Monday, August 1, 2016


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IN 2010, Noynoy Aquino's party intimated, that is to say by implication, the rise of a wangwang-less social liberal society. This social liberal society, so the message went, should constitute the President's bosses, not his subjects. However, as the years progressed, people saw more neoliberal and corporate liberal interests in the "liberal" of the Liberal Party than social liberal ones. Sure there were social liberal directions that remained, the CCT (qua CCT), for instance, as well as the expanded TESDA skills program (very social liberal, being in the service of both the working class and the employers' class at the same time). In the long run, though, what remained embedded in people's minds were these: hardly could someone see a social liberal direction in the elitist DAP arrangements with politicians, as against what they might see had it been a participatory DAP arrangement with the people (the former produced such crap as a convention center, while the latter might have produced such useful efforts as a market bazaar space for vendors, more mangrove projects, or solar power for villages). . . .
    But that's the past, and now we're in the present. So now let's talk about the election campaign of 2016, wherein Digong Duterte did not just imply, but explicitly described himself as, being a Socialist. He boasted of his projects in Davao City as manifestations of a Socialist mayor's sensibility in relation to choosing which provisions are priority to his community (sophisticated healthcare, women's centers, heavily-protected LGBT rights, etc.).
    So when Duterte won the Presidency and we saw such appointments as Lisa Maza's for the Anti-Poverty Commission, no one was shocked. Nor that another leftist was given the post of Agrarian Reform secretary to hasten decades-old go-aheads for land redistribution. Nor were the leftists among his supporters shocked to witness the appointment of a scion of a wealthy family who now mans the Department of Natural Resources, because her profile as a pro-people anti-mining activist seems to go beyond mere show for "corporate social responsibility" and is familiar to all as being so (moderate though it may be to the radicals).
    There are other sensible little diktats that display this Dutertean socialist sense, as when the President messaged NAIA people to avoid another case of laglag-bala victimizing ordinary passengers (or be ready for airport personnel cleansing). That diktat was a breath of fresh air from the era of Noynoy Aquino that kept on denying that such a racket existed at Aquino's cousin's turf, that kept providing everyone in the process the legalist argument that there are existing laws governing such cases and that all that needed to be done was merely to follow what the laws said.
    A breath of fresh air. Until yesterday, when this news came out.

NOW under the Duterte government, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), along with the traffic-planning and -enforcing Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), announced that all UV Express vans would henceforth be banned from Epifanio de los Santos' avenue because, as legalism goes, the UV Express franchise does not include the vehicles' entry into Epifanio de los Santos' avenue of traffic ill-repute.
    Now, I remember the time when, despite the Aquino government's neoliberal lack of empathy towards the common commuter, we would still be shocked by a Mar Roxas blurting out such classic lines as "heavy traffic is a sign of industrial progress", or something to that effect. Discussions during that time, especially among socialists, touched on the ultimate solution: the nationalization of the EdlSA bus route and the provision of a ceiling for the number of private transportation using the main avenue during the rush hours.
    One would have expected such an ultimate nationalization solution to come from a socialist Duterte. Surprise, surprise. Instead, the UV Express of the lower-middle and upper-lower classes are taken out, so that the cars and Ubers of the middle and upper-middle and upper classes can continue to hog the traffic of EdlSA. Meanwhile, we can only conjecture on why the buses---also the mode for the lower-middle and upper-lower and lower classes---are being permitted to remain on EdlSA (and remember that buses use the entire length of EdlSA). We can only think of two reasons: there's the legalist rationale (the buses' franchise do specify where they are allowed to roll), and then what the rumors say (that the buses are mostly franchises owned by retired generals and reigning politicians friendly to the Duterte government). Totoo kaya 'tong rumor na 'to? Sana naman hindi.
    Pero the basic question for now is this: what comfort does this memorandum provide to the UV Express-using working class? Well, this niche of the working class would now have to ply the heavier rush hour traffic of other avenues, and then be dropped off corners or UVE stations 200 meters or more away from their connecting MRT stations. Thank you, LTFRB, for the Aquinoesque inconvenience.
    Isn't it funny? Aquino would start his administration with a lie using elements of public transport as overall metaphor: that his social liberalism would be displayed through a non-elitist wangwang-less and counterflow-less traffic. Duterte just started his public transport administration with a truth: that his lopsided socialism would be demonstrated through a traffic legalism one can't make heads or tails of---if it is, on the one hand, indeed socialist and pro-working class commuter, or, on the other hand, pro-bus owners and car-owners or what. Have the buses and some colonels' taxi lines become the newly-reborn wangwangs?
    On this uncategorizable memorandum, at least, I suspend my labeling pen till the next shocking (mostly to the socialists) public transport diktat. [S / -I]

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