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Metro traffic remains a big problem

JUST when the traffic situation seemed to be improving in one part of Metro Manila, it would get jammed elsewhere in the metropolis. At one time, flooded streets around the Manila City Hall caused south-bound traffic to back up as far back as España Blvd. in Sampaloc. That appears to have been solved by repairs on drainage channels. Last Monday, traffic was again jammed all around Quiapo and surrounding areas. This time, motorists blamed construction work on Quiapo bridge, where a layer of asphalt was being laid on one lane.

Monday also saw clearing operations on Raon St. in Quiapo. Over 400 vehicles were removed along with makeshift stalls and pushcarts that had been blocking the street. The city government had earlier cleared Blumentritt and Rizal Ave.
in Sta. Cruz district, Divisoria in Tondo, Juan Luna and Sta. Elena in Binondo. The Metro Manila Development Authority has also been conducting its own clearing operations. It noted that in some areas, some barangay officials tried to stop them from towing illegally parked vehicles.

We are now seeing the efforts of local officials trying to clear the roads in their respective areas. We have yet to see the overall traffic plan promised by the Department of Transportation. That may take some time, as it apparently needs special powers sought by the national government from Congress with regards to right of way, franchises, and permits from national government agencies, notably the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Today, the focus of attention of the national government is on the drugs problem, with scores of mayors, congressmen, judges, and police officers named by President Duterte as alleged protectors of drug syndicates. This was indeed the center of the election campaign of President Duterte who promised to stop drug operations in the country in three to six months. At the rate he is going, he may yet meet his self-imposed deadline.

But we have not forgotten the other problems that he also promised to attend to, not quite as urgent perhaps as drugs, but as important to the national life as well as to the lives of many Filipinos, such as the need for greater food security, more employment, more homes and more schoolrooms, and greater peace and stability in Mindanao.

So many problems are calling for solutions but we hope the transportation and traffic problem will get its share of attention, because of its huge economic impact on Philippines business in general, and because of the thousands of problems it causes ordinary people trying to get to work on time, unable to spend more time with their families.

The Senate has begun its hearings on proposed emergency powers for President Duterte. Congress is likely to grant the needed powers, after which the administration will bare the details of the overall transportation and traffic plan and start carrying it out. We hope it will be soon.