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Tolentino’s quest

It’s a common perception, I know. How can the government keep saying that we are doing so well when so many people feel that just making it through the day under a regime of ever-escalating prices and flat wages has never seemed so hard?

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas yesterday forecast official inflation numbers for the month of August at between 0.2 percent to 1 percent, which is expected to slow the erosion of buying power for the first eight months, pegged at 1.7 percent, even more. Overall, expected inflation for the entire year will easily be lower than the government’s target of 2 to 4 percent for all of 2015.

But at the same time, the latest Pulse Asia survey found that the two biggest concerns of the ordinary Filipino are—wait for it—inflation and stagnant wages. How can official inflation, or the loss of money’s power to purchase goods, be so low when people are united in complaining about their lack of money to pay for their most basic needs?

No wonder the Aquino administration will have nothing to do with tax breaks or even adjusting a 19-year-old tax scheme for, yes, inflation. If all you hear are glowing figures, I guess you’d be convinced that the economy is in such great shape, too.

Until, of course, you leave government and stop living off the taxpayer’s dime. Then you’d certainly join the millions struggling to make ends meet day to day, as well.

* * *

Speaking of detachment from reality, you have to hand it to the King of Carmageddon, Francis Tolentino. Like Yaya Dub, he’s all about “sa tamang panahon.”

Tolentino yesterday announced that, against all odds, he is seeking a seat in the Senate next May. But he still doesn’t know enough to resign before declaring his intentions, as if he intends to milk his position as chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority for whatever it’s worth before going on his run for the upper chamber of Congress.

It was not so long ago, I think, when people running for office resigned before officially declaring themselves available for an elective position. But I guess Tolentino never heard of such a thing.

Just last week, to prove that he is a man of impeccable timing and vote-getting, Tolentino issued a warning to a motorist who caught a traffic enforcer on video in the act of mulcting that he could be held liable for violating anti-wiretapping laws. I guess he was counting on the votes of the small army of traffic enforcers in his agency’s employ, while forgetting that he had just alienated many more voters who were aghast that the MMDA chairman would take the side of an extortionist caught on video in flagrante delicto rather than side with the apparent victim of a crime.

Prior to this, Tolentino’s foolhardy (there is simply no other way to describe it) quest for a Senate seat got under way along traffic-clogged Osmena Highway in Manila, where volunteers distributed leaflets to gridlocked motorists featuring his smiling mug with his unusual slogan of “Tulong Tino.” It’s a wonder the motorists and commuters didn’t lynch the chairman’s leaflet-mongers on the spot.

Going back a bit further, Tolentino was already stripped of his main function of unclogging vehicular traffic on Edsa and other major metropolitan roads when the PNP’s Highway Patrol Group was placed in charge of the job. And soon after, and to no one’s surprise, a couple of HPG cops were accused of mauling an MMDA enforcer for letting some motorists they had apprehended off scot free.

I don’t know where Tolentino finds the guts to run for office, unless he has calculated that he will win even if he fails to get one single vote in Metro Manila. Because that is exactly the number of votes that the MMDA chairman should receive, as the chief implementor of President Noynoy Aquino’s traffic policy that gridlock is actually good because it is an indicator of a robust economy.

Of course, I may be wrong and Tolentino may, by the middle of next year, be taking his talents to the Senate. But I swear I never heard of someone less deserving of election to anything who so bravely sought the public’s approval of his incompetence.

If you are considering voting for Tolentino and are not related to him by blood, understand that you are not really giving an honest appraisal of him. What you’ll be doing, however, will speak volumes about your own lack of judgment.

I’d as soon vote for Yaya Dub than for Tolentino. That girl, at least, makes a lot of people happy.

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