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By: Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte considered it necessary to include the problem about road obstructions in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and other urban centers in the country in speaking about the state of the nation.

The Chief Executive cannot be more correct and accurate when he said that infrastructure projects of the government, specifically the construction of roads and bridges, will mean nothing if unnecessary obstructions, particularly illegally parked vehicles, will remain.

In his second State-of-the-Nation Address, President Duterte directed the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and concerned local government units throughout the country to clear the roads from obstructions.

The problem about road obstructions is not limited to Metro Manila and other urban centers. The same problem exists throughout the country.

Road obstructions outside urban centers do not cause vehicular traffic problem but they threaten the safety of both travelers and pedestrians.

The point of President Duterte about road constructions being useless if roads are not cleared of obstructions applies squarely to the road obstruction problem throughout the country – even in rural areas.

In Regions III and IV-A in particular, the government has been pursuing road-widening projects. After two-lane roads are widened into four-lane roads, the extra two lanes become instant “parking lanes” for vehicles.

It is also a common sight in many places that roads and bridges turn into parking spaces during nighttime. With cars and other vehicles now becoming more affordable, the vehicle owner’s need for parking spaces is easily addressed as public roads are deemed free parking areas.

The MMDA is filing complaints against barangay officials who fail to clear road obstructions. This is one strategy that should be followed throughout the country. Barangay officials and even mayors should be made responsible for clearing of road obstructions. Concerned local officials will only take this seriously if there is a clear “punishment” for irresponsibility and the mechanism for punishment will be strictly enforced.

The case in rural areas may not be same as those in urban areas, particularly on street parking being a source of additional income of barangays and cities, but all such cases cause other problems like traffic congestion and vehicular accidents.

The Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) should take the initiative of spreading President Duterte’s directive on road obstructions throughout the country. Local government units need to directed to bring order back in all Philippine roads and they need to be made answerable if they fail to do so.

Road obstructions, as they currently stand, has become an acceptable reality in our roads when clearly they should be unacceptable.