Traffic plans before traffic powers

The problem has been around for what seems like ages, and the statement has become a truism. Instead of improving the past six years, given the much vaunted "straight path" and advances in traffic management and technology, not to mention advice given gratis by experts from around the world, traffic in the city has gone from bad to worse.

As a much-cited Japan International Cooperation Agency finding has said, we lose P2.4 billion to traffic daily. We also suffer quality-of-life issues because of the torturous commute and constant breaking down of the public rail transit system.

Thus the proposed bill by Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to grant special powers for two years to president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to solve the traffic situation. To be filed at the opening of the 17th Congress, Arroyo's bill, among other provisions, allows the entering into of negotiated traffic- and transport-related contracts without bidding, subject to certain conditions.

The proposed law has gained supporters among lawmakers and businessmen, with caveats as to accountability and transparency in all dealings.

Granting the president-elect these special powers shows that we are at our wit's end on how to deal with a situation that has gotten out of hand, hoping that this extreme measure will somehow help.

But how? Are there concrete plans already drawn up and technology available that will ease the problem? Shouldn't they come before the granting of special powers, so that the proposed bill can be specifically focused on particular matters and not leave it open with loopholes that can be abused?

In any case, what we are is desperate. We're so desperate we'll try anything, including this. Godspeed to incoming President Duterte-he's got a lot of problems to fix, and traffic is just one of them.

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Here's another puzzle for the president-elect and his team.

A news item popped up yesterday about P67 million worth of missing security scanners. They were said to have been procured by the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) for airports around the country, but they seem to havevanished.

According to the news item, in 2015, the OTS purchased eight full-body scanners and eight electromagnetic analyzers for bottled liquids from Singapore, but none of them were installed; according to an anonymous source, because they were "lemons," perhaps meaning they were somehow inadequate or inappropriate for their purpose, if not downright defective.

What happened to those new scanners, and the older, "hardly-used" full-body scanners bought from Germany and presently said to be at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport?

With this administration winding up next week, I hope this mystery doesn't get swept under the rug. It had better be investigated.

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The University of Santo Tomas Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (UST CCWLS) will hold its annual National Writers' Workshop on July 24-30, 2016 at Ridgewood Residence Hotel in Baguio City.

The workshop aims to develop the talents of young writers in fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry in English and Filipino.

This year's fellows are: Maria Tanya P. Cruz, Paolo Francis M. Quina, Maria Nikka P. Policarpio, Eric John B. Villena, Paul M. Jerusalem, Timothy F. Ong, Emmanuel Y. Arcalas, Anne Joice T. Haro, John Patrick I. Allanegui, Jennie Arado, Giselle R. dela Cruz, and Rhea B. Gulin.

The senior guest panelists of this year's workshop are UP University professor Emeritus Gemino H. Abad and Philippine High School for the Arts director V.E. Carmelo Nadera Jr. The Workshop director is UST CCWLS assistant director Ralph Semino Galan, and the Workshop coordinator is Chuckberry J. Pascual, a resident fellow of the UST CCWLS.

The rest of the teaching panel is composed of UST CCWLS director Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, and UST CCWLS resident fellows Augusto Antonio A. Aguila, Joyce Arriola, Ma. Ailil B. Alvarez, Mar Anthony Simon dela Cruz, Joselito D. delos Reyes, Dawn Marie Nicole Marfil, Ned Parfan, John Jack G. Wigley, and Joselito B. Zulueta.

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Congratulations to lawyer Patricia Angela O. Bunye, who was recently named president of the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI), a global association of professionals involved in the licensing, transfer, and management of intellectual property rights.

Bunye, a senior partner at Cruz Marcelo and Tenefrancia law firm, is the first Filipina and first Southeast Asian president of LESI, and only the third woman to hold that office.

She has been involved with LESI activities for 22 years, and has served as LES Philippines president (2006-2009), chair of the Asia-Pacific Committee, and international vice president (2011-2013).

LESI comprises 33 national and regional societies with more than 10,000 individual members in over 90 countries.

Source: The Standard