MANILA – The proposal of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman to expand the number-coding scheme in an effort to reduce the volume of vehicles plying EDSA and other major roads drew flak from a civic automobile group and netizens.
Gus Lagman, president of the Automobile Association of the Philippines, said instead of putting the burden on car owners, the MMDA should focus on implementing existing traffic rules and regulations.
“Siyempre masakit sa mga motorist ito. Masakit na nga ‘yung isang araw na hindi mo magamit ang sasakyan mo, magiging dalawa pa. Una, puno na naman ang ating MRT, so saan sila sasakay? Sana naman ang unahin muna nila ay enforcement [of traffic rules],” he told dzMM on Wednesday.
Lagman said banning vehicles on the roads twice a week is not the solution to heavy traffic jams.
He noted that motorists should not be punished for the traffic agency’s “failure” to implement road rules, particularly the continued existence of unregistered or “colorum” buses.
“Sundan lang nila ang traffic rules, i-enforce nila. Masama naman na dahil sa failure ng enforcement ay ang paparusahan ay mga motorista,” he said.
Lagman also said authorities should be firm in its campaign to weed out colorum buses and to rid EDSA of thousands of provincial buses.
Under the current number coding scheme, vehicles are banned from EDSA and other major Metro Manila roads from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m, depending on the last digit on their license plates.
Vehicles with plate numbers ending in 1 or 2 are barred on Monday; 3 and 4 on Tuesdays; 5 and 6 on Wednesdays; 7 and 8 on Thursdays; and 9 and 0 on Fridays.
The new proposal from MMDA chief Francis Tolentino seeks to bar four numbers instead of two per day.
Plate numbers ending in 1, 2, 3, 4 would be barred on Monday; 5, 6, 7, 8 on Tuesdays; 9, 0, 1, 2 on Wednesdays; 3, 4, 5, 6 on Thursdays; and 7, 8, 9 and 0 on Fridays.
More days, more vehicles
Lagman believes the new proposal will not be effective in keeping more vehicles off the roads, and may instead invite an increase in volume of vehicles.
He said several commercial firms involved in delivery services have already expressed opposition to the proposed scheme because it may force them to purchase more vehicles to add to their fleet.
“May nakausap ako na nagpapatakbo siya ng delivery service. Ang impact daw sa kanila [ng number coding] ay at least 25%. In other words, kung mayroon siyang 100 na sasakyan, eh ‘yung 20 niya ay hindi makakatakbo sa isang araw. So kailangan bumili sila ng 20 pa. Ngayon, kung magiging 2 araw na [ang coding], ‘yung 40 niya hindi makakatakbo. So kailangan na naman niya bumili ng 20 pa para ma-fulfill ‘yung mga serbisyo niyang pinapangako,” shared Lagman.
He also expressed dismay that they were not consulted about the proposed scheme.
“Mayroon naming silang kinukumbida [sa public hearing] pero as far as I know, wala kaming imbitasyon,” he said.
Tolentino, meanwhile, said the proposal will still be discussed and decided upon by the Metro Manila mayors.
Netizens took to social media sites to voice out their disapproval of the proposed 2-day number coding scheme, with several Twitter users calling it a “band-aid solution.”
Some users urged the MMDA to instead improve the public transportation system in Metro Manila to encourage motorists to take the bus or the train instead of using their vehicles.