THE trust and approval of Filipinos for President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd dropped significantly in the March 2015 Ulat ng Bayan survey results of Pulse Asia.
Critics have pointed to the disastrous Mamasapano operation as the main culprit for the plunge.
But a motorist or everyday commuter who happens to have been interviewed by a Pulse Asia pollster during that survey period would probably not approve of the President’s lack of political will to solve the horrendous traffic situation either.
Indeed, the heavy traffic, infrastructure delays, and the other logistics issues under the Aquino administration could bring down the President’s satisfaction rating this year and next year, according to Action for Economic Reform (AER) Coordinator Filomeno S. Sta. Ana 3rd.
A newspaper report said Filipinos waste 28,000 hours in traffic gridlocks. Think of all the productive work hours lost, not to mention fuel expenditure, the noise and air pollution from vehicles idling in traffic, the delays in the movement of goods, the deleterious effects on public health from the pollution and the stress.
Time is money. Traffic causes delays in the arrival of workers and goods that affect production. Just look at the truck bans that contributed to the port-congestion problem, which led to substantial lost business revenues.
According to a study, the traffic-related problems of Metro Manila alone costs the country an estimated at $2.019 billion a year, or P277 million daily, in lost time of workers; and another $19 million, or P962 million, annually in hospitalization expenses and lost productive time due to illness.
And what is the President and his officials doing about the traffic problem? Certainly not enough.
Even the wang wang is back. The President’s anti-wang-wang policy was very prominent early in his term. He said all motorists should follow traffic laws and cooperate with traffic officers and allow them to carry out their duties. But now you always see so-called official vehicles bullying their way through traffic again, flouting traffic laws and yes, even using if not wangs-wangs or sirens then their police escorts to escape traffic gridlocks. Where is the daang matuwid or walang wang-wang policy now?
This administration is known for ningas-kugon, a Filipino term that refers to the habit of starting out a task with overwhelming enthusiasm but leaving it half-done or unfinished.
Just look at how many PPP projects have been finished. Look at the country’s infrastructure projects’ slow pace of implementation.
At the start of the Skyway extension project, for instance, there were so many traffic enforcers assigned to make traffic flow smoothly in the affected areas, and the alternative roads were cleared of obstructions.
But try passing through Quirino and Osmeña Highway nowadays and see that even on Sundays and during late in the evening traffic is still horrendous.
The alternative roads like Leon Guinto and Singalong and Vito Cruz are clogged with all kinds of obstructions like parked cars, hordes of pedicabs plying the areas, carinderias, makeshift basketball courts, mini palengkes on the street, barangay container van houses, sidewalk vendors, and what else have you.
They are all in plain sight of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority enforcers or other local officials and still nothing is being done about them.
Jeepneys as usual are stopping anywhere and everywhere to pick up and unload passengers, and the buses are operating pretty much like jeepneys—and traffic enforcers are just letting them do it.
Listen, Mr. President. It is not enough to say you are not corrupt.
“Noynoying” was a term used by activists before to signify your apathy and lack of action, or plain gross negligence and incompetence to do something about the country’s problems.
There has been a lot of this Noynoying on the traffic problem.
Is this where our taxes go?
The traffic problem is not a parochial concern, Mr. President, not at all.
Your approval ratings would rebound and even shoot through the roof if only you could untangle Metro Manila’s traffic gridlocks.
The culprits are well known: inadequate and poorly planned infrastructure, too many vehicles, poor enforcement of rules and regulations.
The solutions are clear and simple. It only takes political will.
Reduce the number of legally operating public utility vehicles. Shorten the franchise periods from 15 years to only five years. We can still see smoke-belching PUVs that have seen much better days still plying our roads. Retiring them is an alien concept, both for the LTFRB and among operators.
Infrastructure alone won’t solve our traffic problem. Besides, adding new roads is expensive. More than anything it’s about traffic management and transportation management.
We should also make public transportation more convenient so that people will easily ditch their cars.
It’s also about improving the planning and zoning system for residential and commercial property. For instance, building malls too close to the roads guarantees a massive convergence of vehicles that would choke traffic.
It’s also about the strict enforcement of rules and regulations.
It’s a combination of all these and more. Ultimately, it’s about the political will to enforce good urban planning.
Our traffic problem is so complicated because it involves several agencies of government and several local governments. It needs the authority of a President to solve it. But it can be solved. There are successful models to emulate.
Our traffic problem has vexed Metro Manila for the longest time and has choked economic activity. More than $3 billion a year is lost financially.
This is a problem that needs the President’s prompt and immediate action. If Mr. Aquino is content to just pass on this problem to his successor then we should not vote for his anointed one.