Ever since the 2016 election, many have gotten into the habit of using words like “discipline,” “enforcement,” “implementation,” among other synonyms associated with the no nonsense approach to policy taken on by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. However, regardless of how one may believe the administration is performing, the unfortunate side effect has left the country with officials armed with buzzwords that have become meaningless.
Politicians love saying they will “bring discipline” to their areas of jurisdiction or “enforce the law” to bring order, yet, when looking at how things operate, there appears to be no difference on the local level between the period before and after Duterte; only that officials seem to carry around a more prominent bravado.
The president campaigned as the “law and order” candidate, vowing to enforce laws that have gone ignored for years – a welcome idea. Given Duterte’s popularity, elected officials on all levels have since hopped on the bandwagon and are also donning the same “law and order” cloak the president brandishes. While the country is seeing a major crackdown on illegal drugs in the country, officials being exposed for misdeeds, and even the upcoming shutdown of Boracay due to environmental concerns, locally, there appears to be even less enforcement happening – despite the amped up rhetoric.
The primary issue on the minds of Bacolod City residents is traffic. The response from officials is typically, “There are too any cars on the road” – an excuse meant to absolve anybody of fault, except perhaps motorists.
There is no such thing as a “shortcut” in the city anymore and the constant battle between sluggish tricycle drivers occupying the fast lane, jeepneys making intermittent swerves and stops, pedestrians who choose not to look both ways before crossing, and cars continuing to drive against the flow of traffic only encourages one to stay at home – not a very welcoming trait for a city.
The city boasts an army of traffic enforcers who, prior to their deployment, were highly publicized for the training they underwent – photos of would-be enforcers posing with a thumbs up alongside city officials were plastered in newspaper across the city – and, in the end, residents are left with enforcers that stand on street corners (in the shade), many times huddled together, whose primary duty appears to be periodically blowing a whistle.
When it comes to enforcing the law, it’s all pointing fingers – one office after another saying the other has authority; government bureaucracy truly is an abyss.
Even Sundays, the one day out of the week where Bacolod City traffic is somewhat bearable, has been interrupted.
In discussing the enforcement of law and instilling discipline, since when do private security firms have the authority to stop traffic? Every Sunday, a certain house of worship along Lacson Street sends out personnel to stop traffic. They then proceed to take over an entire lane of traffic in order for their parishioners to exit, along with providing space for jeepneys to park and wait for passengers. With the ongoing construction along Lacson Street, they’ve essentially taken over the only lane of traffic in that direction.
City traffic comes to a complete standstill while waiting for the multitude of cars to exit the one establishment – does this place carry some kind of clout the average city resident is unaware of? With various city agencies all claiming the other has some different type of control, this place appears to wield all the power because they seem to have the ability to take over the main thoroughfare of the city without a second glance from any type of law enforcement.
Yet, people still babble on about “discipline” and “law enforcement.”
It goes back to an argument brought up in previous columns; the basis for this behavior can only be derived from an idea that elected officials believe the average city resident is an idiot. They can send out press releases and give speeches and, despite their words being contrary to reality, it is assumed people will merely listen and follow unwittingly.
Would like to hope people aren’t really that gullible but, given how many fall for those ridiculous “budol-budol” schemes, perhaps politicians are just seizing an opportunity. A method that only benefits officials and keeps the status quo of mayhem and disorder intact./WDJ