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Culture change

Solving the traffic problem in Metro Manila, especially in EDSA is undoubtedly a tough job. While we should commend the current leadership of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for the various initiatives to solve the problem, we also need to point out that the agency and other concerned government agencies also need a serious follow through of previous initiatives and a strict implementation of traffic rules and regulations as well as other applicable laws.

The proposal for a modified odd-even scheme earned a lot of negative criticisms. Such is expected because the proposal requires motorists to bear additional sacrifice. While solving the problem really requires actions and sacrifices from both the government and the public, the government needs to show that the public’s sacrifice is needed in addition to its effective implementation of laws, rules and regulations. Many are expected to resist additional sacrifices when the government is perceived to be ineffective in doing its role.

The current “drive” of the MMDA and the Manila City government to clear the streets of illegally parked vehicles and other traffic obstructions is an example of the “ineffectiveness” of the government.

Enforcing rules and regulations on parking and road use should be a regular function of the government. As things currently stand, towing of illegally parked vehicles and dismantling of obstructions like sidewalk vendors are done only when vehicular traffic is expected to be heavier than usual (like during the Christmas season) or when there are triggers like the strongly criticized modified odd-even scheme.

Following traffic and road rules, regulations and laws should be the “sacrifice” that the government should make the public to bear – and this means that enforcement of these rules, regulations and laws should be applied to all and should be done consistently and not “occasionally.”

It does not make sense to keep on adding rules, regulations and laws and to come up with new initiatives and schemes if the government remains weak, at best, in implementing programs and enforcing laws. Enforcement of laws is not an ad-hoc function of the government.

Given the current state of affairs in our roads, not only in Metro Manila and other key cities but also in rural areas, the government needs to effect a culture change – from a culture of wanton disregard to a culture of obeying laws, rules and regulations. (Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)