Post-PUV-modernization, I suggest a museum for tourists that shall be called Phased-out Utility Vehicles Museum, or maybe Public Utility Transportation and Automobile Monument. Why flatten and weigh rusty scrap metals out of all jeepneys, when some topnotch models can preserve culture, evoke sentiment and turn feelings for the fallen icon into cash? Meanwhile, new units shall be called Public Upgraded Transport Automobile Suites. Why stop at jeepneys, when e-train, e-bus, e-FX, e-taxi, e-car, e-Uber, e-Grab, e-trike, e-scooter, e-skateboard, e-bike, e-habal-habal, e-everything might later be profitable? I leave the decision of the official acronym of both museum and the units to, well, our bright government officials, and the professionals and consultants, who care a lot for drivers and commuters.
With e-vehicles, commuters need not worry about substandard roads, and elected government officials can sleep peacefully, without concerning themselves about choosing between the kickbacks they pocketed for their constituents-beneficiaries or the safety of the commuting public. E-vehicles hit two birds with one stone, and more birds to come as we proceed. Less congestion for the streets, too. Re-routing schemes will be implemented, for the good of private cars. Interest rates and guarantees and other perks will attract foreign investors, for the good of the republic. Nice hi-tech e-vehicles with Wi-Fi will be convenient for commuters stuck in traffic; higher fare rates, for the good of manong tsuper, or mister driver. Manufacturers of toy cars and the like (most probably outside the Philippines) may create new mini-models of these e-vehicles. New photo opportunities for photographers, new material for writers. All good things.
Everybody wins, except PISTON (Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide or United Group of Drivers and Operators Nationwide). The organization held a two-day transport strike that barely affected the lives of working people. It neither affected nor frightened the government that was so firm in its decision making that it suspended classes and work for the first day, declared the next day to be back to business as usual when the sun still shined and later suspended classes when the sun went down, with the add-on expected inclement weather prophecy as another reason for the suspension. Nothing but love and care from the Duterte regime for commuters, drivers, operators, all good people, except if drug addicts.
The government was neither affected, nor frightened that agencies, like the LTFRB, threatened drivers and operators who joined the strike with legal sanctions and possibility of suspension of operations by cancelling franchises; the government was so unfazed that the congress called for a special meeting on Thursday, October 19, so the drivers who went on strike can share sentiments and perhaps suggest solutions.
Nope, not affected at all, no paralysis felt, no effect, no impact, so, sure, the government can go ahead with its noble cause of modernization. E-vehicles shall also be equipped with drug-detection so they help fight the war on drugs. The units shall also be made of Gundanium alloy so “automobile suites” make more sense, and so the passengers remain safe from attacks of enemies of the nation such as drug syndicates, destabilizers, and rebels.
By now, readers should be aware that my suggestions should not be taken as they appear and consider the possibility that I am exaggerating and kidding to show how ridiculous attempts at modernization are and has ever been. With the proliferation of fake news, I deem paragraphs, such as this, necessary. Pardon the spoon-feeding and shameless plug, with this column article being my tenth: For those who have just been acquainted with Materials, for Preposterity, my maiden column or introductory essay discussed fentanihilism. I dedicated an article for big babies, wise voters who blame bobotantes (including drivers) or people who voted for the wrong candidates such as Duterte and his allies. The said children imply that the transport sector deserves the state’s offensives. I also wrote a guide for apprentices of rally specialists and something for mother nature, and her well-meaning children who grab ancestral domains in her name.
The same rationalization for eco-friendliness of e-jeepneys against smoke-belching old ones has been used by mining and logging corporations against what they presume as toxic unregulated small-scale mining and logging. Maybe, what they meant was echo-friendly, harmonious with the grand design of the ruling classes to plunder wealth for themselves, affecting the lives of the national minorities.
One should be wary of terms such as “development” and “modernization.” What Eduardo Galeano aptly wrote in Las venas abiertas de America Latina (Open Veins of Latin America) (1971) still speaks the truth: El desarrollo desarrolla la desigualdad. Development develops inequality. With Toyota, Mistubishi, and Isuzu as potential suppliers of e-jeeps; with the business interests of the Ayalas, the Pangilinans, the Aboitizes and the Cojuangcos; and the unfounded accusation that PISTON hates modernization, an addendum and an upgrade: La modernización moderniza el monopolio. Modernization modernizes monopoly.
With these, Duterte utilizes tactics of the liberals who he hates in dealing with dissent: red-tagging, declaring PISTON as a mere communist front without addressing the issue at hand. If he carries on with labeling protesters as destabilizers, jeepneys will not be the only ones phased out, alleged addicts will not be the only ones “rehabilitated” through Tokhang, suspected criminals will not be the only ones “salvaged” without due process. Democratic rights, civil liberties and their respective advocates might be phased out, too, despite Duterte’s sketchy declaration of a “revolutionary government” reminiscent of Marcos’s “democratic revolution from the center.” Demolition happens in the Floodway as I type this draft on October 18, displacing the urban poor; peasants from all over the archipelago campout and consolidate their ranks right here, right now in the capital, to demand land reform. The basic sectors remain disenfranchised.
Indeed, el desarrollo desarrolla la desigualdad; la modernización moderniza el monopolio; el fentanihilismo persigue el pueblo. Fentanihilism persecutes people. But, as the militant chant goes: the people, united, will never be defeated. Hasta la victoria siempre.