Terrible Cebu City traffic

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


UNITED States President Barack Obama was less candid to us in his pronouncements during his two-day visit here, particularly on our territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

Obama, in his earlier visit to Japan, pledged to support that country in its claim over islands in the East China Sea that China is also claiming. But he did not say the same with regards to our territorial dispute with China in his meeting with President Noynoy Aquino.

In reassuring us about our ties, Obama merely referred to the US-Philippines treaty.

He said, "This treaty means that our two nations pledge, and I am quoting, ‘(their) common determination to defend themselves from external armed attacks. And no potential aggressor can be under the illusion that either of them stands alone.’”

“In other words, our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad. The United States will keep that commitment because allies will never stand alone," Obama added.

What we were expecting from Obama was a categorical statement that the US will provide military support to the country if China uses military power in taking the contested islands. But that didn’t come out from Obama’s mouth.

The position of Obama is understandable, though. He does not want to offend China, the second biggest economy in the world, by whispering sweet nothings to the Philippine government.

An analyst has a different view on the US-Philippine treaty. “Relations with China will deteriorate further in the context of maritime disputes. China is averse to any Philippine government initiative to involve the US in its security agenda," said Rommel Banlaoi, of the Center for Intelligence and National Security in Manila.

But what caught my attention most was the protest-rally staged by anti-US groups. They burned the US flag and effigies of Obama and Aquino. But did we hear them howl over the attempt by a Chinese navy ship to block the Philippine boat bringing food and supplies to some members of the Philippine Marines in the contested islands? Huge silence!

***

Traffic in Cebu City has gotten worse. Driving from home to office or to work has become stressful and the trip is getting longer. Traffic congestion is aggravated by undisciplined drivers of public utility vehicles and habal-habal.

Illegal economic activities on the side of streets and sidewalks have further narrowed the roads and restricted the movements of motor vehicles. This is not to mention the presence of trisikads there.

If I were to rate Citom, the city’s traffic enforcement arm, it is a failure. With due respect to our friends, Citom has failed to enforce to the letter the city’s traffic ordinances as well as traffic laws, rules and regulations.

The most common violation is illegal parking. Motor vehicles, including police cars or private cars owned by police officers, are parked in “No Parking” areas. I have yet to see Citom personnel clamp or tow these vehicles.

Sidewalks in the interior roads are used as extension of eateries. Tables and chairs are set up there. Vulcanizing or tire repair is done on the side of the road causing traffic slowdown.

Critics and even some friends of Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama blame him for his lackadaisical attitude in enforcing city traffic ordinances. I think it was during his first term that he ordered Citom to stop the clamping of the wheels of illegally parked vehicles.

One of Mayor Rama’s programs is to widen the sidewalks to conform with US or European standards and provide commuters with better and wider sidewalk.

But I wonder if the city mayor is aware that most, if not all, of the city’s sidewalks have been utilized by all types of vendors as their shops.

So, what’s up your sleeves mayor? You can’t manage the city by just singing your blues.

(atty.ellieE@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 01, 2014.

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