Do we really need the President to exercise emergency powers in order to resolve the country’s traffic congestion?
In his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) last July, President Duterte persuaded lawmakers to allow him to exercise emergency powers in order to resolve the traffic problem which, he said, had become so severe that it had become a crisis of monumental proportions.
Either Congress gives him those emergency powers, or as he said with a hint of cocky confidence borne out of years of successful governance of Davao City, the country can go the long route and suffer through six more years of traffic crisis as his administration tries to solve it piece by piece.
“Either way it’s fine with me,” President Duterte said, but as commuters and big business know only too well, they cannot live with the current state of traffic congestion that had slowed the movement of people and goods to a near crawl and will worsen in the next few years unless something decisive is done immediately.
But as far as emergency powers are concerned, and by this we’re including Metro Cebu and the province into the equation, it is better if the local governments are given the responsibility to resolve the traffic problems in their areas with some assistance perhaps from the national government.
The emergency powers may be better suited to Manila which remains the country’s biggest population center followed by Cebu and Davao. While Cebu draws a significant percentage of sea travel and traffic, Manila and the rest of Central Luzon remain the hub for air travel.
As such they draw the biggest number of Filipinos, who contribute to the congestion by either living along waterways, esteros and under flyovers and do business along the already narrow sidewalks, further taking up living space among longtime residents.
Practically the same situation exists in Metro Cebu as residents in the countryside continue to flock to the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu for greener pastures and, in finding none, resort to living alongside rivers and other waterways and . . . you get the picture.
There is already a proposal to unify all solutions to traffic, garbage, infrastructure and tourism, among other common problems through the so-called Metro Cebu Development Authority, but mayors like Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña want to go at them solo.
Speaking of Osmeña, he proposed that buses be used to fetch commuters and that private car use be banned during peak hours in the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, but since he doesn’t care what other LGUs think, why should they care about what he’s saying?
Still, local officials in Cebu or at least the mayors of the “Big Three” cities, should try to establish a common solution to traffic for starters even without the benefit of any agency if only to show that they can solve it at the local level without the President doing it for them.
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