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NUDGED to turn up a story how certain warlocks in Southern Luzon feel about the reported P10-billion grand larceny of pork monies involving lawmakers and one Janet Lim-Napoles, The Manila Times correspondent covering that region sent a report how two of those brujos are working to arrange for Lim-Napoles a final appointment with an embalmer.

Nudged some more for a follow-up news story since the witchcraft quarry remains alive and kicking dust into readers’ eyes, the correspondent informed the news desk that those brujos got sick, thus, their work had to wait until they recuperate, be up on their feet.

Apparently, it did not occur to the brujos to train their acupuncture needles or dark powers on the more gargantuan culprits—the accomplice lawmakers who raked 70 percent of the loot-- in the P10-billion heist. As the Tagalog sage would sigh in exasperation, “Nakita ang mata ng karayom, hindi ang mata ng daluyong (They saw the eye of the needle, not the eye of the storm).”

Such propensity to miss out on the obvious comes to the fore anew in a recent decision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to cancel the permit authorizing the Don Mariano Transit to ply its 78-strong bus fleet.

The LTFRB move came in the wake of the Skyway tragedy on December 16 involving an overspeeding Don Mariano bus with bald tires-- 21 people perished while 24 were injured in that accident.

The errant Don Mariano bus driver paid with his life for gross neglect of commuter welfare. If he were in the military or police ranks, he would have been slapped with charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The platoon or unit to which he belonged wouldn’t be dragged into one man’s culpability.

Hardly had a 30-day grounding of the 78 Don Mariano buses lapsed, the franchise cancellation wrote finis to jobs that each of those remaining 77 buses provided.

A bus unit puts food on the table for (1) one regular driver, (2) two spare drivers or so-called “extras,” (3) one or two conductors, and (4) a litter sweeper-body washer. So, those grounded bus units somehow fed over 690 people, including their respective families— merely Social Weather Station survey figures of Filipinos who balk at skipping a meal or two, and would hardly cause a twinge in the conscience of government agencies.

Even the Labor department cannot be faulted for cutting the slack on compelling bus firms to implement a two-tier payment system for their drivers and conductors. In likelihood, all the agency does is give out compliance certificates to bus companies that carry out the payment scheme that provides a minimum wage at the first tier and performance-based commission for the second tier.

Such a system was meant to deter bus drivers from hauling as many commuters as possible, whatever it takes to do that.

Maybe, even the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) stations—there’s one between Caloocan and San Jose del Monte cities-- which serve as screen posts to weed out colorum buses, have not included in their functions to check for bald tires, spaced out or drunk drivers that can be murderous to the health of commuters.

The Year of the Green Wood Horse trots out by February 4 and we might as well wish that such equine can infect government and the people with a contagion of horse sense—common sense has become a rarity these days.


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