POSTSCRIPT / June 21, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Roxas to win in 2016 if Poe is disqualified

EVERYTHING has been suggested to solve the daily traffic madness on EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Ave.) that has become an acid test of the Aquino administration’s competence. Let us refocus on a few items that might help.

Back to the Four Essential E’s of traffic management – Engineering, Education, Enforcement and E-control – it cannot be overstated that unless all four elements are smoothly integrated, easing EDSA’s solid state traffic is impossible.

And since the Metro Manila Development Authority has been left on auto-pilot while chair Francis Tolentino crisscrosses the country campaigning for a Senate seat, we will zero in on a few measures that may help relieve the tight situation.

First, the challenge of squeezing through limited road space the growing number of motor vehicles on the road.

The government can try creating more navigable space this way: During rush hours (6:30 – 9 a.m. and 4:30 – 7 p.m.), selected thoroughfares feeding/emptying EDSA should be strict no-parking-tow-away zones.

These auxiliary streets absorbing rush-hour traffic have been identified. There should be absolutely no parking along these roads. Any vehicle that stops more than three minutes on these routes should be quickly towed away, no questions asked.

The MMDA, the traffic police and the Land Transportation Office should show no mercy. Before the tow-away period, motorcycle cops, wreckers and other equipment with flashers blinking menacingly should make their presence felt.

On EDSA and designated thoroughfares, towing away of stalled vehicles during rush hours must be quick and done by the wrecker first on the scene. If a driver pleads to be allowed to wait for his special towing service (AAP, for instance), sorry.

• Exempt 3-pax car from number coding

IN CONNECTION with vehicle volume reduction, the MMDA may continue the number-coding ban, but make this exception:

Any private vehicle with at least three riders (including the driver) should be exempted from the number-coding rule. This will encourage ride-sharing to maximize use of vehicles and save fuel.

Vehicles with heavy tinting, including those with red (government) plates, may be flagged down by traffic officers for a quick, courteous checking of how many people are on board.

Enforcement agencies must field only well-trained personnel in proper uniform and equipped with the skill of talking to people without being offensive.

This is not a new idea. Many cities in the civilized world have allowed the use of restricted fast lanes by vehicles with more than two passengers. Since we have no fast lanes in Metro Manila we can apply it to the number-coding rule.

No swerving rules and vehicle-type separation (“kanya-kanyang” lane) must be enforced strictly to maximize efficient use of the limited road space. Officers must be firm but courteous, while motorists must cooperate.

Even high officials and VIPs must obey no-swerving rules. Traffic officers who issue a violation ticket to an official or his driver will be given a P1,000 reward.

This will be preceded by a reasonable period of preparing and educating all motorists, MV owners, enforcers and the public on what is about to happen. Since patrol cars occupy too much space, enforcers must ride marked motorcycles.

• When red light catches you in yellow box

MANY traffic jams at intersections are caused by motorists caught by the red light while in the yellow box. Big money has been spent for painting those yellow boxes but we just ignore them.

Our drivers and traffic officers must relearn the rule that a vehicle must not cross an intersection unless the light is green and there is space on the other side. One should not proceed even on a green if there is no sure space on the other side

It is ironic that some traffic officers themselves abet this bad habit by waving vehicles to proceed even when the light is about to turn red without space on the other side. Or they make vehicles move beyond the limit line and straddle the pedestrian lane while waiting for the green light.

They do not seem to understand or appreciate the reasons behind the solid limit line drawn across the road just before the striped pedestrian lane.

We write these traffic notes at the risk of foreign readers being amused that motorists, pedestrians and even traffic officers in the nation’s capital do not know the basic rules.

• Roxas is next president if Poe is disqualified

WE ARE forced to drop our subject today (the surveys on presidential wannabes) after seeing MMDA boss Tolentino and transportation officials engrossed with other matters.

But to summarize in the remaining space our take on the Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Stations surveys, here it is:

• The Liberal Party presidential candidate will likely be Mar Roxas. Carried by the massive administration machine and money, he will win in 2016, if Grace Poe will be disqualified on citizenship or residency grounds.

• But if Poe is allowed to run she will be a sure winner – if she can commandeer a national political machine ready to carry her and provided she will not be finicky with contributors ready to bet big on her.

• Jojo Binay will find it extremely difficult to recover lost ground eroded by corruption issues. His chances of winning the presidency have dimmed.

• Rody Duterte is an interesting alternative, especially for that segment of the weary population looking for a firm hand to whip the country into line. But there are no indications that he can repackage his image from a local commando chief into a national leader of substance.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 21, 2015)

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