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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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OPINIONS

That poll watchlist

Ninfa Leonardia

Car manufacturers are groaning, sales of their products had gone down drastically in 2018, and analysts are trying to find a reason for it. Do they have to look far to know? The last months of 2018 were full of reports about the escalating price of fuel, and what did the manufacturers expect? Who would want to buy more vehicles when the cost of running them is becoming prohibitive? Only yesterday, motorists were dismayed to see the mark-up in the prices of the fuel they use. Diesel, for one, had gone up by P2.30. Who would want to buy more vehicles with those prices?

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But they have to grin and bear it, because there is hardly any business entity, producer, or homeowner using gas-run transport, who can avoid having to pay the costs. And business reports from the oil-producing countries continue to frighten us with their predictions of further increases this year. I am afraid this will lead to the purchase of vehicles that consume less gasoline or diesel, like, for instance, motorcycles. And with that, expect traffic conditions and accidents to worsen.

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In the meantime, such developments are unlikely to bother those who are running for public office in this country. The election season is virtually upon us, and, despite warnings from the Commission on Election regarding premature campaigning, one only has to look left and right down the streets to see shameless defiance of such rules. National candidates are the worst, they have put up giant-sized billboards on the pretext of greeting the people, something they never did when they were not running for office. Me, I note down those candidates to make sure I do not include them in my voting list.

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This early, the Philippine National Police has already disclosed its poll watchlist areas and, thank God, our province and cities are not on it. Most of those included are places in Mindanao, with a few from Luzon. But long before the list was released those places already had been in the news for intense political rivalries. Let us hope and pray that such problems will not come up in our areas, both in Occidental and Oriental Negros, and that our people will observe elections laws and rules.

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The signing into law of the “Work from home” bill is a landmark event that should revolutionize labor practices in our country. Indeed, a lot of improvements both in the income and efficiency of our workers can be expected, since those opting for it will be able to “multi-task”, that is, accomplish more for the convenience and improvement of their living conditions. I can’t recall what country had started the practice, but it has apparently caught on, which is why our own lawmakers have adopted it.

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Just imagine a housewife and mother, who cannot afford to pay for domestic helpers, but who is technologically skilled and can handle assignments and meet deadlines. As a mother, she can stay home and care for her child or children, while working on her official assignments during every break in her time. I understand that the one working from home will be expected to perform and produce as much as those who actually mark time in and out, but will not have the compulsion to report to an office that could be located miles away, and have to pay for helpers to leave at home. I hope this new approach works.

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Another innovation, albeit a local one, is the setting up of a “bicycle lane” in Bacolod City. That will be a boon to all drivers, whether or four-wheeled or two wheelers, who will not be blocking or exasperating each other by getting in each other’s way. I wonder, though, if the lanes will be set up by the sides, or in the center of existing roads and highways. Anyway, I hear that implementation of the lane is now going on, and I hope it will mean a lot to all motorists and save them from spats and arguments on the road.

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What does “insertion” mean? Reports on the movement of the already delayed national budget say that the Senate deleted a P75 Billion item inserted by the Department of Budget and Management while its members were making amendments on it. Seems it was the eagle-eyed former general and now senator, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who had discovered the huge amount supposedly intended for the Department of Public Works and Highways. I could say “I told you so” because it had always been my suspicion that someone would sneak in a bit of pork into the much delayed budget, probably in the hope that, in the rush to approve it, nobody would notice. Thank God, somebody did.*

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