reprinted from Business World September 20 2005
In his Inquirer column the other Sunday Randy David likened our country to a Philippine Air Lines aircraft. He wrote: “Our country is an aircraft, and its name is Philippine Air Lines. We are its patient passengers. This plane is long–delayed for a host of reasons – a bomb threat from nowhere, a malfunctioning engine that has seen better days, chaotic procedures, and a crew that is too timid and too uncaring to explain the situation to the passengers.”
He realized how uncannily close the parallelism was when Flight PR 812, scheduled to take off from Davao for Manila at 2:15 pm left at 7:30 the next morning, after the passengers had gone through an ordeal of extreme discomfort, enervating luggage transfers, and disruption of travel plans with serious consequences. . There were passengers who missed connecting flights to foreign destinations.
I liken our government to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. Our government is a service provider and its name is Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. We are its patient subscribers. The service is wanting, its delivery almost always long delayed for a host of reasons – a system that became obsolete decades ago, an infrastructure that has been in disrepair for years, an undermanned work force, a business philosophy that apparently puts the interests of management above all else, and maybe a chief executive officer, who like the top official of the government, has too many items in his personal agenda, like supporting and cheering in person for two basketball teams, that he tends to be negligent of the company’s obligations to its customers.
I had come to realize this uncanny parallelism in December last year, when Typhoon Yoyong knocked out of commission one of my phone lines. I tried calling Repairs several times. All I got each time was a recording that said that all operators were busy at the moment but that my call was on queue and an operator would attend to me soon as they value my call. One Saturday evening, I waited patiently for one hour, 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm (I watched TV while waiting for an operator to get on the line). All for naught. I just heard the same recording over and over again at irregular intervals of 50 to 90 seconds. It is very much like dealing with government offices, staff are too pre-occupied (with official work and personal distractions) to have time to talk to you.
I finally got to talk to a repairman in the afternoon of the next day. He assured me that he would report the trouble and that I could expect action soon. Well, it took more than a week from the time a repairman said I could expect action soon to the time a repairman came to restore my connection. That is very much like the Department of Public Works and Highways promising repairs of roads.
The uncanny parallelism between PLDT and the government became manifest again sometime in the first week of this month, when the heavy rains corrupted the same line Typhoon Yoyong knocked out of commission last year. That is just like the repair work of DPWH, good only until the next rain.
My phone would go dead after only two rings. And when I tried to lift the receiver the moment the phone rang, I got disconnected. As I had a second line, I did not call Repairs to report the problem until the week of September 14. As usual, I only got the voice recording that says all agents are engaged at the moment. Just like trying to get release papers from Customs. One is told to come back again and again because the person in charge is not around.