Unable to get emergency powers from Congress, a miffed President Duterte said he was washing his hands of the traffic mess in Metro Manila, particularly EDSA.
This message, however, is unlikely to register with people who slog regularly through traffic in Metro Manila and neighboring cities. Blame for their daily ordeal will still be heaped on the government and its head, whether or not he wants to take a direct hand in untangling the mess.
So the President must ensure that his officials won’t drop the ball in traffic management. His legal team can also study possible measures that may be implemented merely through an executive order, which can accomplish some of what he intends to do using emergency powers.
He may need special powers to set aside procurement laws and speed up the award and implementation of infrastructure projects for traffic mitigation. Does he need emergency powers, however, to put an end to the so-called boundary system, under which bus and jeepney drivers are paid depending on the number of passengers they pick up? Even certain transport operators have pointed to this widespread practice as the reason why public utility drivers pick up passengers even in the middle of the street and linger for a long time at certain spots, blocking traffic.
The campaign of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority against illegal parking particularly on narrow streets in areas with high traffic density also deserves full support. Opening to the public certain roads in gated subdivisions will also ease traffic, especially with infrastructure projects simultaneously under construction in several parts of Metro Manila. Emergency powers may not be needed for this.
Merely increasing the presence of traffic management personnel can improve traffic flow – that is if they carry out their tasks efficiently and don’t accept “special fees” for allowing public utility vehicles to turn the streets into virtual PUV terminals. With the President washing his hands of Manila’s traffic mess, he must see to it that the agencies tasked to handle the problem will do their job.
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