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After six years of waiting, the Philippines was upgraded to Category-1 status by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), meaning Philippine carriers may now expand their operations in the United States and, eventually, boost tourism and businesses between the two countries. The announcement, first made on Twitter by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, came as a surprise as it had been expected to be made by US President Barack Obama during his state visit later this month.
In behalf of all Bulakeños, I would like to call the attention of our beloved President Aquino to act fast on a promise he made last year regarding the immediate restoration of Angat Dam in Bulacan, which has been found to have cracks.
On Dec. 5, 2013, at about 4 pm, my husband parked our brand-new car at the Terminal 1 Naia parking area. He walked to the arrival section of the airport to meet our daughter. When they came back to the car, and as they were loading the luggage at the trunk, a ruggedly-clothed toothless man stood close to my daughter asking for money. Naturally, my daughter was frightened and quickly got inside the car. The man followed her, stood close to the car window and said grinning “Natatakot ba kayo sa akin, ma’am?” Since he was asking for money, my husband gave him so they could move on.
Two hundred forty-four, and counting. That’s the number of people injured by firecrackers and stray bullets as of yesterday morning. It may look like a tiny number against a national population that’s well over 90 million, but injury by firecracker is no simple incident. The injured are often children, left unsupervised or inexplicably allowed to indulge in this dangerous activity. And the bodily harm can range from painful burns to the loss of fingers, even a whole hand, as in the recent case of a 14-year-old boy in Cebu whose hand was shattered by an extra-powerful firecracker called “Super Yolanda.”
As of this writing, it has been 15 days since Ramon Tulfo came out with his report that the Philippine National Railways’ installed bridge ties are fast deteriorating (Metro, 6/24/13), but so far there has been no action taken by Department of Transportation and Communications officials.
By Neal H. Cruz
Happy New Year! I hope you still have all your fingers. On New Year’s Eve, I enjoyed watching and listening to all the pyrotechnic devices exploding and swishing up into the air. I listened to the crackle of powerful firecrackers, watched the rockets shoot up into the air and explode in a kaleidoscope of colors to light up the night sky, and I had a very enjoyable time until early morning, but I still have all my fingers. And I didn’t have to spend a single peso on the fireworks.
Tonight, young and old will again put their lives on the line to mark the passing of the old year and usher in the new. Expect the infuriating scenario of merrymakers, almost always male, brought to hospital emergency rooms yowling or grimacing, and bleeding to within an inch of their lives. Their fingers and other protuberances may have been blown off or “merely” mangled, their face a mess of tissue and bone, an eyeball shafted by a piece of firecracker for good measure, all in the course of carrying out an insane practice touted as tradition or, more to the point, a “manly” rite of passage: bombing the bejesus out of the neighborhood—and burning a tidy sum while at it. So uncool, dudes.
By Neal H. Cruz
As this is being written, there are already 164 persons, most of them children, who have been injured by firecrackers. Three percent of them required amputation of the limbs. There is already one victim of a stray bullet fired into the air by an irresponsible gun owner. And New Year is still two days away. I am sure that by the time the New Year’s Eve revelry is over, there will be many, many more victims, dead and injured from firecracker blasts, stray bullets and fires.
The finding by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) that pilot error was behind the plane crash that killed Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo should remind everyone that in the era of easy and readily available air transport, safety remains a key concern and a nagging challenge.
ON BEHALF of the more than 600,000 hapless daily commuters of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3), I appeal, for the nth time, for its rehabilitation. How sad that my articles on MRT service, the last one titled “More fun in MRT rides unlikely for commuters” (Inquirer, 10/11/12) has also fallen on deaf ears. No word from the Department of Transportation and Communications, the agency that is supposed to look into and act on complaints related to transportation.
For several months now, the stretch along Osmeña Highway (SLEx) in Makati from Edsa Magallanes to De la Rosa Street, before reaching the Gil Puyat flyover, has been without streetlights. Travelling at nighttime along this stretch is quite risky for motorists and pedestrians alike, because of the total darkness on both sides of the highway. The Osmeña Highway-Arnaiz Avenue (formerly Pasay Road) intersection is an accident prone area and the site of so many tragic accidents in the past, notably the one that resulted in the untimely death of former Sen. Rene Saguisag’s wife.
By Juan Miguel Luz
In March 2011, northeast Japan was hit by a tsunami that took the lives of over 15,000 people and injured close to 30,000. As many as 3,000 remain missing. In all, 4.4 million were left without electricity and 1.5 million without water. As if that were not catastrophic enough, a severely damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant turned the natural calamity into a longer-term nuclear crisis for the country.