MANILA, Philippines – Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto warned barangay officials of sanctions for closing off public streets, as local governments across the country race to comply with a directive to clear all public roads before the end of September.
“Isang paalala lang po sa ating mga Barangay at Kapitan para sa road clearing: Bawal magsara ng mga pampublikong kalsada (Just a reminder to our Barangays and their Captains regarding road clearing: Closing public roads is prohibited),” Sotto said on his official Facebook page on Monday, August 12.
“May mga barangay na nagbebenta pa ng sticker (There are even barangays that sell stickers),” Sotto said, as he took a jab at the practice of charging motorists for stickers in exchange for access to otherwise public roads.
Sotto reminded barangay officials of a directive from President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to remove all obstructions from public roads, which the Pasig mayor reiterated in a memorandum order on July 30.
In his State of the Nation Address on July 22, Duterte ordered the DILG to “reclaim all public roads” in order to solve the country’s traffic crisis, particularly in Metro Manila.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año followed up with a directive to all mayors to drive away vendors and parked vehicles that obstruct public roads, setting a “countdown” of 60 days that began on July 29.
The DILG ordered the mayors to make an inventory of their cities’ or municipalities’ roads and submit their plans on how to solve the problem.
Mayors who fail to comply with the directive may face suspension.
“Lahat tayo ay maaaring makasuhan at masuspindi. ‘Wag na natin paabutin sa ganito. Salamat po (We all may get charged and suspended. Let’s not let it come to this. Thank you),” Sotto told his subordinates.
Pasig traffic woes
Sotto said city hall would release on Tuesday, August 13, a list of all public roads in Pasig, adding that the city had no existing Road Inventory.
In a Facebook post on Friday, August 9, Sotto said Pasig did not have an inventory of tricycle terminals either, and that traffic lights in the city were calibrated using data from 2014, leaving them mismatched with the current volume of traffic.
Sotto also lamented how Pasig City inevitably suffered from efforts of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to ease traffic on EDSA.
“Most notably, the efforts of the MMDA along EDSA have greatly increased vehicle volume on C5 and even the interior roads of Pasig. We will defer to the wisdom and authority of the MMDA, but this increased traffic on our side is a reality for now,” Sotto said.
The new mayor added that ultimately, no policy will solve the metropolis’ traffic problem unless there is less demand for cars.
“This means a greater focus on moving people rather than private vehicles. This means incorporating more non-car modes of transportation in our long-term plans,” he said.
In the same post, Sotto announced that the city’s Traffic Management Task Force would present their final recommendations to reorganize the city’s vehicle flow on Thursday, August 15.
The move to overhaul traffic in Pasig started on Sotto’s first week in office in July, when he suspended an odd-even traffic scheme that many residents – as well as motorists passing through the city – found too stringent but ineffective. – Rappler.com
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