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The Trouble with “What If?”

Red tape in government can never be eradicated as long as people who run it continue to be blinded by the sphere of paradigm that influence them.

Government policies and regulations formulated by over-protective and over-acting officials in the past are carried over at present, which are anchored almost always on the premise that fraud can or may be committed. In order to prevent it from happening, additional safeguards are crafted and introduced as imperative airtight solutions. Layers of precautionary measures then are put in place to purportedly deter this “what if fraud is committed” scenario from happening.

This hypothesis that has long been embraced by government offices is now a norm—a practice you see anywhere you go even in private enterprises. They formulate the same myriad of “preventive measures” for such a paradoxical and perhaps whimsical act despite the probability of which from occurring is practically nil—this is the culprit why the public suffers unnecessary delays in transacting business with the government.

These redundant and expendable government requirements are absurdly conceived just to satisfy the habitual fear and concern of a possible spurious act resulted in today’s very frustrating and baffling policies of the government. The ambiguous bureaucracy they set up is outright unreasonable and dumb— indeed an inconvenience. The “what if” argument that leads to these added supernumerary layers of qualification prerequisite being imposed on a presumably simple transaction has become out of proportion and itself an epidemic.

Let me cite some examples:

When one buys a used car, a separate and duly notarized affidavit executed by the new owner, which supposedly re-certifies the car’s documents—the Deed of Sale (which is already duly notarized before hand) and the CR and OR (which the registering office generate in the first place) are legitimate is now a mandatory requirement! This added layer of security is demanded supposedly to satisfy the “what if the documents are fake” in a hypothetical scenario that the car is stolen as well. This is a product of excessive and unreasonable imagination, which is ad nauseam.

By the same token, before a used car can be registered to the new owner a “lab test” is also mandatory at the Hi-way Patrol Group (HPG). This is to ensure apparently that a used car is again, not stolen. Well and good! Statistics show, however, that out of more than 800,000 total used cars sold each year, only about 326 are stolen, representing a miniscule .0004% of the total annual sales. 85% of those (277) are recovered with only 48.9 cars still unrecovered. Why then would the HPG subject the rest of the 799,674 used car buyers to this pointless “lab test” when it is their job to go out of their office and apprehend these measly remaining 48.9 “hot cars” instead!

Additionally, there are 4.7M registered motor vehicles in the country. LTO requires all of them to have their Vin and Engine numbers stenciled each time they register. Again, this is supposedly done to ensure that these are not “hot cars.”

In another Government Agency, when one applies for permit of a minor travelling overseas unaccompanied by neither parents, but with adult relative armed with Special Power of Attorney (SPA) executed by the child’s parents, the accompanying adult relative is painstakingly interviewed and asked about twenty pre-printed questions, most of them idiotically irrelevant like, “do you have a wife or husband?” (What’s the logic of this question since the adult relative is just accompanying the child anyway?). If one answers in the affirmative, the next question is, “are you married?” (Isn’t it evident that when one has a wife or a husband he or she is presumed married, right?). But then they still ask this ridiculous question). Next is “what is your highest educational attainment? (Is the travelling companion applying for a job?). When queried with these outrageous questions, they emphatically reason out with the same “What if” hypothesis—what if you are not what they think you are? hahaha!

Meanwhile at NAIA Terminal 1, a checkpoint is setup manned by uniformed Security Guards. All cars are flagged down before being allowed to pass through the entrance road leading to the airport parking and to the arrival and departure areas. If you are flying out and queued in the departure lane, the Security Guard will ask for the RT-PCR or Antigen Negative Test result. You won’t be allowed to pass unfortunately until you secure one. When you are about to enter the airport building, another Security Guard will ask you again for the same test result along with the airline ticket before finally being allowed entry.

The Covid-19 test result is a requirement mandated by IATF when checking in only at the airline counter not as a pass or a permit to enter the airport vicinity. The Guards have nothing to do with the medical records of passengers (most of them don’t even know what the RT-PCR acronym stands for). They are charged to just look after and secure the peace and order of the airport, but then again they counter with “what if?”—WTF!

In hindsight, the pretext is always that an imaginary hideous scheme by the same imaginary lunatic lawbreaker is impending—the raison d’etre for these imposed overkill requirements. This is now literally the mantra and has become a seemingly part of our government culture.

We will be drifting into this imbecility for more years to come. The government agencies have to realize that overextending their responsibility by fantasizing alarming situations in the design of their policies is doing the public disservice and injustice.

The “what if” presumption is omnipotent, but where is the common sense of all this?

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