THE CLEANUP of Metro Manila’s major thoroughfares is long overdue. I like to compare the current road-clearing operations in the metropolis to the rehabilitation of Boracay Island and other famous resorts in the Philippines, which has been a success and noticed by foreign tourism bodies and travelers alike.
The directive of President Duterte to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Metro Manila mayors should, be pursued earnestly. The cleanup drive should emulate the Boracay initiative to restore law and order in the capital region, and even in Mega Manila that includes nearby provinces.
Illegal merchants and unscrupulous businessmen have taken over some of the major and busy roads in Metro Manila, compounding the traffic problem and giving the image that lawlessness is the order of the day in the country.
President Duterte, during his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22, 2019, told all mayors to “reclaim all public roads that are being used for private ends.” I could not agree more. Roads are built to transport commuters to their intended destinations and should be free from obstructions.
I understand the plight of the vendors who are trying to make a living when they occupied many of Metro Manila’s roads. But I believe local officials can work out a sustainable arrangement for these displaced vendors to ply their trade somewhere else, and not on the busy roads of the metropolis. A lot of people and even foreign tourists will appreciate a cleaner and more orderly Metro Manila.
All mayors should follow the directive of President Duterte. Local and foreign tourists, for one, will enjoy their stay more in Metro Manila if they can travel freely and safely in and out of the city.
I am glad local executives have heeded the call of President Duterte. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año just recently marked the start of the 60-day countdown for Metro Manila mayors to finish the road-clearing campaign. Local authorities have also given erring motorists and illegal vendors a reasonable warning in connection with the ongoing crackdown on illegal parking and other forms of road obstructions.
MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim and National Capital Region Police Office Director Major Gen. Guillermo Eleazar both vowed to clamp down on activities that impede traffic flow and endanger other road users both on major and secondary streets in Metro Manila.
Local government executives, in turn, pledged to dismantle informal roadside shops and other illegal structures in their respective areas to ease traffic congestion. I notice that President Duterte’s directive has already produced initial results. Mayors Edwin Olivarez of Parañaque and Imelda Calixto-Rubiano of Pasay have cleared the obstructions in the notorious Baclaran area and committed their support to the MMDA to make all roads obstruction-free, while looking for alternatives to relocate the vendors.
MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim is doing his part by asking mayors to start with national roads, Mabuhay lanes and identified roads in their cities that serve as alternative routes. “For the identified routes, no parking and illegal structures must be allowed, then we can deal with the side streets later,” said Lim.
“There would be no let-up in our operations as the DILG gave us orders to reclaim the roads in 60 days. We will ensure that these will be done daily to fast-track clearing of all roads,” Lim promised.
MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. agreed with Lim. “These roads were being used for profit for a long time and it’s about time we reclaim it for the common good. Sidewalks are for pedestrians while public roads are for motorists,” he said.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso was among the first Metro Manila executives to initiate the road cleanup. His first move as mayor was to clear the chaotic and messy commercial area of Divisoria, followed by the busy streets of Quiapo, Rizal Avenue, Carriedo, Recto Avenue and Blumentritt.
There should be no let-up in cleaning up and restoring order in Metro Manila. Like the Boracay restoration and the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay, the road-clearing operations should continue to transform the capital region into a modern metropolis on a par with those in the region.
This piece first came out in Business Mirror on Aug. 7, 2019 under the column “The Entrepreneur.” For comments/feedback e-mail to: [email protected] or visitwww.mannyvillar.com.ph./PN