The Monday strike by bus owners constitutes not only a breach of their franchise but a definite defiance of state authority. As such, their action is not merely an illegal response to a state policy but borders on sedition and economic sabotage. Once again, we have a situation where political will has become the issue.
The opportunity has arisen–once and for all–to institute traffic reforms free from pressures of vested interests and based solely on public interests. At the end of the day, there must be a rationalization of the ever-worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila and other urban areas.
Many of the present practices, such as the creeping boundary system, overpopulation of buses in strategic routes, corruption of police and MMDA personnel, kabit and “colorum” systems, indiscriminate garage and stops, bus overloading, arrogant bus driving, and high bus accident rate, are directly traceable to the power of abusive bus operators who–through their connections in high government places–thought they can do anything.
The test of political will of the Aquino government is before it. Inadvertently or deliberately, the action of the bus owners has put it on the spot. The choice is clear: the riding public or the profiteering bus owners.
Political will here necessarily means–after due process–the revoking of franchises or appropriate punishment of striking bus owners, using state authority–including declaring a limited state of emergency–to get the buses back on the road, and centralization, through a central dispatcher system–of bus operations.
The MMDA should use the opportunity here not only to implement its coding system but to institute the long-awaited traffic reforms in Metro Manila. As for the Aquino government, this is part of the litmus test the opposition will surely monitor for any weakness it may show–preparatory to its own schemes against the present administration.
People should support the underdog…ironically in this case, the Aquino administration.