I WRITE this as classes were suspended due to the rains unleashed by Typhoon Falcon enhancing the effects of the monsoon or habagat. The continuing vulnerability of Metro Manila and the whole country to typhoons and flooding is again being demonstrated in a very direct way. Despite the new technologies that we are using to monitor and predict the weather, we are still far from being ready when the rainy season starts.
Part of the problem is not just on the weather monitoring side. The vulnerability partly stems from the continuing social and economic policies that make it difficult for our people to rise above disasters. One of these are the problems brought about by environmental destruction. It seems that one needs to be a hero before we can surmount the ecological problems that our country has.
Scientist group AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People estimates savings of Php 1 billion to Php 3 billion per year had the government not pursued the disadvantageous Build Lease Transfer contract. That's enough to give free train rides for all 500,000 passengers of the MRT-3, everyday for an entire year.
"Mass transportation is a public utility and hence must be publicly owned and managed," says mechanical engineer Miguel Aljibe added, "AGHAM calls on the Aquino government to nationalise the MRT and LRT and operate the lines for the benefit of the commuters of Metro Manila."
Taxpayers spend up to Php 7 billion annually as lease to Metro Rail Transit Corporation (MRTC). A 2004 study published in the journal World Transport Policy & Practice comments that the contract of the MRT was unfair for the government, with the DOTC taking all market risk for the project while MRTC gets a guaranteed 15% return on its investment.
Philippines lags behind in terms of rail quality, ranking 80 out of 143 countries in the World Economic Forum's global survey. Indeed, it’s no surprise that delays and malfunctions occur frequently, and worse even accidents. Despite the fare increase in January, commuters still face the dire situation of these privatized trains.
Learn more about privatization and the need to nationalize our public utilities such as our mass transport system at “RECLAIMING LRT/MRT: A Forum on the Nationalization of MRT and LRT” on July 9, 1-4pm at PUP Sta. Mesa. See you!
Contrary to the claim of Presidential Adviser for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan, the price of rice did not decline when the government flooded the market with rice imports. This is according to the group Advocates of Science of Technology for the People (AGHAM).
"History shows that importation could not guarantee lower prices of rice in the local market," said Engr. Ronald Garcia, agricultural engineer and member of Agham.
In the past decade, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that the Philippines had imported about 17.00 MMT of rice from 2004-2014. However this huge rice importation failed to ensure the lower prices per kilo of milled rice in the local market. The average retail price of Well Milled Rice (WMR) and Regular Milled Rice (RMR) per kilo has doubled from Php21.04 and Php18.17 in 2004 to Php42.32 and Php38.93 in 2014 respectively.
THE insistence of government to continue its fragmented approach in handling the MRT will not solve the train system’s problems. Continuing this piece-wise privatization and hands-off attitude in such a tightly-integrated system is one of the causes of the increasing breakdowns. Engineers from the scientist group AGHAM, Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, calculated that the MRT train line experiences around 3.48 injuries for every 100 million passenger-miles, compared to the US which has 0.7 injuries.
AGHAM also notes that based on the data given by the DOTC, the monthly average of service interruptions has been increasing. In 2013, it was 2.83 interruptions per month, increasing to around 4 as of July 2014 and 4.3 as of June 2015. It was in February, May, and June of this year where glitches occurred nearly on a daily basis, in a span of 2-3 days.
Fortunately, so far, there has only been one incident resulting in injury for the year.