Chicken coop for Bayani’s soul

Mr. Bartolome works for a major TV network. This article was published in the Yellow Pad column of BusinessWorld, February 21, 2005 edition, p. 21.

Many were impressed by Bayani Fernando’s performance when he first took
over as Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) head. Many were
pleased when he cleared the sidewalks of vendors. I, too, was excited
about this public official. Finally, I told myself, a public servant
who can make things happen.

Marikina residents have long been aware of how great their former mayor
is. And when I happened to pass through Marikina, I saw what they
meant. Marikina really looks different – more civilized, if I may say,
than the rest of Metro Manila, or other places in the Philippines for
that matter.

Lately, however, I have begun to lose trust in Bayani. Of course,
dealing with the country’s megalopolis is no easy task. Aside from the
wide variety of problems he has to face, the name “Bayani” seems to be
so unsettling at the very least, to mayors of towns and cities
comprising Metro Manila.

Nonetheless, Bayani seems to be losing his patience. For some reason,
the “pink discipline” that was so successful in Marikina doesn’t seem
to work on Metro Manila folk (despite the pink things he has put all
over the place). He seems to regard them now as chickens. And we all
know that restraining chickens requires building a chicken coop!
Chicken coop for Metro fools!

Metro Manila has become one giant poultry farm! Where is this
poultry-tization of Metro Manila leading to? Are these coops capable of
instilling discipline in Metro Manila? The only thing we can be certain
about is that suppliers of chicken wire (and pink paint, of course) are
now cock-a-doodle-doing to the bank!

Be that as it may, there is one thing that I don’t understand. Every
morning, I pass through this, intersection where one or two MMDA
traffic enforcers are stationed. In this intersection, jeepneys make a
left turn and often, the first one on the line stops right at the
corner to wait for passengers. Like most jeepney drivers in Metro
Manila, those who stop at the corner don’t really care much about the
other vehicles
waiting behind them, as if they were the only ones making a living on
the street, while other motorists like myself are presumably just
cruising along because we have nothing better to do than clog the
streets of Metro Manila!

We all know that waiting for passengers on street corners is
prohibited. The traffic enforcers obviously see these drivers and in
fact, call their attention and ask them to leave. But the drivers don’t
give a hoot! They take their own sweet time while other motorists get
angry as well.

While the traffic enforcers do get angry, they don’t arrest these
errant drivers. Is that the kind of training they get from Bayani? Are
they trained to scold, chastise, and tell off the violators but not to
arrest them? They don’t actually have to get angry – it is well within
their power to arrest these violators with a smile, even! This is why
they are called TRAFFIC (rules) ENFORCERS! I only hope these enforcers
do not extort money nor accept bribes from violators, despite their
behavior. But why, pray tell, do these drivers unabashedly violate
traffic rules and regulations?

I don’t think Bayani really wants drivers to observe traffic rules. In
places where U-turn schemes are being implemented like Quezon Avenue
and the Quezon Memorial Circle, for example, traffic lights at
intersections have not been turned off. Drivers get used to seeing the
lights change color, but do not react the way they should to light
color changes! Why leave them there?

These lights not only consume electricity, they also desensitize
drivers to traffic lights that drivers are already supposed to react to
almost instinctively.

How can one automatically stop his vehicle upon seeing a red light if
he goes through streets with traffic lights changing color but where he
does not have to stop on a red light or go on a green? On top of this,
there are intersections where traffic lights are needed but remain
defective.

I believe that if Bayani studied child psychology, he would discover
effective ways of instilling traffic discipline in Metro Manila.

One important principle in child psychology is consistency. If you say
that eating candy an hour before lunch is prohibited, you had better
make sure that the rule is followed everyday and that violations have
corresponding punishments. You don’t have to spank the kid as
withdrawing privileges or something enjoyable, although not really
essential, is as effective!

But if implementation of this rule varies, the child becomes confused,
as do adults. And if no punishment is enforced, why impose the rule
anyway? Or from the point of view of the child, why follow the rules?

The problem, I dare say, is that instead of studying these fundamental
principles of human behavior, Bayani seems so busy raising chickens and
building coops lately!

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