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No-garage, no-car policy will breed corruption

  • Written by Itchie Cabayan
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 643

THERE is no doubt that at least for the past several years, one of the worst problems the Philippines had been faced with is the perennially worsening traffic situation, particularly along EDSA and other major thoroughfares within Metro Manila.  I don’t see how “Proof-of-Parking Space Act” or House Bill 5098 can ease the traffic problem. But I can clearly see that lawmakers are surely going to push for it, since obviously, they are not even in touch with the kind of life middle-income or average-income families, which comprise majority of Filipinos, deal with in their day-to-day existence.

The said bill seeks to address the illegal parking in secondary and tertiary roads from EDSA, saying it is one of the major causes of worsening traffic in Metro Manila. Fine. But to extend the said prohibition on small, residential streets specially those that are  not even considered as alternative routes, is quite oppressive.
   
The bill’s author, then Congressman and now Senator Win Gatchalian, probably overlooked the fact that not all vehicle buyers or owners are as rich as him or most of his fellow lawmakers, whose garage can fit a fleet of vehicles or who can even afford to buy a whole parking building all to themselves.
   
Ordinarily, average Filipino families these days purchase cars no longer as a form of luxury but more so because it has become a necessity and spells a lot of savings. This plus the fact that all forms of public transport nowadays are no longer that safe and reliable. A good number of such families merely rent homes and I’m sure not all of these rented houses have a garage of their own.
   
Rented apartments usually offer the side of the street right outside his apartment as the only space available where one could park his car or motorcycle.
   
Instead of targeting residential areas if street parking will really be disallowed and proof of available parking space be required, it would be better to focus on major thoroughfares which are known bottlenecks or lead to bottleneck areas. Business establishments which also abuse their parking privileges by allotting one or two lanes outside of their establishments for their customers must also be prohibited from doing so.

In the case of EDSA, there are no idle or parked vehicles on either side and yet the daily traffic there is a total mess.    
   
Have authorities looked into the possibility that some traffic enforcers assigned there might have been turning a blind eye on buses and other public utility vehicles who load and unload passengers wherever they want? Worse, some buses turn portions of EDSA into a virtual terminal where their drivers stay for as long as they want, or at least until their vehicles are filled with passengers.
   
In the said proposed law, the Land Transportation Office, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and concerned local government units will be mandated to make ocular inspections in implementing the provisions which include compliance with the requisite of executing  an affidavit and proving that he -- the vehicle buyer -- has a permanent parking space for his own private vehicle,  whether such is made an integral part of his house or building structure or a leased facility.
   
Once turned into law, the floodgates to corruption will certainly open, from the barangay level all the way the traffic police and yes, even the local government units, the LTO and the MMDA, thus putting more burden to the already burdened majority.
   
After all, there are no safeguards to stop unscrupulous public officials from using the said law as another opportunity to mulct car owners or even motorcycle owners,  just for them to go around the requirement and still be allowed to continue parking in front of their homes.

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By the way, lawmakers should first pass a law that would prohibit vendors from occupying major roads and streets because this is where all traffic problems begin.
   
Once sidewalks and the streets are filled with vendors, pedestrians have no recourse but to walk on the second or third lanes allotted for vehicles, leaving motorists with no choice but to contend with a single lane, thus causing bottlenecks and congesting peripheral thoroughfares.

And why do vendors abound? It’s because those from the local government units and local police are on the take. That’s why.

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