Ending 2019: Hope springs eternal

Published December 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

BELOW THE LINE

By AMBASSADOR

Ambassador  José Abeto  Zaide
Ambassador José Abeto Zaide

JOSE ABETO ZAIDE

For us lesser mortals, getting from one point to the other is a daily challenge.

Newshawks have given our traffic chaos the monicker “Carmageddon,” earning for Manila the cachet as “home of the world’s worst traffic mess.” Self-styled experts have suggested to Congress to grant emergency power to the President. The Senate, however, is not convinced the proposal is the right solution. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) reckons Manila traffic problem translates to some P3.5 billion in economic losses. Unless arrested, the daily costs can jump top to as high as P5.4 billion.

Traffic is not just about constricted roads, heavy (and exponentially increasing) volume of vehicles, illegal occupancy and squatting on sidewalks, and flawed regulations. We are beset with regulations and road advisories that are contrary to sound public management, and need effective policies to address vehicle over-population. Some suggested solutions include the demobilization of unserviceable and poorly maintained cars, banning motorcycles from the Metro highways during rush hours, a ‘”No Garage, No Car” policy, no bus terminals along EDSA, and clearing metropolitan streets of derelict vehicles. Our streets double as converted motor pools, machine shops, car wash areas, parking lots. We can accelerate smooth traffic flow byeffective implementation of traffic laws and elimination (or at least, minimizing) petty corruption among officials willing to look the other way.

We, who are longer in the tooth, may not know who “Yorme” is.  It took my daughter to point to me that it is the name of Manila Hizzoner.

(Translation for contemporaries of my generation: “Yorme” is for “Meyor” Isko Moreno Domagaso, whose gift of gab and habitual sliding into dyslexic conversation has this septuagenarian at a loss.)

Mayor Isko Moreno launched his program to give back the streets to the public. He cleaned-up public monuments of vandalism and grime; rehabilitated the Arroceros Forest Park; clamped-down on gambling dens; accosted drug pushers, launched anti-corruption drive in city hall and the Manila police force, established a same-day release of applications for business permits, and introduced general amnesty for delinquent taxpayers. But it was in the de-clogging of major thoroughfares like the chaotic streets of Recto, Divisoria, Soler, and Carriedo that earned the attention of many:

–        Juan Luna, Soler, Dagupan and Lagusnilad  –  cleared of vendors.

–        Recto Avenue, Ilaya, Tabora, Asuncion, Sto Cristo, Carmen Planas, Quezon Boulevard, Blumentritt, Rizal Avenue, Evangelista, Quezon Boulevard.

–       Vendors allowed on sidewalks.

–        Plaza Miranda  –  public square cleared, vendors allowed in perimeter.

–        Carriedo St  -vendors allowed to occupy one lanes; foot traffic must be unhampered.

Yorme didn’t stop there.  In a memo to the MMDA, he proposed to ease the never-ending traffic congestion along thoroughfares traversing several cities in Metro Manila:

  1. Argued for the greatest common good, by proposing to designate EDSA exclusively for public transport and to ban all private motorcars from EDSA. (The “buses only” proposal exempts police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. One lane will be for the exclusive use of provincial buses, another for Point-to-Point buses, while the rest of the lanes will be reserved for city buses.)
  2. Urged the Department of Education to institutionalize and accredit “home schooling” (similar to what is being done in the US). He says this will cut daily commute by half since kids won’t have to leave home to get an education. And neither do their parents or nannies.
  3. Recommended a 16-hour-a-day work shift for all government and private workers who could opt to work either on Monday-Wednesday-Friday (MWF) or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday (TTS). Moreno says at any given day, the number of workers traveling on EDSA will be cut by half, and that morning and evening commutes will practically be eliminated.
  4. Every Sunday, EDSA will be closed to ALL vehicular traffic. The entire avenue will be transformed into a pedestrian’s paradise.

MMDA and the other city mayors in the metropolitan districts have yet to comment on Yorme Moreno’s proposals, but technocrats who have read the master plan endorse it.

Items 2 and 3 are quite novel and revolutionary.  We have to see the proof of the pudding.

