by Alan Robles
On a rainy night last week, online editor Jojo Malig was nearly killed when his motorcycle ran into a large, unmarked six-inch deep hole dug right in the middle of a major road in Manila.
He broke a shoulder and suffered cuts and bruises – injuries which might have been much worse if his helmet visor wasn't down and protecting his face. He will be bed-ridden for a couple of weeks and will need physical therapy.
There were no lights or warning signs around the hole, which is about five by six feet in area and is one of several dotting the stretch of road.
The hole in question is still at the accident site, but it's keeping quiet and not making any statements.
Just kidding. Actually, Malig's tweets about his mishap triggered an instant response: as soon as they heard about the accident, various officials rushed forward in order to be the first to deny responsibility.
The first, and therefore the winner, was Manila City Hole, er Hall, which said it had nothing to do with road projects
That left the DPWH, which stands for the “Department of Placing Wide-open Holes.” It explained the holes were part of a “road reblocking” project which, as part of standard procedure, were left totally unmarked and in darkness.
“Our holes are shy and prefer to be anonymous”, we might expect an official to explain.
Kidding again. The truth is DPWH wouldn't say if it was responsible for the accident.
Knowing how things work in this country we can expect the following: Malig will immediately be referred to the ODR – Office of Dodging Responsibilities -- which has the motto “the buck stops here before proceeding to the next station.” It will refer the case to the BRDSH, Bureau of Randomly Digging Street Holes, whose members will be unavailable at any time because they will always be out randomly digging holes.
At some point the relevant offices will issue a joint statement saying nobody knows how the holes appeared.
This will be the cue for law enforcement agencies to step in and investigate. We can expect things to really pick up: soon police insiders will say they have identified the guilty hole and expect to make an arrest anytime.
The Justice Secretary might even hold a press conference and declare “there will be no cover-up. Especially of holes.”
Police will also mount an information campaign on how to avoid being victimized by holes. Among the guidelines: “Beware of holes that act suspiciously, for instance if it's looking at you too long. Also be alert if a hole just stands there and doesn't move.”
All the while, the original hole will just be there on the road, minding its business and innocently staring into space, perhaps waiting for the next victim.
It will then occur to government officials to arrive at the logical conclusion: Malig should be charged with public disturbance of peaceful holes.
“Why was he ostentatiously riding a motorcycle? Why didn't he walk? Why didn't he just stay at home that night?”, we might expect sharp investigators to ask.
For thoroughness, DPWH might even charge him with illegally using a road project before it's completed.