By March 9, 2021Opinion, Punchline

No bus trips from Dagupan to QC?

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


SOMETHING just isn’t right – I see provincial buses cruising to La Union and Ilocos provinces from Quezon City but no provincial bus coasting along to Pangasinan.

How is it possible that the smaller provinces with much smaller population in the region get better deals from the LTRB, and not Pangasinan, the biggest and most populated in the region?

In such a situation, one can only surmise that there is a stumbling block that’s rejecting the demand for the resumption of transport services in intra region routes, particularly, to and from Pangasinan-Quezon City.

Could it be politics? No. Could there be someone in LTFRB who hates anything about Pangasinan? How can that be possible? Could it be about “What’s in it for me?”  Aaah… that must be it – and that could only refer to possible failed “negotiations” between and among the bus companies, LTFRB, and the governments of Pangasinan and Dagupan City.

To put it mildly – Who’s asking for what, how much?

Is it about the response of the bus companies to the demands of the Dagupan City government? OR the response of the bus companies operating provincial runs to and from QC to the demands of the LTFRB? OR the response of both the Pangasinan provincial and the Dagupan City governments to the demands of LTFRB?

But the other contentious issue in this problem is the absence of unanimity in the policy towards the intra-regional bus operations between Guv. Pogi Espino and Dagupan City Mayor Brian Lim.

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NO SHARED RESPONSIBILITY. I note that Guv Pogi did not have second thoughts in endorsing the requests of Victory Liner, Five Star, First North Luzon (Dagupan Bus?) for special permits to resume operations to and from some towns in Pangasinan, to the exclusion of Dagupan City, being an independent component city.  Mr. Espino reportedly went out of his way to ask Mr. Lim to join him in endorsing the resumption of operations to and fro Pangasinan and Dagupan since the city already hosts major bus terminals in the city. But he was disappointed. 

Mr. Espino had expected Mr. Lim to respond positively and fast but Mr. Lim was cool to the idea. The city mayor obviously is not the least excited for his residents to see the provincial buses serving the city. Unlike the proactive stance of Mr. Espino, Mr. Lim would not consider the resumption as an urgent matter that must be served his constituents.  

So, if Mr. Lim doesn’t relent, Dagupeños will soon find themselves in a situation possibly seeing themselves traveling to Lingayen or San Carlos to catch a trip to QC, or picking up relatives in Lingayen or San Carlos City who arrived from their P2P (point to point) travel from QC.   

That’d be the new normal for Dagupeños, courtesy of Mr. Lim.

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OVERCHARGING FOR WATER. Just as many feared, the customers of the Dagupan City Water District suddenly woke up to see their water bills hitting the roof, as a result of DCWD’s partnership with Pamana Water Company without as much explaining what the increase in the monthly charges was all about.

And to the wonderment of many others, the Dagupan Sangguniang Panlungsod didn’t bother to look into the details of the joint venture for the protection of the city residents when they had the chance last month. My suspicion is no one in the city council has even seen the copy of the joint venture agreement to this day.

But as reported in our issue this week, the city council will finally start asking questions about the MOA. Too late, but never too late for an investigation and for someone to file a petition before the court for a TRO.

The city council’s investigation should recall to the session, not only the resource persons who defended the joint venture and which the councilors supported “without looking” but the board members of the DCWD who approved the joint venture. Mission: To determine what the increase in charges is all about, what other new charges can be expected in the next 5 years.  Surely, those who were actively involved in approving the joint venture were part of the deliberations the agreement that was signed.

While the city government may not have the right to stop the joint venture, it can and should protect the interests of their constituents against illegal practices and profiteering.

Who will champion the interests of DCWDs customers?

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ONLY ONE PRIORiTY: PROTECT ONE’S HEALTH. Let’s pray that the targeted medical frontliners in Pangasinan will respond differently and positively to the privilege extended to them by the government – to take first crack at the donated Sinovac vaccines unlike how some of their counterparts in Metro Manila reacted to the donated Sinovac allocated to them by refusing to take the jab. 

The initial resistance expressed by a majority of the targeted frontliners was obviously a manifestation of fear and anxiety not as much by what possible harm the vaccine can do to them but as much as what their anti-Du30 and anti-China peers would say about them if they willingly took the jab.  

Medical frontliners would be the first to know and understand that vaccines are produced to protect, not to destroy. So why would they even think or suspect that Sinovac would do them harm? It’s obviously more about the political undertones of accepting something from China, forgetting that it was Lin Hwa from China that came forward as the medicine proven to effectively counter COVID infection.  

Wouldn’t China be more careful about a possible deadly effect than us worrying about a possible negative impact from the vaccine?  

We have a situation where personal health is primordial over political agenda of some who inject politics in the campaign vs. the COVID pandemic. We need protection that vaccines can provide. Foreign governments and our government can take care of themselves.

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ACCOUNTABILITY, KEY TO GOOD GOVERNANCE.  Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was in Dagupan City last Friday to break bread with members of the local media. He tendered a fellowship lunch for a chance to interact with them.

Though it was not a presscon, the broadcast journalists engaged him on several local issues and concerns, from education to flooding in the city, agri to calamity and rehabilitation, the implications of and background on the P20-billion fund that was slashed from the 2021 budget.

While I’ve listened to him on many occasions, fielding media questions on national developments, I must say I was thoroughly impressed with his grasp of facts of national policies as they impact on local developments. The guy is undoubtedly well grounded.

If there was one statement, one word he made last Friday that summed up his responses, it was his view that local media must make both local and national government accountable in everything – whether it is about calamity response and rehab, education, flooding, economy, etc.

By making government officials accountable, they are forced to plan and prudently implement these with public good in mind.  Indeed, media should hammer on our public officials’ accountability to get the desired results.

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