10 things I want from our next leaders

by Dinzo Tabamo | May 8, 2010
They say that elections are the only time in the country where the distribution of wealth is equalized. It’s a funny thought, but once it sinks in there’s a bitter aftertaste that follows. Because once the election’s over we get the short end of the stick again. One thing’s for sure, election season is certainly a very colorful time. As seats of power and wealth become up for grabs, it creates a vacuum that leads to jostling, positioning, and campaigning. The analogy of a circus descending on us becomes an apt analogy as candidates make clowns of themselves (click this link to view a few examples) just to be remembered by voters with short attention spans. I won’t just say who I’ll vote for, but I’ll come out and say that I won’t shade the circle of a smarmy douchebag whose political career is riddled with anomalous dealings. I made a list of the things I want from the next leaders who will occupy the positions we vote them into. It’s not a wish list of impossibilities like subway systems and creating a tax for jejemons, it’s a more practical listing, but I still wish it will come true. So before we all vote on Monday, here’s a list of something I believe a candidate has to live up to. And let’s all pray to God the Comelec doesn’t screw this up for us. 1.    Roads and infrastructure projects that are 100 percent kickback-free – Our cars depreciate faster than countries with good roads because of the pockmarked streets we have. I believe in the competency of engineers, I bet the streets would last longer if every peso budgeted for them actually went into building them. 2.    Don’t play with the road signs – When Bayani Fernando stepped down as MMDA head, all the pink signs he put up were replaced by green signs. These are supposedly for a more environmental thrust, the fact that administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro’s campaign color is green is just a magical coincidence. Now I have nothing against Bigo, I mean Gibo. I think he’s a very qualified candidate, albeit tainted by being associated with Arroyo Baggins. What I don’t like is the traffic signs being changed with each MMDA chairman. They tolerated Bayani’s pink obsession when he was on the administration’s side, but now they can’t stand it because he’s against them now? These are traffic signs not campaign materials, leave them alone. 3.    Professionalize traffic enforcers – Pick them right, teach them the laws, have them enforce the laws without bias, and pay them enough to be able to resist bribes better. That’s it. 4.    Enforce a real driver’s test – The behavior of a lot of cars and especially public utility vehicles on the road belie the existence of rational and logical thinking in those behind their wheels. I’ve said this before: make the driver’s test real, not a formality. If they flunk, have them study and take it again. 5.    Remove security escorts – If memory serves me right, the only public officials allowed to have security escorts are the President, Vice President, Senate President, and Speaker of the House. That’s only four motorcades. So how come we see so many blinking cars with escorts on the road? And they’re not exactly the most polite either. The big SUV escorts practically force motorists to one side to make way for the VIPs. It’s not my idea of a public servant. This unofficial privilege of bullying their way to traffic promotes the idea that they’re above us, and insulates them from the hassle of dealing with metro gridlock. How can they relate to our problems if they’re exempted from it? I wish I could see who’s behind the tinted windows of the expensive vehicles being escorted, so that I know who NOT to vote for. 6.    Make car registration every three years – It’s already being done for new cars, why not make it retroactive? Even if we pay more by lumping three years of fees into one registration, it adds convenience by making us return only every three years. 7.    Curb smuggling – Our local car industry is resilient. It managed to grow last year despite a worldwide recession. Yet, every time smugglers bring in cars and don’t pay taxes, it hurts the local car industry and the government; carmakers are deprived of rightful income, the government is deprived of tax revenue. It also creates an unfair playing field. They say the reason smuggling can’t be stamped out is because the protector is very high up, and despite frequent visits to the hospital it seems even the devil doesn’t want to take him. The car industry gives so much revenue to the government, but I can’t think of an active government initiative to protect and nurture the industry. We need a leader who thinks of the industry’s welfare. 8.    Ban putting names on anything – To those who put their faces and names on government projects like lamp posts, basketball courts, and street renovations, let me get this straight. You’re doing your job by building improvements in my community, using my tax money, and you want us to be grateful for it?? Do you know what temerity means? 9.    Prevent Ondoy from happening again – I know this is akin to preventing an Act of God, and I’m not trying to place blame on a specific entity. But I want a leader who learned from this ordeal that we, our friends and loved ones went through, and take steps to avert this catastrophe. I don’t know how specifically, but I’m not running for public office. 10.    Be honest to us – We don’t expect you to be a savior, we don’t expect you to eradicate poverty (anyone who promises that is a loon), we don’t expect you to be the solution to decades of accumulated woes. After a president who pretended he was for the masses, and a president who was never voted into office, the bar is set pretty low. All we ask, for a start, is you be honest and transparent. We know you’ll make mistakes, we know your resolve will falter, but never use convenient lies in lieu of difficult admissions. We’ll know if you’re lying, years of being lied to have made us familiar with the concept. Trust us, and we’ll trust you.
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