The chief of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group on Tuesday blamed motorists and commuters for not heeding earlier advisories for them to stay home to avoid the traffic jam on the week of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit.
”They were stuck in traffic because they did not heed the traffic advisor[ies]. Our personnel, along with MMDA [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority] enforcers assisted motorists, for them to take alternate routes,” Chief Supt Arnold Gunnacao, director of the PNP-HPG, said.
He added there will be no change in traffic plans and reminded motorists to expect heavy traffic until Friday, urging them at the same time to plan their trips and take the designated alternate routes.
”We don’t expect any changes in traffic plans until Friday so expect this kind of traffic congestion,” Gunnacao explained.
Since some major roads along the cities of Pasay, Makati and Manila will be closed, he advised motorists to take the alternate routes such as C-5 and some secondary roads for them to reach their destinations.
Authorities also on Tuesday appealed for the public’s understanding over the traffic congestion caused by road closures in Metro Manila.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the road closures and traffic rerouting are necessary to ensure security for the APEC visitors and decongest routes between venues.
“We’re asking for forgiveness and for people to understand the security measures being implemented,” he said in Filipino. “We hope people would understand the importance of these meetings that would be beneficial to our future.”
The PNP through its spokesman was also apologetic.
“On behalf of APEC 2015 security and organizers, we apologize and ask for the public’s understanding over the inconvenience they [the public]are experiencing,” Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said in Filipino during the APEC Security Task Force news briefing.
Mayor made the remarks as some passengers from Cavite and southern Metro Manila had to walk along Roxas Boulevard from the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) to Baclaran in Paranaque City to get to their offices in Manila and Makati City on Monday.
Both lanes of Roxas Boulevard from Katigbak Drive to NAIA Road will remain closed until Friday for the APEC summit.
“Security protocol states vehicular traffic must stop to give way to the delegates of the summit. They [APEC delegates] have their own security protocols … they are used to a certain amount of security and leniency and flexibility. This is why if you don’t really have to do anything absolutely urgent in these areas, then please don’t go. Though some streets will remain open, there will be road closures whenever there is a movement of delegates,” Gunnacao said.
APEC lanes are designated for the summit’s delegates along EDSA.
When a VIP passes through, however, there will be absolute closures, Gunnacao told reporters.
Such total road closures will last from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, he said.
The PNP has opened a public assistance hotline starting Tuesday.
The public can call the numbers 09497260082 and 09062163615 for valid concerns such as suspicious activity or persons that could threaten the security of the event.
Mayor asked the public to use the hotline properly.
”We appeal to the public to report only those matters which are valid as every act of our ground commanders is important for the summit’s security,” he explained.
”Valid complaints include suspicious activity [of]persons… anything that would be detrimental to our operations. If it’s a matter of security concern, the public can call our hotline and cooperate with us to carry out the necessary security action,” Mayor said.
Special bus permits
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has issued special permits to bus companies, allowing them to field additional buses for those going to the provinces this APEC week.
Out of 546 buses that applied for special permits, the agency approved 352, LTFRB board member Ariel Inton said.
The special permit is valid from November 17 to 22.
After the summit, the buses will go back plying the original routes as indicated in their franchise.