A Manila Standard
During the Marcos years, a postmaster-general made a name for himself by hiring deaf-mutes to work as mail sorters and checkers on the assumption that, unlike other employees at the post office, they would waste no time gossiping.

This week, we were reminded of this kind of out-of-the-box thinking when the Metro Manila Development Authority suggested that bus companies be made to hire female drivers on the assumption that they are less aggressive than men and therefore less likely to get into accidents.

In a radio interview, the agency's chairman, Francis Tolentino, pointed to studies here and abroad that showed that women drove more safely than men, and that male drivers were more prone to drunk driving and road accidents.

Females, on the other hand, were more disciplined, he said. Unlike their aggressive male counterparts, females preferred to avoid risks in driving and were unlikely to race against each other. The net result, he added, might be a slower but safer ride for all.

The proposal to tap female drivers comes on the heels of last month's accident in which a retired judge and his wife were killed by a speeding Corimba Transit bus on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City as they driving out of their subdivision.

The only thing the bus driver could say in his own defense was that he had been blowing his horn continuously to warn vehicles coming out of the subdivision that he was approaching fast.

For Metro Manila motorists and commuters alike, the incident perfectly exemplified how reckless bus drivers have made the city streets unsafe.

Many of us would have no problem with the notion of replacing today's army of boorish, belligerent and undisciplined bus drivers with a kinder and gentle group of female drivers.

On the other hand, it is unfortunate that we must resort to novel solutions to fix a simple problem of discipline. Bus drivers, regardless of their sex, ought to be trained to drive in a civilized and safe manner and must be disciplined the moment they step out of line.

But a recent remark by Senator Francis Pangilinann is a telling indictment of the kind of society we have become and the failure of our leaders to instill discipline, both at the national and local levels.

Speaking on a campaign to amend the Constitution, the senator said Charter change was not "a magic wand or a wonder drug" that would cure the country's ills. He called instead for the full enforcement of existing laws.

"If we cannot implement our existing laws in full, what makes us think that we will be able to implement the laws in full under a new Constitution?" he said.

Novel approaches in the long run as people without discipline and the political will to impose them.

(Originally published in Manila Standard, January 12, 2011)

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