BOO CHANCO:  AMIDST CRISIS, PINOYS HAVE TURNED INWARD

MANILA, September 9, 2005
 (STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco - At about the time the House of Representatives was disposing of the impeachment complaints against Ate Glo and Tita Cory was leading a march in protest, I was getting a briefing from Pulse Asia on what is going on in the Pinoyís mind. Will the Pinoy now bring the crisis out of Congress and into the streets? Will Ate Glo now be able to govern effectively, assuming she has the inclination and the ability to do that?

Woe to us all! The survey numbers gathered by Pulse Asia carried no good tidings for us in the short term and possibly in the long term as well. A large majority (80 percent) think the country is worse off today. A significant majority (67 percent) told Pulse Asia researchers they see their personal lives worse today than a year ago. Half of Pulse Asia respondents say they expect no relief in sight. In other words, they are pessimistic about their future.

Topping the list of their personal concerns is making sure they keep themselves healthy. Having something to eat, schooling for the children and having a job are the other top preoccupations. And as far as they are concerned, they no longer trust their public officials. Pinoys are now very aware of the reality that if they are to survive in todayís hard times, they have to make it on their own.

How exactly do the hard up Pinoys try to cope with todayís challenges? Two ways of coping came to light in the Pulse Asia survey. Those who can, go abroad, even if a slight majority of Pinoys say they want to stay here even if given a chance to go elsewhere. Those who are stuck here resort to prayer. Hmmm. If only they had some purchasing power left, I see a market here for a good new religion...one that can address their fears, their needs and credible leaders they can believe in.

The Pulse Asia numbers also reveal a kind of good news for Ate Glo in the wake of the trashing of impeachment complaints against her. The number of Pinoys who are inclined to protest in the streets have gone down dramatically from 18 percent to just three percent.

So it seems, Tita Cory notwithstanding, Ate Glo is safe from a repeat of a People Power exercise that brought the two of them to power. But it is a mistake for Ate Gloís people to say there is not enough anger out there to drive people to the streets. There is a lot of anger there but also a lot of doubt that the old strategy will amount to any good.

It is funny that even if a large majority either wants her to resign or thinks she is the worse possible choice to be president, Ate Glo is safe in MalacaŮang because the Pinoy today sees no real alternative. VP Noli de Castro is losing traction because he is so closely identified with her. And let us face it, Noli isnít projecting the image of capability either which makes people think he isnít. I get snickers and stares when I say he is competent and not just a news reader with a good voice.

The worrisome part of recent events is that after the impeachment complaints were junked, there is still obviously no closure on the issues that brought them about. Thatís because, as the Pulse Asia numbers revealed, there is no preferred scenario to replace the current one, even if there is a plurality in favor of a snap election. And forget Con Ass. It has no real support.

One thing the Pinoy is sure of despite the crisis situation today is that it is not necessary to impose martial law in order to solve our problems. A substantial majority (67 percent) say so. All those proponents of a transition council may just as well think of some other scheme again. The most heartwarming of Pulse Asiaís findings is that nearly seven in 10 Pinoys refuse to give up on the Philippines, disagreeing with the proposition that the country is already a hopeless case.

So, how is the Pinoy coping with all his problems today? According to Pulse Asia, the Pinoy is coping by turning inward. Like how? Like worrying about his own circumstances and bahala na how the rest of the country resolves the national ones, like what to do with Ate Glo.

Thatís understandable. The Pinoy is busy dealing with survival issues on a daily basis. Personal food security is now listed a prime concern by 41 percent of respondents, up from 29 percent last March.

This explains why even as the Pinoy has not lost hope on the country, cynicism and pessimism have set in. Traditionally respected institutions, like the Church, are suffering a credibility crisis as well. After all, when bishops are kept in line by Pagcor donations, who can people believe in now?

The ĎMí word

Last Wednesday, I wrote about how the American response to the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is a classic management case study. I was just reading a column at the Financial Times that said the same thing. Here is how the columnist, Simon London, viewed it.

The chief executive stood at the podium before an audience of restive reporters. "The results are unacceptable," he conceded, before promising to do everything in his power to address the situation. On radio and television news bulletins, pundits blamed the crisis on lack of investment, slow decision making and poor coordination.

The drama is played out every week in New York, London and Tokyo. In this case, however, the CEO in question was not running a joint stock corporation but the government of the United States. President George W. Bush was trying to explain not why earnings were below expectations but why New Orleans, a city of half a million people, was below several feet of water. Action was needed not to restore margins but to save lives...

...the episode is a grim reminder that management is about more than profit and loss... In public and private sectors alike, bad management can destroy livelihoods and, in extreme circumstances, cost lives... If you need more evidence, think of the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, the Ford/Firestone tire debacle and the tragedy of Bhopal.

There was perhaps above average expectations of the management skills of George W. Bush, the first MBA (Harvard) to become President of the United States.

C5 and Kalayaan

I got a letter from DPWH Usec Manuel Bonoan saying that DPWH recommended the cancellation of the Japanese government assistance to construct flyovers in among other areas, that major traffic bottleneck at the corner of C5 and Kalayaan in Makati. They did this, Bonoan wrote, "in view of the position taken by the MMDA (who is responsible for coordinating traffic management in Metro Manila) to adopt instead the U-turn schemes along these critical intersections."

Well, that was not what MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando told me when I asked him about plans for that corner. In the presence of other members of the Tuesday Club, Chairman Fernando said what he opposed was the proposal to construct expensive tunnels that would also adversely affect traffic flow during a longer period of construction. What he wanted was above ground structures that still look like overpasses or flyovers that would make it easier for vehicles to make U-turns.

I also just called up Chairman Fernando to reconfirm what I remember he said. He confirmed my recollection. He complained that the DPWH does not seem to understand what he had in mind. He offered to send me a Power Point presentation, which I presume, he used to explain his counter proposal to the DPWH.

Ay naku! This is a serious breakdown of communication among our government officials. Unfortunately, this translates into a breakdown of public services. Maybe, before Usec Bonoan decided to write me to clarify what I wrote, he should have touched base with Chairman Fernando to make sure he got it right. Thatís not difficult to do. I did it in less than a minute.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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