Saturday, June 10, 2023

Delivering Stories of Progress


FIRING LINE: TM Kalaw rugby kids

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Okada Manila
Hotel Okura Manila
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Novotel Manila
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By Robert B. Roque Jr.

One very rare midday that I happened to drive by T.M. Kalaw Boulevard in Manila early this month, about a dozen kids aged no more than 10 crisscrossed the street at their own lazy pace — one open hand outstretched to the windows of cars ahead of me and the other clasped at a plastic bag pushed at the center of their faces. It was an appalling sight!

That instant, I composed a litany of rants about it for this corner aimed at the Manila Police District (MPD). How could the MPD not police this major thoroughfare at the corner of Taft Avenue when its main headquarters was just half a kilometer away on United Nations Avenue, and its MPD Station 5 even much nearer?

But after a few days when I surveyed the area much later in the day, I chanced upon cops on mobile patrol who got off and chased the solvent-sniffing kids away. So, yes, there’s an effort from the MPD after all, but not entirely effective enough to stick.

Surely, the MPD director should expect more commendable effort from his Tourist Belt boys. And support from the barangay and concerned City Hall offices must be well within reach to help end this problem.

If Manila cannot stop substance abuse by small kids in full view of traffic in broad daylight and then outrun the cops, what does that say about the capital city’s campaign against illegal drugs and addiction?

El Niño warning

“El Niño is here, and the food and water crises are real. We cannot afford to go back to a system of lining up for water rations.” Allow me to borrow and reuse this line from Sen. Nancy Binay as she tasked the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) to make a good account of itself.

The Rainwater Collector and Spring Development Act of 1989 (Republic Act 6116) has long been in place to map out an accelerated water supply program that should shield us from the impacts of cataclysmic droughts.

The law was enacted back when El Niño was called a phenomenon or rare event. Now, El Niño comes as regularly and, at times, more often than a leap year, yet the NWRB seems to have nothing to show for.

Seriously, who among you from Aparri to Jolo has actually lived or visited communities efficiently dependent on rain-collected water systems? Anyone?

I’d hate to admit that all our government could be good for in these situations is for alerting the public about an extended dry season, a calamitous drought, a hellish temperature that causes heat stroke, and water interruption advisories. It’s about time we demand a solution, not a warning.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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