WE HAVE a traffic crisis in Cebu and it is not because Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia had to leave her car and walk to the Capitol so she won’t miss the flag ceremony last Monday. But it was providential that it happened to the governor even if only on one morning what we had to go through on a daily basis when commuting from Fuente Osmeña to the Capitol. Now, many have taken notice.
There was a time when traffic in the area was not that bad because of the barangay tanods who helped direct the flow of vehicles. But I have not seen them since after the May elections, leaving every driver to his own devices or to put it more accurately, to his skill in outwitting the other drivers.
I read last week that Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes has announced the creation of a traffic department and the concomitant hiring of 300 more traffic personnel to augment their current force of 200. That is a good idea and I hope that Cebu City will consider moving in the same direction.
I know. Hiring more traffic enforcers is a palliative but until such time that we can have a more comprehensive solution, what choice have we got other than to address the matter of undisciplined drivers as a factor in traffic buildups? The Capitol barangay tanods did a creditable job of imposing discipline on the road. Trained traffic enforcers should be able to do better.
Incidentally, the Provincial Board can do more than just declare a traffic crisis. They should pressure both houses of Congress to pass the law granting the President emergency powers to solve the traffic problem and to include Cebu in the coverage.
In late 2016, OPAV Mike Dino, who was our guest speaker in the Walk and Talk induction ceremony, disclosed that he was lobbying for the inclusion because it meant speeding up the bidding and implementation of projects addressing Cebu’s mass transport and traffic problems.
Unfortunately, the bill, although approved in the House, failed to pass muster in the Senate. It has since been refiled but I’m not sure if the amendment that the OPAV sought has been incorporated. Here, the Board can be of immense help by convincing Congress that the traffic situation in Cebu is just as bad as in Manila and that they should pass the traffic emergency law immediately as we no longer have the luxury of time.
The governor can make the courtship of Congress even easier because not only is her brother, Pablo John a deputy speaker, she also held that same position in the previous Congress. If the law is passed, it will be a major talking point in her next State of the Province Address.
Speaking of the address, Garcia’s report last Saturday was unique because of her extensive use of the audio-visual medium in reporting what she had done during the first 100 days (and nights, according to PJ) of her fourth term as governor. I remember her saying during her first term that she wanted to hit the ground running. It seems to me that she planned on sprinting this time.
But even if it was her birthday, the night belonged to her father as well. I think that at some point, Noy Pabling, who also served as governor for three terms, stole the scene. But for the fact that he sat on a wheelchair, he was no different from the Pablo Garcia I always tried to watch in court when I was a young lawyer. At 94, he is still as sharp as he was when I saw him for the first time arguing an adultery case involving members of prominent Cebu families before the late Judge Jose Ramolete. And that was 46 years ago.