PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte was so pissed with the traffic once that he cussed the visiting Pope Francis whom he blamed for inconveniencing him and wished the Pope would go back to Rome.
With this mindset, the President should be more understanding if motorists and commuters in Metro Manila would shout: “P.I. mo Duterte. Puro drugs ang inaatupag mo. Napabayaan mong naging impyerno ang traffic. Bumalik ka nasa Davao.” (—- you, Duterte. You think only of drugs, you’ve neglected the hellish traffic. Go back to Davao.)
Sure, the citizenry is all for the eradication of the drug menace, but must the President have to put blinders on and ignoreother problems that diminish the quality of life? That the drug problem is great, this is conceded. However, must he wait until he has exterminated all drug users and pushers before focusing his attention on other urgent problems like the worsening traffic in the metropolis?
Many are disheartened by the President’s inveterate use of cuss words. A great majority, I’m sure, will cheer him on should he blurt out to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade: “P.I. moTugade, walakangnagawa. Balik ka nasapribadong sector.” (—- you, Tugade, you haven’t done anything. Go back to the private sector.)
Then, like US President-elect Donald Trump, he’ll add: “You are fired.”
If I remember correctly, Tugade promised in July that traffic in Metro Manila would improve within a month. Well, the traffic that was already considered one of the worst in the world, has even worsened under his watch as the supposed “traffic czar.” And he wants to be clothed with emergency powers under a bill that’s drawing fire at the House!
Billions of pesos in fuel and productive manhours are wasted and lost because of the traffic. A taxi ride from Kalayaan-Matino to the Araneta Center in Quezon City that used to take 20 minutes now takes more than an hour. Columnist RaymundJunia of “Opinyon” said he once spent an hour inside the tunnel at EDSA corner Ayala. Sure, there’s just too many cars for the limited road space but surely, measures can be devised to mitigate its effects, like pushing for mass transport, preferably operated by private corporations.
Imelda and metro traffic
For all her faults, former First Lady Imelda Marcos had the right idea on traffic management when she was governor of the Metro Manila Commission, the predecessor of the Metro Manila Development Authority. She identified the 11 busiest traffic routes and integrated their management under the Metro Manila Traffic Management Authority.
Emphasis was given to the “3 E’s” of traffic management: engineering, enforcement and education. New roads couldn’t be built; widening roads would be costly as it would affect existing buildings. The main focus of traffic engineering, therefore, was on traffic lights and flood control. The computerized synchronization of traffic lights from Maceda St. to P. Campa along Espana Blvd, Manila, minimized traffic stops and spurred mobility.
On traffic enforcement, Mrs. Marcos directed the hiring of recently discharged soldiers from the Mindanao campaign as traffic aides. These former soldiers demanded the obedience of motorists and pedestrians to traffic rules and regulations. The Constabulary Highway Patrol Group was harnessed to add muscle to traffic enforcement.
Oh yes, during that time, traffic aides were always in the middle of the street, unlike now where the enforcers are in hiding, waiting for motorists to commit violations. There were no complaints either of mulcting by the traffic aides hired by Mrs. Marcos.
And, what about now? Last Monday, Manila Mayor Erap Estrada fired all 690 traffic enforcers in the city because of mounting complaints of their extortion activities. I’m sure there are many mulcters in other areas but have remained untouched by their superiors.
Traffic education is an equally important component of improving mobility in the metropolis. This goes beyond knowing traffic rules and regulations. Obeying them, exercising discipline will go a long way in untangling snarls in intersections and in minimizing “trip-cutting” that often leads to accidents and even road rage.
Illegal gambling ignored?
President Duterte’s concentration on the campaign against illegal drugs has left out in the cold the drive against illegal gambling and their police protectors. Veteran police reporter Non Alquitran, a former colleague at the Philippine Star, wrote in his column “Supalpal” for Pang-Masa that several high-ranking police officers, including a classmate of PNP chief “Bato” dela Rosa at PMA Class 1986, are protecting gambling dens.
According to Alquitran, if Dela Rosa were to stop the members of PMA Class 1986 from collecting tong from gambling dens, members or protectors of drug syndicates inside the PNP would be quaking in their boots because this will give a strong signal that he’s dead serious about cleansing their ranks.
Then, there’s the illegal numbers game, or “jueteng,” that stays outside the radar of the Duterte administration. Jueteng operations are among the biggest sources of corruption of the police and local government officials. There have been bills filed by well-meaning lawmakers to legalize jueteng so some of its proceeds would go to the public coffers instead of to private pockets. Fortunately, or unfortunately, these bills never made any headway.
DU30 on consultants
The President is spot-on when he lambasted the Energy Regulatory Commission for hiring many consultants.
“Where’s the brain of these fools? Why do they need hundreds of consultants?” wondered Mr. Duterte who seldom consults with others, including his Cabinet members.
Incidentally, the proposed 2017 budget for professional services/consultants of the Office of the President is P2.1 billion, up by 2,661 percent from P78.9 million of the current fiscal year.