Cross-posted from Filipinovoices.com
Maybe it’s just road rage from all the traffic that I’ve been going through lately, whether driving my (borrowed) car, riding a cab, or being a bus passenger myself, but I have always wondered: why the hell do we wonder why there’s so much traffic in EDSA, when an average of 40% of the road cannot be used by 80% of the vehicles?
You know what I’m talking about; it’s the dreaded yellow lanes in EDSA, wherein buses and jeepneys are free to ply in and out of, but once private vehicles and, more recently, taxi cabs, enter the MMDA boys come swooping down on you like pet vultures of The Great Pink BF.
Of course, nobody really questions the law because, hell, private vehicle owners? They’re rich! If they can afford a car, they should be able to afford a ticket from the MMDA! Unlike those poor bus drivers who can swerve in and out of them yellow lanes because — hey, it’s their job — and they have every right to cut into your lane because they’re "less fortunate" than you with your spanking brand new Chery QQ.
So, let’s review the kinds of laws Filipinos have written against the "more fortunate" because it’s just "rightful" for them and they give just advantage to the "less fortunate":
Seriously, it’s impossible to find what the whole point of this godforsaken law, and the way the MMDA boys have twisted it the other way around — theoretically private vehicles should be allowed in the yellow lanes because, heaven forbid, the sidewalks and establishments are deep inside them! Why private vehicles are treated like UN forces crossing the 38th parallel towards Pyongyang, I still don’t understand.
Never mind if almost half of EDSA is unusable — creating enormous traffic jams on an already overloaded highway — for which the apparent remedy is U-turn slots and pink urinals. It ensures that those who cannot afford their own cars and the "less fortunate" bus and jeepney drivers ferrying them have a free hand in doing whatever they want as long as they’re in these beautiful golden stretches.
Taxes on books and electronics
Why is everyone making a hoot against this "great book blockade" thing? It’s meant to keep you rich kids from getting your unnecessarily expensive copies of Twilight! Save that for the beggar outside your campus gate instead!
And if you think this is the first time the government did it… na ah ah. Seriously, did you ever wonder why those laptops, digital cameras, cellphones, and other uber-gadgets are just oh so cheap in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan? It’s because the Philippines places high taxes on these dreaded devices! Dreaded, because everyone knows that only the uber rich can buy uber gadgets and henceforth they must be taxed! Never mind if everyone needs a cellphone these days, never mind if laptop computers actually empower the downtrodden by allowing access to the internet and therefore free flowing information, and never mind if digital cameras allow people to get rid of film cameras which, with the hazardous chemical content of both the manufacture of film and processing and development, leads to various forms of pollution. Never mind, never mind.
The Lina Law
The mother of all "social justice" laws, the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (RA 7279) [PDF] colloquially called the Lina Law "lays down the groundwork for a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program" and "addresses the right to housing of the homeless and underprivileged Filipino people." Quite a noble law, seeking to allow the "less fortunate" a level playing field at finding homes.
Of course, a lot of unscrupulous-though-less-fortunate people also use it to steal land; while the dramatized cinematic representation is of some cruel Doña riding a Mercedes ordering goons to beat the crap out of poor laborers arms linked with wives and kids tearfully crying while the bulldozer comes in, many times hardworking OFWs, scrimping on meals to save for their dream house, come home with the lots they bought in the last seafaring-tour-of-duty occupied by gin-drinking merry men. These "less fortunate" persons then brandish the Lina Law being on their side, drawing the "rich" OFW’s savings into attorney’s fees in a court battle to get the land he actually really owns.
Who should benefit from our laws?
While there are laws that benefit the downtrodden that are commendable and praiseworthy, the cliche must once again be evoked: the road to hell is paved, gold plated, and vacuum sealed fresh with good intentions. Any law that tips the balance from one sector of society to the other must have easy-to-invoke stop gaps that disallow the law to be abused by the benefiting sector, or render them moot when the needs addressed by the law have become irrelevant.
Only when the law benefits everyone, not just the downtrodden, can a society be really called just and equal.