Issue of August 11, 2019
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Mayor, please take cue

Rising political star, Isko Moreno, the mayor of Manila, gave a stern warning to barangay captains in his district that they might as well resign or they will be fired if they cannot eradicate the drug menace and clear the streets of illegally parked vehicles and obstructions. He gave them a one week deadline from Aug. 1, 2019. They scampered and complied. In a short period of time, the result of the mayor’s directive is quite obvious. The long stretch of highway from Recto Avenue intersecting Buendia Avenue and Rizal Avenue until Divisoria is clean and clear. No more obstructions and no more illegally parked vehicles.

Not to be outdone, the mayor of San Juan, Francis Zamora, personally led his traffic enforcers in clearing the Santolan Road, Washington, and Club Filipino avenues; and all streets that link his city to and from Edsa, of illegally parked vehicles. He literally took his hammer and nail to put up signs warning errant motorists not to park nor leave their vehicles unattended along those stretches of highways lest they be towed or fined. He was firm as he was determined.

Joy Belmonte, the mayor of Quezon City, also had her moment of compliance when she required her traffic aides to clear the streets along Commonwealth and Philcoa of illegally parked vehicles and dismantle the staging areas of colorum jeepneys and buses in front of the City Hall.

Other mayors of Metro Manila followed suit by imposing a strict guideline against illegal parking and obstruction of traffic within their respective jurisdictions.

The result of all these collective actions from the city mayors is very positive. Today, Baclaran, which used to be the haven of hawkers and peddlers, is clean. The usual one hour to take a turn from the church to Roxas Boulevard has been radically reduced to about 20 minutes. Recto Avenue, which is overcrowded most of the time, is now passable. People from Metro Manila are heaving a sigh of relief to all these and are thankful to what their mayors are doing. After years of neglect, they are one in concluding that “puwede naman pala.”

The concerted move by Metro Manila mayors to clear their streets of illegally parked vehicles and other nuisances was in response to the marching order of President Rodrigo Duterte. During his State of the Nation Address, he specifically ordered the heads of local government units to recover public streets from encroachers so that it may pave the way for a smooth traffic. True enough, travelling in Metro Manila is more convenient and faster nowadays.

Maybe, our very own Mayor Benjamin Magalong should take a cue from the positive development that is happening in Metro Manila. For, in the city of Baguio, we have a similar problem of illegally parked vehicles and car owners appropriating public streets as their private garage. Go to Queen of Peace, go to Cabinet Hill, go to Aurora Hill, go to Happy Glenn Loop, go to Dominican Hill. All these roads are tattered with private and public vehicles that are comfortably parked beside the roads while motorists eke their way around them. This is a grave problem. It narrows the streets and denies passersby a legitimate passage.

Should not our mayor also take heed of the directive of Duterte and clear our public roads of those illegally parked vehicles? Should he not demolish private garages that take so much space out of our streets and deprive honest-to-goodness motorists in using the same as an alternative route to and from their destination?

Yeah, I know, if he does what Moreno and the other Metro Manila mayors are doing to clear their streets, it will be an unpopular move. He will surely lose some pogi points which may derail his political career. But what the heck, Magalong acknowledged during his campaign that one of the pressing issues that must be attended to by the chief executive is to ease the traffic. For starters, the most sensible thing to do is to ban illegal parking and move all obstructions along public roads and bridges. If we cannot phase out vehicles, remove them from the roads. Let the owners solve their own problem in finding a suitable place to put their cars. After all, owning a car and finding a place where to park is as much a responsibility as raising a child and finding a school to enroll him.

Besides, Magalong was overwhelmingly elected because of what many believe is his capacity to demonstrate political will. In the past, he was the only one who had the gall to tell the truth about the Mamasapano massacre, unmindful of any favor or fear from then President Benigno Aquino III. He has shown courage and an unbending will to do what is right. He may want to take solace in the thought that in Baguio City, there are more compliant car owners than there are arrogant and unmindful ones.

His position as a mayor is once more summoning him to do what is right. What is right is to reclaim our roads from illegally parked vehicles and other forms of obstructions that steal our pathways and delay our travel. He knows this and surely, he will act.

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