IN MARCH this year, when the government placed several provinces including Pampanga under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), I was lucky enough to be issued an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) travel pass. Driving through the highways was so pleasurable because there were only a few motorists on the road. I said to myself, "sana laging ganito sa karsada." Not anymore. It’s back to what it was before. Gridlocks, some undisciplined jeepney drivers and tricycles racing against sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and fast sedans. Motorbikes cruising and zigzagging as if on speedways.
Until today, there are so many suggestions and experiments on how to solve the traffic problem, and a particular concern is the one that beset the whole of Metro Manila. Today, the traffic problem is no longer a monopoly of Metropolitan Manila but also a serious concern of every city in the country, and even in small towns like Porac, Sta. Ana, Mexico.
There’s a newly built road that connects Barangay Del Rosario in the City of San Fernando that passes through barangays Calulut and Panipuan, Mexico and wind up to the NLEx Mexico toll plaza. What a great relief for motorists. But wait. How come this recently built road is already pockmarked and full of cracks? So obviously there was cheating and cutting corners done by the contractor. Give or take another year it will need massive repair.
An investigation is in order. Let’s protest. If I am not mistaken, there’s a 15-year guarantee of any government-funded infrastructure projects. That in the prosecution of the project visible tarpaulins enumerating who is the contractor, the amount of the contract, government agency in charge, date of start and completion are placed on strategic locations for everyone to see. And there’s a post-audit to be done by the Commission on Audit.
I remember there was even a time when there was a plan to give President Duterte an emergency power to solve the traffic mess in many urban centers. Everyone remembers when Duterte cursed the Holy Father from the Vatican when he recalled how he was caught in a long hour traffic jam. That’s trivial for a president. I also remember that Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said something like he can lick the problem in three months. Now he discovered that the problem is too complicated and huge that not even three years, a real solution can be found. May I venture a suggestion. Do away with the 50/50 law enforcement. Enforce traffic rules so strictly like what they implement in Subic and Clark Freeport.
Some 48 years ago then-president Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed martial law. Some good and bad things happened in the country. The worst was when there was a curtailment of civil liberties and many were thrown to jail without due process. Democracy died on September 21, 1972. The good thing was Filipinos can be disciplined and learned to obey even how males can sport their haircuts. Even rumor-mongering can get you imprisoned. Corrupt bureaucrats stopped having meals on five-star hotels and restaurants. So sad it only prevailed in the initial two years.