From the diplomatic corps, 18 foreign ambassadors have paid courtesy visits to the mayor to show their support. The list grows longer. The Manila Hizzoner has surprised many and we have to see if this guy really walks on water.

In the sincerest form of compliment, an inspired President Rodrigo Duterteenjoined the DILG to hold up to the local authorities to follow the example of Yorme of Manila….or face the music if they fail.

***

In the same breath, a concerned citizen, Romy Lacson, comments that metropolitan buses are not the cause of our traffic woes; it’s the private cars.  He recommends thatMMDA seriously study this to give a most-favored-treatment to the masses.

  • A bus carries 12 times a private car. In most countries, buses are given priority because it is the everyman’s transport.
  • Give priority to buses at EDSA by allocating two lanes exclusively for them, (and not allow private cars with less than three occupants on rush hours.)
  • Why are provincial bus terminals located outside Metro Manila? (Provincial bus passengers generally carrymore baggage, and yet incur extra fare to reach outside terminals. The system produces pollution, wasted fuels, lost man hours to those unnecessarily burdened.  FEEDBACK: [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor Isko Moreno has launched a program to return the streets to the public. He succeeded in unclogging the byways of Divisoria and Quiapo; cleaned-up public monuments of vandalism and grime; rehabilitated the Arroceros Forest Park; clamped-down on gambling dens in Recto; accosted drug pushers in Baseco; launched an anti-corruption drive in city hall and the Manila police force; established a one-day system to secure business permits; and introduced general amnesty for delinquent taxpayers. President Rodrigo Duterteenjoined the DILG to adopt the policy to compel barangay chairmen to follow their mandate or face charges if they fail.In his first month as Mayor of Manila he made surprise inspections all over the city, visited some Manila’s landmark sites, and presided over destruction of gambling machines and illegally built barracks.He succeeded in uncloggingDivisoria, Recto, Carriedo and Quiapo;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Poverty Issue:

 

In our country, the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.

 

you will find that a lot of those oligarchs are having profits by double digit billions. yet you will find that their rank and file employees are receiving starvation wages especially the ENDO. Most of these employees are captive of loan sharks. If they really want to help our economy, those who can easily afford, to increase the wages  and salaries  of the rank and file, (not the executives). In that way, the rank and file will be free from loan sharks, more money to spend, that can trigger the economy. For those companies that can afford, they should have a higher minimum wages what is a few billion less profit if you are earning tens of billion every year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was young and full of hope, I began my first day of school by taking the jeepney from Protacio Street in Pasay City to the quonset huts at the Ateneo de Manila in Padre Faura.  Much later, in high school and through college, I continued commuting from Tambo, Paranaque, to Loyola Heights.  It was do-able, even if I had to read my algebra and other lessons on the bus along EDSA (with transfer at Cubao to catch another bus).

 

When it was my time to raise a family of my own, my wife and I rented an apartment in Malate; and I walked to office at DFA ten blocks away.  We enrolled our children at schools nearby (St. Paul’s, Manila Science and Malate Catholic School). We opted to spare our boys the quotidian agony of commuting to Loyola Heights.

 

Today I cannot imagine how families manage to juggle the challenge of commuting to work and/or bringing their kids to school, (if it means one to two-and-a-half hours for school children going, and same time to return home).

 

Manila’s Light Rail Transit (LRT) which opened in 1985 is the oldest rapid transit system in South East Asia.  It antedates by three years Singapore Mass Rapid Transit, which opened in 1987. Singapore MRT has since grown rapidly in accordance with Singapore’s aim of developing a comprehensive rail network as the backbone of the public transport system, with an average daily ridership of 3.302 million in 2018. I repeat: Our claim to fame rests on having our MRT three years ahead.

 

Urban planning expert Felino Palafox Jr. blamed “too much politics” and lack of continuity and institutional memory for our maddening traffic. He cites infrastructure projects only officially began work now despite all having been proposed decades ago. Vide:

  • The proposal of eight light rail transit lines which should have been completed by 1992,
  • The subway system which was proposed in 1971, and
  • The Circumferential Road 6 which was proposed in 1945.

