Solving Metro traffic: Spur rural development, says Robredo

Bea Cupin
The Liberal Party tandem is asked about possible solutions to Metro Manila's traffic woes

RURAL DEVELOPMENT. LP vice presidential bet Leni Robredo during a visit to her district in Naga. File photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a problem that often makes headlines in the country but the Liberal Party’s (LP) vice presidential bet says that for the most part, Metro Manila’s infamous congestion is something not many from the provinces can relate to.

“Using the lens of someone coming from the provinces…kasi doon sa amin, Pia, hindi maka-relate yung tao sa traffic kaya tingin ko rin, pagkatapos gawin lahat yun, parang yung mas long term solution, tingnan na talaga yung pag-spur ng rural development,” Camarines Sur 3rd district Representative Leni Robredo said on Thursday, December 10, during CNN Philippines’ Town Hall at the Far Eastern University.

(Using the lens of someone coming from the provinces…for us in the provinces, we can’t relate to traffic so I think after we solve that, the more long-term solution would be to really spur rural development.)

Robredo and the LP’s standard-bearer, Manuel Roxas II, were asked by CNN Philippines anchor Pia Hontiveros about their plans for the worsening traffic and transportation woes of the country’s megacity.

“Nobody wants traffic and we want to solve this. Now, the solution is, in fact, already being built,” said Roxas, who then went on say that the two North Luzon Expressway and South Expressway connectors are under construction.

Roxas also talked about his plans to rationalize Metro Manila’s bus system and to improve existing transportation infrastructure that have long been overstretched.

“We need to keep investing in infrastructure,” he said.

“Nahuli tayo nang konti dahil talagang umusbong ang ekonomiya natin, pero ginagawa na ito. At sa mas mabilis na panahon ay magagawa yung pang karagdagang pang imprastraktura,” added Roxas, who was Aquino’s transportation secretary for over a year before he was named interior secretary.

(We got left behind a litte because the economy flourished, but this is being done. And at the soonest possible time, we will build additional infrastructure.)

Robredo, who said her strength as a candidate is her exposure to the grassroots, had another solution to traffic: Make sure those from the provinces would no longer find any need to work in Metro Manila.

Kaming taga-probinsya, kung meron lang kaming choice na hindi pumunta sa Manila, hindi kami pupunta. Pero pumupunta dito lahat dahil nandito yung opportunities. Pero pag nag-invest tayo sa rural development, maglagay ng maraming a, hindi na lahat magfaflock sa Manila, hindi na sikip na sikip yung Manila,” she said.

(We from the provinces, if we had a choice, we wouldn’t come to Manila anymore. But we come here because the opportunities are here. But if we invest in rural development, put up growth centers, people won’t need to flock to Manila and we’ll see less congestion.)

Robredo, a neophyte legislator, added: “Palagay ko, dahil merong pera ngayon yung gobyerno, kaya natin gawin – nasimulan na yung pagdagdag ng mga growth centers sa mga probinsya (I think now that the government has money, we can do that – we’ve started adding growth centers in the provinces).”

Both Roxas and Robredo are campaigning on the promise of continuing the supposed gains of the current administration, under the tagline “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path).” –

Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.