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Friday, March 1, 2024

Need to clarify issues on jeepney modernization

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“The fact that more than half of organizations did not join that strike shows that all these threats of strikes are just coming from lesser groups of jeepney drivers and operators”

The week-long strike of jeepneys nationwide failed simply because more than half of all drivers and operators did not go on strike.

Coupled with this was that here in Metro Manila, the MMDA or the Metro Manila Development Authority gave free rides to commuters, especially to workers and employees of government and the private sector, making it possible for them to get to work on their normal schedule.

Likewise, there was no suspension of classes.

A perfect example that the first day of the week-long strike did not paralyze Metro Manila was that our household helper who took the day off last Sunday was able to get back home to us on time on Monday, the first day of the strike.

And when I asked her about her jeepney ride, she said “ Everything was normal, sir.”

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The reason I believe the scheduled week-long strike was a dismal failure was that the jeepney leaders of the striking jeepney organizations just wanted to show the government their influence on the striking jeepney drivers and operators.

A good thing to ask is, why are there strikes against the so-called “phase out” or “modernization” of the old iconic jeepneys?

To me, there has been a lot of misunderstanding of the “phase-out” and “modernization” of the iconic jeepney.

The government had in fact postponed it to Dec 31, 2023.

And that misunderstanding was fueled by leaders of jeepney organizations who simply wanted to show their power and influence.

The fact that more than half of organizations did not join that strike shows all these threats of strikes are just coming from lesser groups of jeepney drivers and operators.

It’s for this reason why I believe the more dialogues between Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautists and leaders of jeepney organizations, the better.

There’s nothing like dialogues to clarify problems.

*** ***

At the rate proponents of charter change led by Senator Robin Padilla in the Senate and Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro for amendments of the 1987 Constitution, it appears cha-cha is inevitable on the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution.

In fact, at the House, the resolution for charter change by the hybrid duly- elected and appointed delegates to the Constitutional Convention has passed on second reading and more likely on third reading this week.

If the House will finally enact law on charter change through a Con-Con or Constitutional Convention voting separately, it will now be on the shoulders of the Senate to enact a similar resolution.

However, the Senate appears divided on the issue.

But, Padilla seems bent on his commitment to push for a cha-cha of the economic provisions of the charter ratified by the people 37 years ago.

In fact, Padilla is bent on convincing two or more of his colleagues on charter change.

The only roadblock are fears by some lawmakers and some big businesses that delegates to the Con-Con could also propose amendments to the political provisions of the charter, especially term limit.

However, if both chambers of Congress will stick only to the economic provisions, this fear could be erased, that is if the final law on charter-change will amend the very restrictive and oppressive economic provisions of an antiquated and jurassic charter formed and ratified by the people before the advent of cellphones and internet.

What I am wondering about is the big fear of some senators on the Con-Con, monkeying on the political provisions of the charter, which I strongly believe should also be done.

After all, it will still be the people that will ratify the new charter. Vox Populi Est Suprema Lex (the voice of the people is the supreme law).

*** ***

No doubt there’s need for amendments on the restrictive and oppressive economic provisions of the charter to correct its antiquated and economic provisions.

The Philippines now, according to recent studies, is ranked the third most restrictive among 80 countries, including Southesast Asian nations.

In fact, the index in the “Economic Freedom of the World” report showed the declining performance for three straight years, highlighting the need for Constitutional change.

Personally, I am all for cha-cha although President Marcos Jr. says charter change isn’t his priority.

It’s for this reason why I admire and commend Senator Padilla for his dedication and commitment for cha-cha despite all the odds.

Padilla has been going around the country to further discuss with the people Constitutional change. After all, it will be up to the people to ratify the proposed charter change.

Whether charter change will be through Con-Con or Constitutional Convention, or through Con-Ass or Constitutional Assembly, that remains to be seen.

The bigger argument against Con-Con is that it’s too expensive, costing some P10 billion, while a Con-Ass, since it’ll be through both chambers of Congress, is it’s already there.

But then, if it will be, Santa Banana, the political provisions of the 1987 charter will surely be taken up!

Now, which is which?

Only Congress can decide that, my gulay!

But, to me, Constitutional change is inevitable whether or not it’s the priority of BBM or not, or whether or not the Senate will sooner or later go for Padilla’s proposals.

I also believe some political provisions of the antiquated charter should also be amended, but that will need another column since there are many political provisions of the charter framed 37 years ago that need updating, to catch up with the digitalization era.

*** ***

As a journalist for more than seven decades now, I am all for the amendments of the provisions on mass media that should be updated, but management should be only to 100 percent Filipinos.

I think the Constitutional charter change through Con-Con should open the gates to foreign ownership of mass media (radio, television and print), but management should remain in the hands of Filipinois.

Many of our mass media are in dire need of modern technology.

In fact, most of our provincial mass media are already jurassic and necessitating catching up with modern technology.

With management remaining in the hands of Filipinos, public opinion remains in the hands of Filipinos.

After all, Filipinos can only think Filipino. There should be no problem with that.

*** ***

Insofar as Alphaland Corporation is concerned, the late Roberto Velayo Ongpin, who was its founder, had wished his two daughters to be with Alphaland Corp., Anna Bettina Ongpin and Michelle Ongpin Callaghan.

Ana Bettina Ongpin is very capable and committed to the visions of her father.

Ms. Ongpin was elected Director of the Company on March 19, 2014 and served as President of the Company from May 31, 2016 to January 30, 2020.

She is also a Director of Atok-Big Wedge Co., Inc. and a Director and Vice Chairman of both Alphaland Balesin Island Club, Imc. and The City Club at Alphaland Makati Place, Inc.

Ms. Ongpin has more than 30 years of communications, marketing, project management, and operations experience in the management consulting and property development fields.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Wellesley College.

I will write about Michelle Ongpin Callaghan in my next column.

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