Taking notice (Philippine Star)

Since the time of Jose Rizal, the bancas have crossed the Pasig River, gone up and down from Laguna De Bay down to the mouth of the Pasig. Their numbers have been whittled down to a few stragglers boxed out by governance, faster land based transport and diminished in stature by foreign made ferries that rise and sink against political current or favor. But as ill kept and rickety as they may seem, the small boats and bancas have passed the test of time and the challenge of circumstance. Up to this day you will catch a glimpse of them if you’re ever stuck on the Guadalupe Bridge or as you drive along the river from the Makati side.

You can see the same thing in Bangkok, Thailand where many of the locals actually have boarding platforms along the river where small boats pull in to pick them up as they travel to some point of their main river. My wife and I recently went for a walk to the Barrio Kapitolyo side of the Pasig River and were pleasantly surprised to see that there was a steel gate, a concrete platform and a wooden deck leading out to where a small boat was waiting for commuters headed towards the Makati side. I spoke with the commuters as well as the locals in the area about their “ferry service” and everyone highlighted the convenience, no traffic, and pragmatic practicality. It was a short ride between points, it was cheap, and it created “jobs” for the locals.

So why are we not helping the locals develop this simple mode of transport? Administration after administration has attempted to “float” Ferryboat providers but they inevitably sink due to financial losses or political persecution. It might be a lot simpler if the Mayors of the LGUs along the Pasig River organized the river crossings not for commercial purposes or revenue but as a public service and job creation projects. Instead of big expensive ferries and franchises, let’s stick to the Jose Rizal business model with added safety and strict supervision and not technocrat complicated project proposals.

At either point of the crossing each local government can provide parking for tricycles or even shuttle buses for city hall employees or those working in certain business districts such as BGC or Makati. One cool idea would be to have space for bicycle riders who could bring their bikes from Ortigas, Mandaluyong, Makati or even up and down the Pasig River. Perhaps the DOST can jump in on this project and adapt ideas from Thailand, Vietnam etc. so we can have real use of the Pasig River.

If you like the idea, please help promote it!

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Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Before it all becomes a thing of the past, let’s all take notice of the numerous drug busts that the Philippine National Police has been conducting all over Metro Manila. Congratulations to the PNP for this renewed campaign because drugs have long been a menace in the entire country and it is about time that the PNP gave it priority.

I don’t know if it’s just mere coincidence but I would like to believe that this is just the initial salvo from the new leadership in the PNP and I might add that going after drug pushers, manufacturers and users is a very strategic move because drugs is the type of criminal activity that gives birth to a host of many other crimes. Drug users are often the snatchers, pick pockets, robbers and rapists not to mention vandals who throw rocks along the highway or underpass.

From the looks of it, PNP Chief Ricardo Marquez is bringing the police force back to basics where it should have been a long time ago. The idea of placing 200 PNP officers on EDSA establishes police visibility and reintroduces our policemen to the public who have all but given up on seeing cops on the streets. The mistaken notion that cops should be chasing after criminals and not helping sort out traffic problems was a tactical error because discipline and law enforcement begin on the streets and not inside police precincts.

During the three times I’ve been invited to lecture on policecommunity relations, I always make sure to point out that the job of the police is not to conduct medical missions, host sports tournaments, or give scholarships to the poor or needy. Yes all those activities add to building a good reputation for the police, but the REAL job of the police or the PNP is law enforcement. If they fail at doing this no amount of goodwill or PR will make up for their failure. First be cops, and then be good citizens.

I hope the new Chief PNP also implements a rule that only two cops ride patrol cars, not four at a time that patrol cars should not be tinted or air-conditioned or should patrol with windows rolled down. Might I also add that since the PNP often targets motorcycle riders at checkpoints, maybe they should invite at least one enforcement officer of the LTO to inspect and apprehend vehicles that have open mufflers that create so much noise and disrupts peace and order.

As far as “gun licensing made easy” is concerned, General Marquez might want to consider issuing three- to five-year gun licenses instead of annual renewals. The PNP can collect larger sums in fees, cut down on paper work and manpower and seriously reduce red tape and starve fixers out of the PNP. General Marquez might want to assign a research team to study the possibility of Barangay based licensing/gun registration since every Barangay has a police precinct where cops often have a lot of free time in between operations and patrol, or just send dedicated teams as part of image building and public assistance. Congratulations to the PNP.

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