MANILA - Filipinos returning to the provinces for Christmas have started to arrive at different ports in the country Friday while motorists braced for traffic gridlocks.
In Metro Manila, 182 traffic enforcers were deployed to assist commuters in bus stations and motorists plying EDSA and major thoroughfares.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) earlier warned motorists of the expected heavy traffic this Friday.
"Last Friday na po ito ng holiday season. Nasa labas na po lahat ng tao niyan, 'yung mga huling hirit na shopping, Christmas party," MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said.
(This is the last Friday of the holiday season. Everyone will be out doing their last-minute shopping, Christmas party.)
Traffic flow along EDSA on Friday's afternoon rush hour could slow down to 12 kilometers per hour from the typical 19 kph, the MMDA said.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) meanwhile has started inspecting major bus terminals to check the condition of buses and their drivers.
The number of bus trips this Christmas are expected to go up by 26 percent according to the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), which reiterated safety measures for traveling.
“More vehicles on the road, more people in the streets, mas maraming (more) accidents,” PNP-HPG director Chief Supt. Roberto Fajardo Jr. said.
In Pasay City alone, at least 3,000 passengers are expected to arrive at different bus stations, authorities said.
Aside from bus terminals, passengers have also begun flocking seaports.
At the Batangas port for instance, authorities have implemented tighter security measures, with K9 units checking the bags of passengers.
Help desks are also found at the terminals to assist passengers when necessary.
The Philippine Coast Guard on Thursday night reported a total of 71,008 passengers in seaports across the country. The figure is expected to go up Friday.
- reports from Raya Capulong, Maan Macapagal, Arra Perez, and Fay Virrey, ABS-CBN News