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Competent traffic managers, not emergency powers, needed to solve traffic woes

September 14, 2019

AL S. VITANGCOL III

PRESIDENT Duterte did not hide his irritation at Congress’ withholding the grant of emergency powers supposedly requested on his behalf by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. The President, responding to a question posed by a media reporter, lamented: “‘Yon ‘yung sinasabi ng mga first days ko sa mayorship ko dito. Na ‘yung EDSA, inaano na, na it could require huge resources, at hindi madali makunan, because kung idaan mo sa normal procedures, at hindi naman kaagad maprocess, it takes months… (That was what was being said during the first days of my mayorship here. That EDSA, in its current state, could require huge resources, and it cannot be done, because if you go through the normal procedures, it will not be processed immediately, it takes months…).”

Duterte confirmed that he did not ask for emergency powers. He said, “Ako, hindi ako nanghingi, sabi ko lang bahala sila Tugade…” (I did not ask for it, I said it was up to Tugade…). In spite of this, he chided Sen. Mary Grace Poe, though not naming her directly, in this manner: “May isang lady senator, nag ano na kaagad ‘yan, ah hindi, mahirap ito, we cannot trust this, corruption, malaking pera ito…” (There is one lady senator, she readily reacted that it is hard and we cannot trust this, corruption, huge amount of money is involved…)

Duterte finally gave up, “Huwag na lang… (No more…) I cannot clear EDSA during my remaining term… Narinig ninyo naman ‘yang gaga na ‘yan. (You heard that stupid woman.)”

I am neither a supporter nor a believer of Senator Poe. But on this issue, I just might agree with her. What is needed to solve the traffic woes of the metropolis is not emergency powers but competent traffic managers.

Look at the City of Manila. Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso cleared the major streets of traffic obstructions, resulting in smoother traffic flows and shorter travel times. Was he ever given emergency powers? No. He clearly has the political will and probably capable people around him to solve these decades-old traffic problems.

Had the Department of Transportation acted swiftly in the way that Mayor Isko did, then traffic congestion might have been eased.

Drastic times, drastic measures

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” This expression is believed to have originated from a saying coined by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. Well, these are desperate times. There seems to be no end to the driving tribulations, not only of the metropolis, but of other urbanized areas as well.

Do we really need desperate measures? No, we don’t. We simply need to implement existing traffic laws and regulations.

Do we need emergency powers to solve the traffic mess? I don’t think so. What is needed is political will and knowledgeable authorities.

Just implement traffic laws

Let us look at some concrete issues here, seemingly small things but that definitely create traffic chaos following the principle of the “ripple effect.” A ripple effect is the continuing, pervasive and spreading results of a usually unintentional event or action.

One of the elements affecting the flow of traffic is the number of lanes in the road. If there is a sudden constriction, or reduction of lanes, traffic congestion and slowdown will result. At Sen. Gil Puyat Extension in Pasay City, right after the intersection of Roxas Boulevard, one lane is barricaded and blocked off for the exclusive use of JAC Liner. That bus company had appropriated a public space for its own use resulting in traffic chaos in that area. I am sure this is known to the police and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforcers. How come they are not removing this barricade? The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board should look into this and penalize this bus line.

Counterflowing causes accidents and generates heavy traffic. Counterflowing is illegal, no matter what motor vehicle is involved. How come tricycles, pedicabs and motorcycles are counterflowing in the northbound lane of EDSA (from Magallanes, Makati to Taft Avenue, Pasay) and the MMDA traffic enforcers and policemen are oblivious of it? Is it because money talks or are they naturally incompetent?

Parking on the roadway is obstruction and is punishable by traffic laws. Remember the viral video of the 15-minute lady prosecutor? Selective implementation of this law guilelessly leads to more blatant violations. Pass by Radial Road 8, from the Quiapo area to Philippine Postal Corp. in Plaza Lawton, before reaching Mehan Garden, for sure there will be Kersteen and HM Transport buses parked on the roadway. A stone’s throw away is a police community precinct. Why are these buses allowed to use a public road as its temporary terminal? The police and the MMDA should be directed to explain this. Remember, ripple effect.

Apprehend non-emergency siren-using vehicles

Emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and firetrucks, need sirens to make loud warning noises, which signal to the other drivers to give way to an emergency situation. Fine.

How about for those vehicles transporting those who are in power, those who have powers, and those who are power trippers? Their drivers and passengers should be apprehended, detained, and their expensive vehicles impounded. The use of sirens and similar gadgets for non-emergency vehicles is forbidden. Why can’t they be stopped? Even the police are in cahoots with these “entitled” people. The Philippine National Police even provides motorcycle-riding cops to escort these “chosen children of God.”

While the rest of us ordinary mortals are stuck in traffic, these “son-of-a-gun” people are parting the motorists like the Red Sea — of course, to the detriment of those of us without police escorts or loud sirens.

On September 11, at around four in the afternoon, I was driving along United Nations Avenue in Manila and was stopped upon reaching the traffic lights at the corner of Roxas Boulevard (near the United States Embassy). A black sports utility vehicle (no conduction sticker), with front plate number JUN22A and rear plate number MCX 3888, was racing on the westbound lane of Roxas Boulevard. It was being escorted by a motorcycle cop with sirens blaring.

Why is this happening? Why is this permitted in the first place? Are the MMDA and PNP officers blind to these?

In the end, the traffic situation will improve if these small things are corrected. Remember the ripple effect.

The President might not have been properly apprised of the real scenario. If the President is not given what he wanted, it is not actually against him. It is against the incompetents surrounding him.

Let me reiterate that we don’t need emergency powers to solve the transport crisis. What we need are competent traffic managers and problem solvers.

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