AFTER performing their duties well, 300 ‘Spartans’ from the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group will be pulled out from their EDSA duties starting today to concentrate in addressing the traffic problem on C-5, Commonwealth Avenue and the three Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals, the PNP-HPG director said yesterday.
The PNP-HPG agents will be replaced by traffic enforcers from the Metro Manila Development Authority who will now be manning traffic on EDSA and be placed under scrutiny by a watchful public which commended the PNP-HPG for a job well done in EDSA since last year.
“My 300 HPG agents, I call them my Spartans, will be deployed to address the traffic situation in C-5, Commonwealth Avenue and the NAIA expressways where we expect monstrous traffic jams during the Yuletide season when more tourists and ‘balikbayans’ will be arriving,” said Chief Supt. Antonio N. Gardiola Jr. as he tendered a small party for the 300 members of the HPG Task Force EDSA attended by some transport authorities on Saturday.
Gardiola said that as far as they are concerned, the presence of HPG operatives in EDSA has adequately addressed the traffic situation in the 23.8-kilometer long major thoroughfare. “It’s part of our Phase 1 program which ought to address the traffic problem in EDSA, the Mabuhay Lanes and the arterial roads,” he said.
Phase 2 of the program aims to address the Metro-wide problem divided into 10 sectors. As the chief traffic enforcer of the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic or i-ACT, Gardiola said they recorded no ‘kotong’ activities of any of the 300 HPG agents deployed in EDSA since the start of the Duterte administration.
“The template we used in Phase 1 of our program in EDSA will be the same template we will be using in our Metro Manila-wide program specifically our vision to have a single enforcement system,” Gardiola said.
The classmate of PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa, from Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986, said the 300 HPG ‘Spartans’ will once again be tasked to organize and train traffic enforcers outside the HPG, deploy them to places where they are needed and most importantly, to enforce all traffic laws and regulations.
Initially, the HPG men delivered in their program to clear all obstructions in EDSA, the so-called Mabuhay Lanes or the alternate routes and other arterial roads leading to the major thoroughfare.
Phase 2 of the i-ACT’s concept of operation focuses on an integrated and inter-connected enforcement of traffic laws and regulations in the entire Metro Manila thru solid partnership between the PNP-HPG, the Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, the MMDA and local government unit enforcers or those comprising the Metro Manila Commission.
Officials said that when it comes to ‘enforcement and education,’ the PNP-HPG really delivered, earning them commendation from the public and even hard-hitting public figures and media personalities.
As of yesterday, however, there have been criticisms from several quarters regarding the plan to pull out the HPG agents from EDSA and replace them totally with personnel from the MMDA, a number of them being the consistent subject of complaints regarding their organized mulcting activities and lack of dedication to duty.
There have also been calls to investigate an alleged monthly protection racket involving operators of MMDA-accredited towing companies and some unscrupulous MMDA officers and men. Although not backed by enough evidence, charges have been made that operators of tow trucks authorized by the MMDA to tow stalled motor vehicles in Metro Manila, specifically along EDSA, allegedly pay P1,000 to some MMDA personnel, the money divided weekly by some rogue personnel assigned at the agency’s main office.
Recently, the i-ACT proposed an ambitious plan to fully automate or inter-connect all traffic lights system in Metro Manila to the tune of P16 billion, saying it is the ultimate solution to the traffic problem in Metro Manila, particularly along EDSA, the problem said to be causing the country a P2.4-billion daily loss in revenues.
Gardiola said the automation of all traffic lights system in the National Capital Region, particularly along EDSA, is the long-range proposal of the i-ACT which has already implemented ‘immediate deliverables’ to solve traffic in metropolis particularly EDSA which is being traversed daily by an average 332,000 motor vehicles.
The official said they are driven by a mission to ensure that by 2020, Metro Manila will be free from traffic congestion provided by an inter-connected traffic management system managed by highly-trained professional, unified and integrated traffic enforcers favorable for economic growth and a safe environment for motorists.
Gardiola said the country should learn its lesson from our neighboring countries in Southeast Asia which have gone thru the same traffic congestion crisis and developed their own Integrated Traffic Management System.