Do any remember the MMDA's headline grabbing news of assigning women to police EDSA's yellow lanes? At least the desk bound ones must have been grateful for this short lived stunt. I am certain that their job description did not imply participation in ad hoc publicity stunts save for the famous catch all clause "...and shall obey every directive that the chief of the agency decrees in the national interest...". Now the MMDA is planning to train women as school bus, shuttle bus and public bus drivers.
We appreciate the MMDA's prowess in training for the specialized needs that it does. Considering the things it does, its conceivable that MMDA has training for street sweepers, traffic enforcers, garbage collection, fence menders, bus stop installers, landscapers, vendor clearance, squatter clearing, special disaster emergency vehicle operators, safety officers, CCTV monitors, social work in picking up street children and even at one time, hospitality trade when it ran the Metro Gwapo hotels. But that training is for the MMDA's in house personnel.
Naturally budget cuts will mean an end of temporary civil service work for many of the MMDA's defunct functions and the end of many of these worthwhile training programs if indeed they did exist. Anyway, in many cases, out sourcing might be the better use of accountable public funds even if such is prone to accusations of favoritism. With the announcement of the MMDA offering coding exemptions for buses driven by women, and the promise to train them, is the MMDA now performing recruitment and job placement functions for the bus industry, which, last we looked, is still a private enterprise? Is MMDA duty bound to spend public money on the bus industry just because the bus companies can't police their own ranks, much less, provide decent service to the public?
Since 2004, when the LTFRB issued bus franchises three times the route mean capacity of Metro-Manila's main thoroughfare, the oversupply of 20% capacity buses necessitated a big bulk of MMDA's budget. MMDA had to fork out fences, loading bays, CCTV cameras, loading bay traffic lights and more personnel to manage the unruly buses. Whatever extra income the LTFRB made from those excess franchises, was lost to the spending of MMDA to police them, along with the frayed tempers, higher fuel bills and lost opportunities to the rest of the citizenry as they suffered bus dominated grid lock for six years.
Equal opportunity for all
We have nothing against women drivers, including handicapped, gay or centenarian ones. We have experienced being deftly piloted by women, handicapped, gay and centenarian bus and taxi drivers all over the world. What makes them good drivers, whatever the gender or age is good training. That's why it is laudable that the DOTC wants all public bus drivers to qualify and study under TESDA to improve public transport service. That, at the risk of exposing our naivete, without being specific, includes all applicants - women, handicapped, gay or centenarian.
We are in favor of equal opportunity for all, including the differently abled. But there should be freedom of choice both for the applicant and the business being applied to. What we are against is any kind of legislated discrimination because, at least on paper, companies generally do not discriminate on the basis of gender, even if in practice some do. Remember the issue of gays in the US military : "Won't ask, won't tell?"
Despite the attractive term "affirmative action", setting a gender based quota on employment is discrimination. It also opens the floodgates to various niches of society to "claim" their own entitlement: gays, handicapped, autistics and centenarians. It doesn't end there because some of these sectors of society will now feel marginalized so they will now demand a special subsidy from government to allow them tax exemptions and government funding for retraining. How is DoF Sec. CVPurisima going to fund that? Its easy for the legislature to get into the act of micro managing the executive branch and pretend that money grows on trees. At this point, the government will accomplish far more if it rigorously implements the DOTC programs for upgrading the public transport workforce, regardless of gender or age, rather then get into this kind of misguided affirmative action.