The State, represented by its duly elected and appointed leadership in government, possesses the power and the obligation to provide and maintain the well-being of society it seeks to serve. With this backdrop principle of civilized governance, how has the well-being of Metro Manila been attended to and held up?
The stark and sad reality is that, having been taken for granted, the doom of Metro Manila has been caused by serial neglect that spans decades. Ultimately, it is an abdication of pure civic obligation, shorn of selfishness and political predation.
The overweening expression of self-interest which is passed on as political foresight has never gone beyond the vistas of every ‘next elections!’ That is a given and nobody of clout and importance seems to arise and care. Besides, a mostly ignoramic electorate has historically been manipulated with crumbs and thus are hailed as a “resilient people.” Inured to hardship, yes and smilingly, condemned to perpetual stupidity! Truth to tell, the success of Philippine politics is in having bred a society of disorder and indiscipline, mostly in Metro Manila!
Urban blight, unrestrained population growth and inward migration, the abetted squatter intrusion, human and vehicular traffic congestion, deterioration and inadequacy of infrastructure, degradation of safety and sanitary standards, the environment--all these and more were not unforeseen. Our misfortune comes from the absence of applicable foresight.
Pursuing further our discourse of a week ago, we asked of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) the non-conundrum “Bayan o Sarili?” (Nation or Self?). Does the Philippine military establishment even realize and recognize that they have the capability and the opportunity to help solve the seemingly irreversible demise of Metro Manila? As no other entity can? Pro-Patria like no other? How will they respond?
READ: AFP faces 'Bayan o Sarili' moment: Saving Metro Manila
We all know and accept now that the principal, singular cause of our daily malaise in our Manila midst is overpopulation. It is the population, you stupid politicians and band-aid-brained bureaucrats! (Please be enlightened by this simplest of metaphors. The elevator car, when overloaded by passengers will not move, upwards or downwards, unless a number of passengers get off, first. Overload a boat, it sinks!) To reiterate, Metro Manila is now in the state of immobilizing disorder because it can no more handle its load of passengers.
The only national entity that can jumpstart the effective emptying of this over capacitated space is the AFP, in toto. To state once more, to relocate all (officers and offices, enlisted men and families, what passes for their homes and all commercial and social support services) military encampments and facilities as far away from Manila as possible and thus develop the other parts of the country. Spread the goodies, as it were, and see them multiply with better shared beneficence.
Better civilized and sober countries have their military facilities well spread out away from metropolitan areas. Many of these are in fact self-contained economic units that become the anchor of their respective communities’ economy. Ever heard of military or navy towns? For goodness sake, why are we deviants?
Uber tight as we already are, have you ever wondered why all the General Headquarters of all branches of service--Army, Air Force, Navy and the Marines (even the Coast Guard)
--are cheek by jowl ensconced within Manila and its nearer environs. Rapid urbanization, we knew it was coming but never prepared for it, has overtaken all sense and sanity. I am certain, our Department of National Defense will not be able to come up with a defensible justification why they continue to punish their flock--fighting force and families--with the crime and grime of the metropolis, with filthy squatter and squatter-type quarters, with a sub-standard quality of life; why they insist on sticking it out in an already irrelevant location. Bayan o Sarili?
The collective military leadership of the country, the Commander-in-Chief included, is called upon to answer the existential question: If you had the power and authority, the wherewithal to save Metro Manila from the prevailing irreversible perdition, would you not come to the rescue? Once more, with feeling. Bayan o Sarili?
BTW, there is nothing in the law that created the Bases Conversion & Development Act of 1992 (Republic Act 7227, and its amendments—7917 & 9400) and as well as in Presidential Proclamation 237 of 1955 that set aside 73,000 hectares (Fort Magsaysay) in Nueva Ecija for military purposes that indicates the eventual relocation of military facilities away from Metro Manila, where they have already been overtaken by urbanization. To quote from RA 7227’s policy declaration: “….to raise funds by the sale of portions of Metro Manila military camps…to enhance the benefits to be derived from said properties in order to promote the economic and social development of Central Luzon particularly and the country in general.” It appears that the well-being of enlisted men and their families was never a consideration. Furthermore, it appears that there never was any declared intention to relocate out of Metro Manila. An obvious absence of foresight.
The promotion of economic and social development means the creation of new wealth, new venues of commercial and social activities, new jobs during the process of development and in the aftermath, new venues of taxation, new towns and cities, a new life! This objective will remain a pipe dream, a physical impossibility without a ready-made, made-to-order or a re-directed population upon which to anchor development of new communities.
For next week’s and future columns: a) The Philippines is the only Pacific Ocean nation without a major city, a sizable population and a commercial center taking advantage of its Pacific beach front; b) why relocating a flagrantly irrelevant Philippine Air Force GHQ (Villamor Air Base) away from Metro Manila is a very sensible economic stimulus; and c) how best to utilize space vacated, definitely, not more malls!
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