Since the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) decided not to recalibrate taxi meters after ordering the reduction of the flagdown rate by P10, cab drivers (with or without the blessing of operators) appear to have effected their own “adjustments.”
The day after the reduction took effect, the taxi ride from the office to my apartment— which ranges from P78.50 to P85.50 depending on the traffic—cost me P99.50! Colleagues also complained that the meters in the cabs they took were running faster than the vehicles, the drivers driving so slowly and taking longer and more circuitous routes.
LTFRB said it would issue stickers to remind both drivers and passengers about the fare reduction. At present, I do not think people need to be reminded. The board should check taxi meters to make sure they have not been modified.
Consumer Rights Day
For this year’s World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, the spotlight was on unhealthy diets, linked to four of the 10 biggest causes of deaths worldwide: obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose (sugar), and high cholesterol.
Consumers International (CI), the United Kingdom-based world federation of consumer groups that “serves as the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers,” says obesity costs countries about $2 trillion per year in terms of medical expenses. CI is pushing for a global convention on healthy diets, saying the world is facing a major health crisis.
“Poor diets contribute to more than 11 million deaths annually and are now the number one global risk factor for death. Premature illness and disability from diet-related diseases impoverishes families, reduces productivity and threatens to bankrupt health systems,” CI says.
The federation says diet-related diseases are not just a problem among rich countries, as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are “rising far faster in developing economies.”
It points out: “Consumers don’t just need the right to food; they need the right to healthy food.”
CI says helping consumers choose healthier diets requires changing their food environments.
Such a change needs the following actions: reformulation of unhealthy processed food products to reduce salt, sugar and fat; restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food to children; better nutrition labeling; and provision of better food in schools, hospitals and other public institutions.
CI is calling for a Global Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets, “using the same kind of mechanism as the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control,” with member states of the United Nations’ World Health Organization, committing themselves to a framework of policies that would define healthy diets and healthy food and set out measures for the promotion and protection of healthy diets.
My apologies to Ross Harper Alonso, whose e-mail I mentioned in this column a few weeks back. I referred to her as a “he,” assuming that, like most people with that name, she would be a man. I remembered in particular actor David Schwimmer’s character, Ross Geller, in the long-running television series “Friends” that made Jennifer Aniston a big star.
With deep regrets I forgot one of the rules that I myself always emphasize when conducting workshops for campus journalists: “Never assume or presume.”
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