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Clear our streets

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

The issue about illegally parked vehicles and other obstructions along streets and sidewalks is happening not only in Metro Manila but in also in many parts of the country, even in rural areas. Sadly, street parking has become “acceptable” in our country because all levels of government – from the barangay to the national government – have allowed it.

The initiative of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to clear the streets and sidewalks is commendable because, as what we have seen in the past months, it is done continuously and it has spared no one.

Illegal street parking and other street obstructions need to be recognized as a concern that needs to be addressed by stricter national laws.

The current state of the problem tells us that the issue cannot be addressed by local government units because they are very much part of the problem.

In Metro Manila and in other urban areas, illegal street parking has become a source of revenue for many local government units. The practice of charging fees for street parking is an act of local government units to legalize illegal actions.

For many other local government units that do not charge “illegal” parking fee, the inaction on illegal street parking and other street obstructions is a clear proof that they are part of the problem.

These are just two simple arguments that point to the necessity of a national law that will put things in order.

In crafting a measure to address this problem, our legislators can and should learn a lot from the experience of MMDA in clearing Metro Manila streets. The solution is not simply institutionalizing clearing operations like what MMDA is doing because it is simply not enough.

We have seen how a street cleared by MMDA on day one will be full of illegally parked vehicles, illegal vendors and other obstructions the following day. Unless a national law will provide for mechanism for 24/7 clearing operations in all streets in the country, such intervention alone will not solve the problem.

The MMDA and the DILG filed cases against some barangay officials for allowing illegal parking and other street obstructions. This is a good component of the intervention but the concerned agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan need to act fast on such cases before barangay and other local officials really own the responsibility and duty to clear our streets.

If we cannot put order in our streets, particularly in terms of parking and obstructions, how can we even hope that other bigger national problems have a chance of being solved.

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