MANILANS CAN breathe not just a sigh of relief but air that is a little cleaner than usual—hopefully.
Mayor Alfredo Lim has ordered full and strict enforcement of anti-smoking regulations, starting with City Hall.
For years, smokers seemed to think Manila was the metropolis’ smoking area, everybody lighting a cigarette as soon as they entered the city. Now, hopefully, they will follow the anti-smoking law in the capital city just as they do in other parts of Metro Manila.
The beefed-up campaign could not have been more timely. The World Health Organization (WHO) has renewed its appeal to governments to pass and enforce laws that will prevent premature deaths from tobacco-related diseases.
WHO said smoking killed nearly six million people worldwide each year, mostly from heart disease, stroke, cancer and emphysema. Passive or second-hand exposure to tobacco killed some 600,000 more.
After strengthening the anti-smoking campaign, perhaps Lim can turn his attention next to double parking in most streets of the city. Commuters are put at risk every day by having to get on or off passenger vehicles in the middle of the street since both sides of Manila roads have been turned into garages. And, of course, traffic is stalled when public utility vehicles stop in the middle of the road.
The mayor can also resume his campaign against pedicabs, tricycles and kuliglig. It is not just that many are operating illegally but they also openly violate traffic rules and even behave like they own the roads, expecting other motorists to give them right of way.
Their argument that they should be tolerated because at least they are not committing a crime is flawed. If they operate without permits and violate traffic laws then what they are doing is illegal. Crime is not just murder or robbery.
Blanche D. Gallardo suggests that the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company shift to a computerized online telephone directory system, instead of the existing operator-assisted information service.
“It would spare the hapless consumer endless aggravation and hours of frustration, waiting for a so-called Customer Service Representative to become ‘available,’” she says.
Gallardo says the four-volume telephone directory is almost as useless.
“It’s like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Either I am dumb, blind or both, or these directories have been deliberately designed to sow confusion and earn additional revenues for PLDT from phoned-in inquiries,” she says.
Gallardo says she has yet to make one single connection using the phone books. On the other hand, ringing up the operator for assistance not only means paying a fee but also a long wait despite assurances from a recorded message that “your call is important to us.”
The last straw for Gallardo is the fact that the office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Muntinlupa City “or the number of any Bureau of Internal Revenue office” is not in the phone books. When she asked the operator she was told some customers requested unlisted numbers.
This is, indeed, strange and can only happen in the Philippines—a government agency with an unlisted number. Isn’t it supposed to make itself available to the public, especially since that public, made up of taxpayers, pays for its existence?
This is more than just a problem for PLDT. This is a problem that somebody in President Aquino’s administration should look into.
Gallardo suggests that PLDT be kind to the environment by doing away with the not-so-helpful phone books.
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