More on the malaise and 'malas' of Metro Manila 1

More on the malaise and 'malas' of Metro Manila

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Nov 04 2015 09:44 PM

Let me take a leave from the series we have devoted these past weeks to airing our Mega Manila concerns with some parting thoughts. For now, that is. Because it will not be goodbye. For sure.

More on the malaise and 'malas' of Metro Manila 2

It would indeed be desirable if the forthcoming Presidential campaigns would expose each of the candidate’s attitude and views on the matter. It is only appropriate that we hear from each one of them solutions to the nations’ most painfully challenging problem--Metro Manila.

The matter of decongestion, population dispersal/redistribution along with transportation system reform must be frontally addressed. Perhaps, each declaring one’s assessment of the depth of the problems and their particular approach to and preference for solutions, might yet reveal inadequacies or capacities for foresight and statesmanship.

It is therefore with bated breath that we hope the respective Presidential candidate’s campaign “issues” committee or study group will have by now enrolled “Saving Metro Manila” as a national issue that can no longer be swept under the rug. Saving Metro Manila must now be part of the national discourse.

READ: AFP faces 'Bayan o Sarili' moment: Saving Metro Manila


Hope springs eternal!

What if in our wildest dreams, all military camps in Metro Manila were relocated to far off new locations?

Wait, let me get back to this awhile. First, let me share with you a discovery I came upon rather serendipitously, courtesy of WAZE. You know, that Internet vehicular traffic navigation application (actually a variant of the Global Positioning System--GPS) that advises a driver to avoid a heavily congested route and directs a path through less travelled inner city streets.

Evading monstrous traffic jams along Manila’s main thoroughfares, Waze leads one to explore normally untraveled routes. Pathos for our fellow humans is simply inevitable. One is accosted by blighted neighborhoods every meter along these routes. The discovery has been so disconcerting and the realization crest-falling. Very much of Metro Manila is damn ugly! Ugly as hell! Nay, it is not the gates but the innards of hell! A super major social surgery and re-engineering is demanded lest the Philippine Republic’s capital region’s imminent further deterioration becomes an irreversible fact of Manila life!

Urban renewal, redevelopment and rehousing, gentrification will never happen without the physical space for it. Like a broken record, let me say once more, our military can jump-start the decongestion and population dispersal of Metro Manila as a survival maneuver for the metropolis.

Decongestion and an expertly planned population dispersal initiated by our Armed Forces will create space both for new thoroughfares, even recreational parks and venues for social housing for the qualified informal settler, meaning squatters that cannot be relocated because they are gainfully employed where they live and thus not qualified to be an out and out ward of the state. (The homeless destitute poorest of the poor partake of a totally different approach and aspect of social work. To be sure, there are solutions. Political will and ‘tough love’ are concepts that must be humanely summoned, but that is an altogether different reckoning. Hope springs eternal!)


Pasig and Marikina rivers are unutilized foundations for new infrastructure!

Speaking of new thoroughfares, there are cities in the world that for want of space have utilized the riparian bedrock of their winding urban rivers as foundations for viaducts that support highways and/or people mover-tramways. (If I recall correctly, former Director-General Cayetano “Dondon” Paderanga, Jr. of the National Economic and Development Authority--NEDA, cited for my edification as an example one such highway in Kyoto, Japan.) In the past, we have devoted a column to this out-of-the-box approach to new infra development.

And so, to reiterate, why not use east to west Pasig River and north to south Marikina River for the purpose. The sanitary and environmental health of such rivers may even be addressed more intelligently and effectively through the preparatory earthworks required to accommodate the infra development and mandatory maintenance of the finished project. Both the technology and world expertise exist.

Instead of quarrelling over congestion-inducing and creating reclamation ventures along Manila Bay, why not look into Pasig and Marikina. These natural resources are part of the national patrimony. Thus it is the national government that must address this prospect.

READ: Imagineering Metro Manila

READ: More Metro Manila meanderings


Political will in the exercise of government’s power of eminent domain combined with enlightened enforceable municipal ordinances might just be able to solve the problem of sidewalks and streets being converted into private parking by car-owning residents. Perhaps, a Municipal Parking Authority for every entity under Metropolitan Manila Development Authority--MMDA. This is an old recommendation contained in a Presidential communication more than 20 years ago.

Parking buildings that provide car space rentals in identified neighborhoods can become viable commercial enterprises. Since it is now an impossibility to require car buyers ownership or at least valid access to a parking space, the projected facility, implemented and administered properly could help ease some pain in the Metro areas.

For effect and efficiency, the retirement and pension fund of policemen ought to be invested in a business that is close to their hearts and pocketbooks!


Is a criminal syndicate running the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)?

Despite decades of serial public clamor and complaint, always answered with corresponding government promises to alleviate the disturbance they cause, bus terminals along EDSA Boulevard in the Cubao and Pasay areas continue to obstruct and infest this country’s only urban highway. The existence of these bus terminals in their present tightly overpopulated locations and the consequent massive congestion they cause comprise the most serious and visible impediment to the efficient traffic flow in Metro Manila.

In fact, EDSA is the focal point of WAZE, speaking as an international organization through its Global Driver Satisfaction Index, describing Metro Manila traffic as the worst on earth! The LTFRB is the consistent culprit. Should not Congressional busy bodies investigate LTFRB? In aid of legislation, of course.

The MMDA says it has no jurisdiction over the LTFRB. Why not call in the Marines, then. Seriously now, Malacanang might well consider deputizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be the problem-solving caretaker. Limited and well-defined military administration and management may not be a bad idea at all.

“Malas” is Filipino-speak for “mala suerte,” which in Spanish means “bad luck.” The bad luck of Metro Manila is caused by the “soft State,” a situation from which our country has not been able to extricate herself. The softness of our State is characterized by shortsighted politics (no vision goes beyond the next election), the absence of political will, the inability to apply “tough love,” soft on graft and tolerant of larceny, rent-seeking, bribe-giving and taking, entitlement and impunity.

Take the time to gaze into the mirror on the wall. Look for answers. The choice of a national leader in an election is a moral issue. Make the morals of a candidate an irreducible element of your choice.

Will the forthcoming presidential elections be another failed opportunity at exorcising the body politic? Help is on the way and we are part of it!

Comments and reactions are welcome:

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.