One thing good with our Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama is that he is highly positive when it comes to the things he wants to do. Even if his Singapore-like dream for Cebu City is fading away from realization, he still has high hopes that half a million Russian tourists will visit Cebu this Christmas and the Sinulog in January 2024.
But is the city ready and prepared to receive the 500,000 tourists from Russia, probably all coming from Cebu City’s sister-city Vladivostok? A bad or worse traffic management in any local government is tourism’s anathema. Being stuck in the middle of the road due to a traffic gridlock is not what tourists want.
I learned from one of the operators of a van-for-hire for tourists that their business is not doing good these days because, according to him (name withheld), tourists are shying away from Metro Cebu, and Cebu City in particular, because of the heavy traffic in the metropolis. This is aside from the problem of flooding during downpours.
If plans do push through and tourists from Vladivostok will arrive in December and January next year in time for the Sinulog, I do not think these tourists will be excited to experience the city’s “bad” traffic management, not to mention the many undisciplined motorists.
Mayor Mike and his advisers should set their priorities first before jumping into undertakings like tourism where tourists’ impressions of the city would be lasting instead of mouthing profanities at the situation. Improving the traffic system and clearing the streets of obstructions are imperative, as well as environmental sanitation.
It is about time Cebu City install modern traffic lights in all intersections, particularly in the busiest areas, since manual traffic direction by traffic enforcers is intermittent and good only up to 6 p.m. On weekends, traffic enforcers are seldom on duty at busy intersections.
With digitalized traffic lights in all intersections, traffic enforcers will concentrate on the apprehension of traffic violators. One blatant traffic violation is habal-habal drivers’ driving against the flow of traffic, or counter-flowing as the Cebu City Transportation Office puts it, that remains unchecked.
Talking of priorities brings me to the request of the Office of the President for a P1 billion budget for the President’s international travels, while the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) needs immediate attention and funds for the purchase of more boats and additional personnel that will patrol the West Philippine Sea, which is under threat by China’s claim over our exclusive economic zone (EEZ). It’s simply repulsive.
All that this administration has for all the transgressions China has made is file protests, which China has ignored. Indonesia and Vietnam are better equipped than us when it comes to sea patrol. Our country looks like the whipping boy of giant China. China cannot do to Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan what it has been doing to our country in our EEZ in the West Philippine Sea.
The P1 billion budget for travel could be well spent improving the services of the Navy and the PCG. Our government should not rely so much on dole-outs from our allied countries to properly equip our Coast Guard.
Another questionable allocation is the P150 million confidential and intelligence fund for the Department of Education. Critics have questioned the legitimacy of the purpose since intelligence funds, by its nature, is not subject to scrutiny by the Commission on Audit as to how it is spent.
The current problem that our nation faces boils down to one thing: lack of priorities.