By Malou Tiquia | GMA News Online | July 24, 2015

To any Juan dela Cruz, a government is defined by the basic services and social justice it provides. After all, government is there to fulfill a social contract as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau wrote centuries ago.

I myself have experienced how bad it is. 

I lined up to renew my passport in one of the Foreign Affairs satellite offices. It took me four hours to reach the end of the line where there was a made up contraption that took my photo for an ePassport. All around me, there was no order. The lines were snaking up and out of the supposedly air-conditioned room. There were only blue guards guiding Juan dela Cruz in navigating the process. 

I lined up again for the renewal of my license at the Land Transportation Office. It took one hour with all the broken, blaring sound systems and the guides posted around the area telling Juan dela Cruz the procedural flow. Then you see fixers worming their way into the line, inserting the paper of their clients in the queue. At the end of it all, the person behind the glass panel points at a handwritten note saying no plastic license will be issued yet and that Juan dela Cruz should call a certain number to find out if his license is ready. I got my license after six months.

Let us take the airport service which to be fair, is improving these days. There was a time under this Aquino government when I witnessed a janitor using tingting na walis to clean a carpet early morning. He was oblivious of everyone and everything around him as he scattered dirt and dust all over the place. Truly, only in the Philippines.

But the worst were the immigration lines. There were five windows open but the queues were so long that those in line could not hide their irritation. There was no aircon, no one was explaining why it was taking long, and it seemed no one cared about the mess we were in. 

Sadder still is that the lifeline of the Philippine economy, said to be our modern day heroes, were treated badly. They lined up and were subjected to all sorts of questions that were not necessary. We are talking here of the people who are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances. 

Then when you step out of immigration, you don’t even see the trolleys and you wait for the staff concerned to gather them and bring the same to the area where it should be.  Basic services and we are not even talking of PPP and infrastructure gaps.

Truly sad because everyone talks about growth and the hottest economy second to China but where basic services are sooooo bad.  After five years, one can say that the Aquino administration values the capitalists more (because their net income grew) and Juan dela Cruz less. Basic services for the common tao went from bad to worst.  

We are not even talking about the MRT, which symbolizes what is wrong with Daang Matuwid and Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.

The MRT is mass transport.  When combined with land transport, it is a powerful machinery that can ease traffic and bring people and goods across the metropolis.  If the MRT is in a mess, the whole land transport traversing EDSA will be messier.  

The MRT is patronized by Classes CDE and some B, on non-peak hours. Imagine alighting in the middle of the route and walking the track to the nearest station because preventive maintenance failed. Worse, when it rains, it pours...inside!  One time, a door did not close. Several times, the brake system was compromised.

Then we have the perennial flooding that becomes more and more common because of a policy decision to cancel the contract for the dredging of Laguna de Bay without reviewing what is wrong with the contract or offering another solution.

That these problems have not been solved as this government enters its last ten months in office says a lot about leadership, management and governance. It says much more about BSA3’s empathy and care for his bosses, if indeed Juan dela Cruz is.

As one author stated, “Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it's accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another's eyes or heart.” 

Mr. President, BRP Sierra Madre represents flag and grit of the Filipinos, despite the odds.  But the MRT represents the inability of your administration to offer better basic services.  You need to care more for the simple and basic things your bosses need.