No wonder there was no urgency for the Aquino government to find solution to the horrendous traffic that Metro Manilans have to survive daily: they continue to think it’s an affirmation of their “good work.”
Aquino always brags that under his term, the Philippines experienced economic boom.
And proof of that economic boom, he said, is the traffic gridlock. Last year, he told the Filipino community in Spain: “When you come home and you’re caught in traffic, just remember that people are running errands, not just loitering around. That is a sign of economic growth.”
Last week, his anointed, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas echoed that line at the annual national convention of the Philippine Sugar Technologists Association Inc. (Philsutech) in Cebu.
"This is a problem in a sense that arises from prosperity. Because there is money. Because there is economic activity," Roxas said.
Roxas rattled off numbers: 260,000 vehicles were added on the road in 2014, a huge increase from the 60,000 vehicles a year 12 years ago when he was trade and industry secretary in the Gloria Arroyo administration.
This year, there will be 300,000 vehicles more on the road. The increase of the number of vehicles will continue in the coming years at the rate of 10 to 15 percent, he said.
Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania, where Roxas got his business education, should be proud of him. He can cite figures effortlessly.
Except implement a solution to the problem.
Does Roxas and for that matter Aquino and members of his Cabinet have an idea of the agony of commuters who have to endure hours lining up for a seat in a shuttle bus or hours standing in an overcrowded bus that doesn’t move along EDSA?
Last Saturday, the day after the “Bad Friday” when a number of air passengers missed their flights stuck in traffic along EDSA for five to eight hours, I left the house in Las Piñas at 2:30 pm for a 4:30 p.m. meeting in Greenbelt Makati. Usually, it takes about an hour with the bus taking the Skyway.
I arrived in Greenbelt 5:30 pm. The person I was meeting had left.
Last month, I met my relatives at the airport and brought them to St. Paul University in Quezon City. We left NAIA3 a little past 2 p.m. We arrived at St. Paul past 6 p.m.
I left St. Paul almost about 8:30 p.m thinking that by that time, traffic gridlock had eased up. I could not stay much later because I had to catch up with the shuttle bus going to Las Piñas that had its last trip at about 10 p.m.
I got to the shuttle bus Makati terminal before 10 p.m. and the line of waiting passengers was about a kilometer long in a snake-like formation. Very few shuttle buses were arriving because of the traffic jam.
Tired and weary, I called TAI taxi and fortunately there was one available in Makati. We plodded through the traffic but at least I was inside the vehicle. Got home past midnight.
I’m wondering, except for one occasion that Malacañang made a big deal of it, haven’t I read or heard the President and members of his Cabinet caught in the traffic for hours like you and me? Isn’t there supposedly “a no wang-wang” policy?
The “No wang-wang” is plain B.S. Prior coordination between the Presidential Security Group and MMDA allows the President to breeze through the traffic. No need for wang-wang.
Traffic jam in Metro Manila, which translates into losses of P2.4 billion daily according to a study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, is no progress at all.
It’s a sign of incompetent governance.
To say that it’s a sign of “booming economy” is an insult to the suffering public.
Jeman Bunyi Villanueva commented in Facebook on Roxas’ justification of the traffic burden: “I- boom kaya mukha niya?”
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.