Government is normally seen as a stern regulator and a strict enforcer of the law.
But the other face of government is that of an institution that enables, empowers citizens.
Considering its vast, almost unchallenged authority, the government should be a benign, beneficent, institution that unleashes capacities of people to achieve personal and collective progress.
This means, government agencies must be enablers, breaking down barriers and clearing the road of needless regulatory strictures and they can begin the work with opening up more roads for motorists, commuters, and pedestrians.
And so we are gladdened by the initiative of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority which has proposed the opening of six more government properties to motorists to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis, especially during the Christmas holidays.
This is in addition to the move of opening up roads inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, officials said.
The MMDA proposed to open the roads at the Bonifacio Naval Station in Taguig; Office for Transportation Security along the airport area and a road in a barangay that would connect EDSA to Jupiter Street in Makati City.
MMDA officer-in-charge Thomas Orbos said the agency is also considering opening up access roads at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City, MMDA property along Roxas Boulevard and several properties of the Philippine National Railways and National Power Corp. in Metro Manila.
Orbos said there was an average improvement of 10 minutes in travel time in Metro Manila a month after the no-window policy was launched.
The Highway Patrol Group, however, said the travel time along EDSA has improved by 20 minutes with the implementation of the traffic scheme.
Under the emergency powers bill the House is considering, Transporation Secretary Arthur Tugade would be designated traffic czar who would exercise the special authority to be granted to the President.
Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, transportation committee chairman, has expressed dismay over Tugade’s failure to take advantage of “low-lying fruits” that would have eased traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
These include road clearing, opening subdivision roads to traffic, expedited and negotiated procurement, strict traffic enforcement, reorganizing agencies having to do with traffic and land transportation regulations as well as rationalization of public utility bus routes and franchises.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has criticized Tugade for failing to deliver on Duterte’s promise to ease traffic congestion and make vehicle license plates and driver’s licenses available in the first 100 days of his administration. Meanwhile, transport groups have expressed their support for the government’s efforts in alleviating traffic in the metropolis, including granting President Duterte emergency powers.
Orbos met with leaders of the transport groups at the MMDA main office in Makati on Friday.