Thug on Superman’s cape | Inquirer Business
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Thug on Superman’s cape

/ 02:43 AM December 05, 2016

In the recent Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum, the beleaguered Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade pleaded he could never be Superman.

In dislikening himself to the comic book icon with the red cape and the X-ray vision, he perhaps wanted to stress the gravity of our transportation problems, needing somebody from another planet to solve it.

Still, sir, we need you to be Superman!


For the longest time we have been in this terrible traffic mess, without any relief in sight, as studies by the Japanese agency Jica showed that the traffic in Metro Manila alone cost at least P2.4 billion a day, about to swell up to P6 billion a day in 15 years.

It so happened that the non-Superman Tugade also pushed for “emergency powers” in Congress to allow the administration of the motorbiking Duterte Harley to award contracts even without bidding.

They would involve some P3 trillion worth of projects.

Superman or not, the man on top of those projects should also be a hallowed saint. Or at least beyond reproach like Caesar’s wife.

For this administration would pursue the P9-trillion “golden age of infrastructure” that Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno has been talking about a lot lately.

Diokno has been proselytizing that the administration could borrow dirt cheap money to update our pathetic infrastructure.

The latest competitiveness report of the World Economic Forum ranked the Philippines at 112th (out of 138 countries) in the “quality of infrastructure” category.

Interestingly, official records showed the national budget already tripled in the past 10 years, from P1.1 trillion in 2007 to P3.3 trillion in 2017.


Yet our transport infrastructure still succeeded in being backward!

No wonder, Sen. Jose Victor Ejercito likened the transportation crisis to the drug crisis, because it also impaired the well-being of all Filipinos—rich and poor alike.

Recently, the United Nations even held the first ever global conference on “sustainable transport,” in which the UN undersecretary general Wu Hongbo noted that the world would need the “integration” of all forms of transport.

The conference concluded that road, rail, aviation, ferry and maritime modes of transport would need to work together like one unit.

So that kind of “integration” would be another concern for Tugade and his boys in DOTr.

Indeed, the DOTr could become one super-agency, albeit headed by a non-Superman, simply because Duterte Harley could only rely on Tugade to update our transport system by at least a hundred years—and update it fast.

Remember, the New York City subway already turned 100 years old.

Unfortunately, even before he could dig even just a little shovel of dirt, Tugade was already the target of nasty media demolition jobs, saying he was an ordinary thug or something.

It could be partly due to his demeanor—who knows?

Among his golf buddies at the Alabang Golf Club, the man was always known as an emphatic speaker, likely to get too excited and emotional, perhaps even rubbing people the wrong way.

It was also possible that Tugade started at the DOTr with a baggage of sorts: the appointment of Noel Kintanar as undersecretary for rail, said to be tugging on Tugade’s position as one of the trusted classmates of Duterte Harley.

Not that Kintanar was not qualified, having been an executive of the Ayala group, with an undergraduate degree from UP and a post-graduate degree from Harvard.

It was just that Kintanar was appointed as undersecretary for rail, when the Ayala group itself had a hanging deal with the government on the LRT-1 line.

He also landed the usec appointment in June 2016, even before Duterte Harley got to Malacañang, way before other Cabinet appointments.

Kintanar resigned recently, saying he would like to give Tugade a free hand in addressing “misconceptions” against the DOTr.

In other words, Tugade could do it all his way!

During the flag ceremony at the DOTr recently, Tugade called on the employees to refrain from accepting gifts during the holidays.

That would mean any “gift” from any individual or any organization!

I thought that kind of correctness was a job for Superman.

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