis.” But should we be surprised at all? Really, the guy needed an umbrella-carrying assistant to follow him around when he rode the MRT—on the coach reserved for women, children, the disabled and the elderly—with a whole retinue of assistants and of course the requisite media people (photo op, siyempre!).

To his credit though, he did say “‘By riding the train, do I solve the problem? What’s more important is for us to find a solution” – but it looks like it will take forever to find a solution to the MRT problem, unless of course we get a new Transportation chief who will not come from the Liberal Party mold.

“It doesn’t help that Abaya is now very unpopular, so anything he says just makes those annoyed at him want to see him make good on a promise to have himself run over by a train if he doesn’t fix the MRT problems by 2015. A lot of people have been expecting him to resign years ago and, more importantly, a lot have also been calling on President BS Aquino to fire him for his incompetence. For some bizarre reason, BS Aquino can’t even admonish Abaya the way he admonishes public servants who are not allied with him. It’s no wonder Abaya doesn’t make any apologies for his shortfalls and even goes as far as mocking the people who have no choice but to suck up the wretchedness of the Philippines’ decrepit transport system,” Ilda fulminated – her sentiments echoing what millions of Filipinos (even non MRT/LRT riders) feel.

She lists down several reasons why traffic can be fatal: Stress caused by traffic is detrimental to people’s health and wellbeing; prolonged stay on the road exposes people to harmful pollution; being stuck in traffic for hours can result in road rage; traffic congestion can prevent ambulance drivers and emergency crews from saving lives; and being stuck in traffic can lead to loss of livelihood and eventually, death.

On the last one, Ilda points out that “There is a limit to the use of the excuse ‘I was stuck in traffic’ before your boss fires you for being late everyday. We are talking about a country where getting a decent job after being fired is not easy. This can lead to all kinds of problems for the individual that can cause depression and possibly suicide.

“One doesn’t have to be a genius to realize the adverse consequences resulting from being stuck in traffic. But unfortunately, not only do Filipinos have to deal with it; they also have to deal with a hopeless and arrogant man like Abaya. Now that alone can be fatal,” she concludes—and we couldn’t agree more. Just thinking about the insensitivity is enough to cause our blood pressure to skyrocket.

Now that we think about it, perhaps a compilation of the quotable quotes of BS Aquino and his men is not a good business proposition after all – we don’t want to be responsible for fatal consequences as a result of reading those quotes and being reminded about the insensitivity and “disconnect” displayed by this administration.  

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