THE construction of the underpass in Mambaling has worsened what was already a terrible traffic situation in the vicinity. What is ironic is that the project was supposed to precisely address that same problem of traffic congestion. However, the failure of the highways department to institute the mitigating measures that then mayor Michael Rama demanded as early as six years ago has wrought more havoc than necessary.
Now that they have already started it, they might as well finish it. The suffering public can perhaps find consolation in the thought that, in life, some things have to get worse before they can get better. The focus therefore should be on how to hasten the project’s completion and shorten the public’s agony.
It would be foolish to stop the project now. Procrastination is our greatest bane here as it has been in many other government endeavors. Take the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, for example. How long has it been since the BRT was first proposed? Twenty years ago? And just when it was ready to take off, some people, mostly enemies of Mayor Tomas Osmeña (he has many, unfortunately), want it aborted.
Osmeña said he will stop the Mambaling underpass if the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will widen the side streets. Some people are asking that he does that but why should he? As in the case of the BRT and the light rail transit (LRT), the underpass and the widened side roads are not mutually exclusive. Can you imagine how comfortable driving through Mambaling will be if you can choose to use the surface highway or underneath it or beside it?
As for the BRT and the LRT, why should the former be scrapped altogether just because someone says the latter is a better mass transport system? At this stage, anything that can alleviate our traffic woes is worth trying. And the BRT isn’t just “anything”; it has been thoroughly studied and extensively discussed and debated upon. Certainly, the government agencies that reviewed the project and recommended that it be funded not only during the Aquino but also during the Duterte administration were not run by idiots.
We cannot cancel the project now and lay to waste those years of study just because another team of experts is saying that the BRT will be a disaster and that the LRT is a better idea. Let the BRT run while they conduct a study on the merits of the LRT and abandon it only if and when it does prove to be a disaster, not before that. If we continue arguing over which system is better, we will never be able to achieve anything.
Glory, indeed, is transitory. Who could have imagined that Vitaliano Aguirre II would be given the boot by President Duterte? Until his resignation was accepted by Duterte, the justice secretary was one of the most powerful men in the country. And he served the president well, running after Duterte’s critics, notably Sen. Leila de Lima, who is now languishing in jail on drugs charges based mainly on the testimony of convicted criminals.
Aguirre’s only previous claim to fame that I know of was when he covered his ears during the Corona impeachment trial for which he got a thorough scolding from the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Now, he will go down in history as the one whose fall from glory was as swift as his rise to fame.