Duterte’s wrath and the BRT prototype
Even President Rodrigo Duterte must realize that only the most naive (gullible) or total fools would believe his claim that he had nothing to do with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s ouster prior to his public declaration that he is her “enemy” in last Monday’s press conference in Davao City.
“I’m putting you (Sereno) on notice that I’m your enemy and you have to be out of the Supreme Court. I will see to it and after that, I will request Congress to go into the impeachment right away,” an angered President Duterte told national media prior to flying off to China.
On reading about it, I was reminded of President Duterte’s warning to Sereno that he would declare martial law in order to render the Supreme Court inutile.
As the President recalled, the chief justice was then relegated to holding the umbrella for First Lady Imelda Marcos during public functions.
Mr. Duterte at the time reacted to Sereno’s order to judges linked to drugs not to surrender to police unless there is an arrest warrant issued against them.
Fast forward to last Monday and the President said he was riled up by Sereno’s insistence that he was behind the impeachment complaint due to Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition against her at the Supreme Court.
Why indeed would Calida file a quo warranto petition which seeks to remove an official from his or her post on the basis of the administration’s belief that she was unqualified for the post unless he had orders from the President himself?
To expect and believe that Calida would file the petition on his own accord would be like saying that President Duterte has no control whatsoever over officials in his Cabinet and they can do what they please. That simply isn’t possible “under his watch” as President Duterte put it.
That said, just imagine how awkward it would be to hear President Duterte issue this impeachment call against Sereno to Congress during his next State of the Nation Address in June or July this year.
Or if Sereno will be present when Duterte makes his report of his administration’s record in the past year to the Filipino people.
It’s not entirely impossible that President Duterte would reconsider his words but no clarification, not even an apology which isn’t forthcoming would slow down, much less stop the impeachment process his allies in Congress had started.
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To point out the obvious, opponents of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system need not look far to see whether the project would work in Cebu City’s streets. In fact, a prototype of the BRT had been operating since 2015.
As pointed out by Cebu Daily News columnist Gerard Pareja in his Salins Hulbot column entitled “The BRT-LRT Blues”, SM Seaside City’s operation of its MyBus units had helped provide convenient, comfortable rides to commuters in Cebu City and even Talisay City, who supposedly board the buses at the mall to their next destination.
I previously mentioned both the SM MyBus and Robinson’s Galleria free rides from a designated pickup point—BDO Fuente Bank for SM, Cybergate for Robinson’s—in a Jan. 11 column entitled “Mall Adjustment” and since then, the free rides had been a budget life saver for me.
Of course the free rides are intended to drive foot traffic to their malls, but these rides still helped commuters plan and cut down on their daily transport costs which is still a good deal.
BRT opponents, particularly Presidential Assistant to the Visayas Michael Dino and his transport expert Rene Santiago, would like to point out that the BRT buses would only crowd out the city’s narrow roads.
But let them ride the SM MyBus and Robinson’s buses and see if air-conditioned buses that drive straight from point A to point B with designated stops along the way don’t provide an attractive, cheaper alternative to the much bloated and eventually costly LRT.
Knowing Dino’s intractable hostility towards Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña—a hostility etched in the mayor’s rejection of the Ciudad Banilad project that his company pursued—he will insist on the LRT-subway type project even if it means setting back the city’s mass transport modernization program by several years or even decades.
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