Never imag­ined

The Philippine Star - - OPINION - Email: CITO BEL­TRAN

We never think of med­i­cal emer­gen­cies on va­ca­tion and few of us have any idea where hos­pi­tals and doc­tors are in cer­tain tourist destinations. Last week­end that re­al­ity hit home while we were in Baguio. Our friend Art Ma­nun­tag was per­form­ing and just af­ter singing his first song he col­lapsed from an ap­par­ent heart at­tack. Within minutes, nurses and an EMT of John Hay Manor was on stage with equip­ment, and by the time we man­aged to lift Art to the drive­way, an am­bu­lance was rolling up and promptly took over.

The next morn­ing the ho­tel nurse started check­ing the blood pres­sure of the guys who as­sisted and stayed up un­til 2:30 in the morn­ing to help, be­fore al­low­ing us to drive down to Manila. High BPs and Fer­raris are not a good mix. I be­came pick of the liter and was sent up for med­i­ca­tion and to take a short nap! This ex­pe­ri­ence teaches all of us to re­search on med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties, bring your BP mon­i­tor, medicines and be care­ful be­cause on many oc­ca­sions we end up over do­ing things in­stead of ac­tu­ally rest­ing. Most im­por­tant know the num­bers and how to get to the best hos­pi­tal!

* * * Is Se­nate Pres­i­dent Koko Pi­mentel try­ing to be a healer or a dealer?

I just got word that Se­na­tor Pi­mentel will be vis­it­ing Leyte as guest of honor and or­ga­nizer of a po­lit­i­cal event this com­ing Satur­day, Nov. 18 in Palo, Leyte, home turf of the Petilla clan. It seems that Se­na­tor Koko will be the of­fi­ci­at­ing of­fi­cer when var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal groups and per­son­al­i­ties take their oath as new mem­bers of the PDP-La­ban in­clud­ing all the politi­cians who hate each other’s guts. I was also in­formed that politi­cians op­posed to the Petil­las were “Told” to join the swear­ing in cer­e­mony.

This “un­ex­pected” move of Pi­mentel has raised eye­brows if not ques­tions about his mo­tives. Is he sim­ply beef­ing up the for­merly party of one and re­cruit­ing ev­ery­body will­ing to join the PDP-La­ban? Is Pi­mentel at­tempt­ing to me­di­ate and heal po­lit­i­cal wounds in Leyte par­tic­u­larly be­tween the Petil­las and the Ro­mualdezes in or­der to dom­i­nate or dic­tate on the line-up or out­come of the 2019 elec­tions? Does Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte know or ap­prove of the union of the PDP-La­ban with politi­cians who failed or aban­doned Ta­cloban and op­posed his Pres­i­den­tial bid? And did the Se­nate Pres­i­dent con­sult lo­cal of­fi­cials and party heads about his con­tro­ver­sial move?

As far as the PDP-La­ban mem­ber­ship goes, I do know that their party has be­come the prime ex­am­ple of quan­tity not qual­ity. In fact I heard a joke go­ing around in CamSur when the PDP-La­ban also swore in turn­coats and strag­glers from the Lib­eral Party into the PDP-La­ban. A high-rank­ing of­fi­cial quipped: May natira pa bang Lib­eral? If Pi­mentel thinks he can heal the wounds be­tween the Petil­las and the Ro­mualdezes then he ap­par­ently is more naïve than I imag­ined. As far as Pres­i­dent Duterte is con­cerned, I have a feel­ing he will blow a fuse over this mass re­cruit­ment es­pe­cially when he hears that the re­cruit­ment has given the im­pres­sion that it’s an in­sur­ance plan for when Duterte is no longer pop­u­lar.

Sadly, when I checked with peo­ple on the ground, I found out that Pi­mentel never asked for the opin­ion of peo­ple or checked how deep the re­sent­ments or ha­tred is among the feud­ing par­ties in Leyte. So in­stead of say­ing a prayer for unity, Pi­mentel might as well prac­tice an­nounc­ing: “Lets Get Ready To Rr­rrum­m­mm­ble!” * * * “Sir, How do you solve a prob­lem like Maria?” Some gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are not quite sure on what to do and how to han­dle the con­tro­ver­sial ASEAN Lane in­va­sion of Maria Is­abel Lopez. Lopez has al­ready been bashed and apol­o­gized for her act of bel­liger­ence cou­pled with her post­ing on so­cial me­dia. But the ques­tion still re­mained? All I could say was; “He who is with­out sin, let him

cast the first stone.” What else was I sup­pose to say know­ing full well that the night be­fore as I ex­ited from the NLEX – Bal­intawak off ramp I un­in­ten­tion­ally landed on the “ASEAN Lane.” Any­one fa­mil­iar with that “con­nect­ing area” knows how dark the place is and how self­ish driv­ers can be and won’t stop to give you room. In that brief mo­ment I had no idea I was on the ASEAN Lane al­ready un­til I passed the Con­gres­sional Av­enue – EDSA in­ter­sec­tion. There were no cops, no traf­fic en­forcers; it was dark in the area.

When I re­al­ized I was on the wrong side, I tried to find an exit but each exit had two lanes of ve­hi­cles turn­ing left across the ASEAN Lanes and block­ing us from get­ting out. Ev­ery exit point was blocked or you had to drive past be­cause the buses were on your tail, even the veg­etable ven­dor was on the ASEAN Lane.

It’s dif­fi­cult for gov­ern­ment to act all “Per­fect” and right­eous when they are re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing an “im­per­fect” sys­tem. For starters, there was no need to eat up two lanes. If I re­mem­ber cor­rectly we only as­signed one lane dur­ing APEC. That be­ing the case, why was the ASEAN Lanes left un­su­per­vised and not op­er­ated as a flex­i­ble sys­tem that could be cleared when del­e­gates ar­rive and then opened to the pub­lic when not in use. It’s roughly 60 to 70 kilo­me­ters from Clark and the NLEX had cops at ev­ery kilo­me­ter who could eas­ily ra­dio in an ar­riv­ing dig­ni­tary.

Pasig City ap­plies the flex­i­ble counter flow sys­tem and I have wit­nessed even more com­pli­cated ways in Bangkok, Thai­land. The cru­cial point was they had a sys­tem, they had peo­ple and they op­er­ated via ra­dio and not mere gov­ern­ment pro­nounce­ments and de­signs that are con­ve­nient for au­thor­i­ties but a three­day long ma­jor in­con­ve­nience to peo­ple start­ing from Pam­panga all the way to Manila. Some busi­ness­men from Pam­panga said that there was also a Truck ban on NLEX for the du­ra­tion of the ASEAN so de­liv­er­ies had to stop. No won­der tourists were buy­ing up all the veg­eta­bles on Ken­non Road.

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