Where The Law Is Only A Suggestion

If the Philippines is ever to achieve its full potential, the basic requisite is the adherence to the rule of law and its equal enforcement.

The Philippines has long been identified as the country where the law is only a suggestion. This is due to the presence of laws but the lack of enforcement and how those who enact the same or tasked with enforcing it are actually the first to violate or not comply with them.

The Clean Air Act has been law for some time now. Yet it is not enforced. Just look at how smoke-belching jeepneys and buses manage to be registered year after year by the LTO when one of the requirements is an emission certificate attesting to the vehicle's compliance with emission standards.
The truth is the emission requirement has been doctored and the LTO doesn't have the emission testing facilities to enforce the law. It turns compliance into a money-making venture by accrediting third-party service providers. The same is true for the requirements for the issuance of and renewal of driver's licenses.

The same is true with the Solid Waste Management Act. Waste is supposed to be segregated. Some local government units have been exemplary in their implementation such as Marikina. Others have been remiss and do not even bother to implement it. Again the profit motive takes over as the focus is which company will be awarded the garbage collection contract. We all know that it is one which is close to the Mayor of the city or the municipality. Marikina excels because it has its own garbage trucks.

Then there are traffic rules and regulations. Part of the reason why traffic congestion exists is due to the lack of discipline on the part of public utility vehicle drivers and the lack of enforcement of traffic rules and regulations. Each major stop along EDSA is a terminal for buses. The same is true for the side streets where jeepneys ply their routes. On certain thoroughfares such as Commonwealth Avenue, it is a combination of buses, UV Express vans and jeepneys competing for passengers.
The same is true in every aspect of the Filipino's daily existence. There is the combination of lack of enforcement of applicable laws and corruption in the government bureaucracy.

The same is true with elected and appointed government officials. There are good political dynasties and there are bad political dynasties they all claim. But politics has become a business and this is the primary reason why the concept of public service is a sham in this country.

One has to be pragmatic and reason that public officials have to eat too. There is nothing wrong with that but isn't it at all possible that the greed is moderated and the public's welfare is also taken into account?

Government's profligate spending is an issue in every country. But Filipinos suffer from the double whammy of being fried in their own fat because they do not even get their money's worth from the taxes they pay. Instead, they are left begging for what should actually be services provided for by the government that they have already paid for.

The public is also to blame for their desire to put one over their countrymen. One's social stature is determined by how your network of relatives, friends and associates are connected to the powers that be. The operative phrase is "it's not what you know, but whom you know which counts." As such, no one ever prioritizes what is for the greater good but that of how one can get ahead and cross over from being average to being connected.

If the Philippines is ever to achieve its full potential, the basic requisite is the adherence to the rule of law and its equal enforcement. Absent this, Filipinos will continue their miserable existence in a country where the qualify of life never improves.

About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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