 

Palafox points to the World Bank-funded Manila Development Planning Project in 1976, where he served as senior planner and team leader. It isn’t for lack of ideas that we are behind and overtaken. (We have a surfeit of bright ideas, which seem not to get off the blueprint.  Intervention of several other considerations get in the way of original plans.) Palafox said that our habitual sitting on our hands explains our “catastrophic traffic, flooding, unpreparedness for disasters, lack of decent housing, garbage problem, water supply crisis, power, and so on…” Metropolitan Manila Area suffers from major transportation problems, and we have become accustomed to chronic congestion because of population growth and exponential increase in the number of private passenger vehicles.

Scare stories.  Metro Manila’s traffic congestion as the third-worst in Southeast Asia, costing motorists and commuters an average of more than an hour lost in traffic (Boston Consulting Group study in 2017). Traffic congestion costs the Philippines daily P3.5 billion in “lost opportunities” (JICA).   In 2018 EDSA averaged around 402,000 vehicles per day, far exceeding its capacity of 288,000 vehicles, (MMDA). Ranking 100 cities on their mobility systems on three main criteria: People, Planet and Profit, Manila scored 33rd for People, followed by 38th for Profit ; and 91st for Planet, (The Sustainable Cities Mobility Index 2017). Manila has the dubious distinction to place 62nd in the world ranking and 15th in Asia. BTW, a 2018 WHO study revealed the Philippines to have the third highest number of deaths due to air pollution.

Some hopeful prospects on traffic solutions:  Senate Bill No. 11 (Transportation Crisis Act of 2016) grants President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to fix Metro Manila traffic and other major urban areas. It enables the President to restructure the DOT, LTO, LTFRB, and the MMDA, creating stricter traffic enforcement and streamlining the overlapping functions of government institutions, (with MMDA and DOT as the exclusive urban traffic management enforcers).

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade wants to introduce a cable car system that will take only one year and six months to be operational, (an accelerated timeline for transport system which we desperately need now). He discussed this with the cable car manufacturer who built the system in Bolivia, and they are exploring sites for these stairway to the stars.

Manila Dream Plan (aka Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila)  –  Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. announced the “Dream Plan”, approved by NEDA in June 2014 and drafted by JICA, consisting of short, medium and long-term projects. It is organized into five components (At Grade Urban Roads, Main Roads/Expressways Network, Urban and Suburban Rail Network, Road-Based Public Transport and Traffic Management Strengthening).

Friendship Route  -Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez has an eureka idea to bypass the traffic jams along the country’s major roads by opening thru ways in private subdivisions in Parañaque, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa. (Exclusive enclaves still instinctively resist the idea; but some subdivisions welcome the program.) First to open to the friendship route are Doña Soledad subdivision in Barangay Don Bosco. Concha Cruz Ave., which leads to Toyota Alabang in Las Piñas, and the BF international gate on Southville. If Mayor Olivarez can introduce the correct protocol (security) and punctual transit opening/closing hours, his ‘Open Sesame’ initiative may provide much needed relief to our motorists.  FEEDBACK: [email protected]

Romy Lacson<[email protected]>

 

Mon, Aug 5, 6:02 PM (8 days ago)

 

to me

 

 

Metro Manila Traffic:

 

Buses is not the culprit on our traffic woes, it’s the private cars. Buses carry more than 12 times a private car, which usually has only the driver or with one passenger.  In some countries buses are given priority. because it’s a poor man’s transportation. For example in EDSa, why not try to give priority to buses. assigned two lanes on both sides exclusively for buses, and not allowing private cars with less than three occupants on rush hours.why are they concentrating on buses, while those are the poor man’s most economical transport. it looks that their priority are the private cars instead of the poor riding public,  what did they do, they put up provincial buses terminal out side Metro Manila. Usually provincial passengers carry a lot of baggage, which of course will cost them more to reach their destination. The present system produces more pollution, on wasted fuels, lost man of hours, which affect their productivity. I wish MMDA will seriously study this matter giving priority to the masa.

 

On Poverty Issue:

 

In our country, the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.

 

you will find that a lot of those oligarchs are having profits by double digit billions. yet you will find that their rank and file employees are receiving starvation wages especially the ENDO. Most of these employees are captive of loan sharks. If they really want to help our economy, those who can easily afford, to increase the wages  and salaries  of the rank and file, (not the executives). In that way, the rank and file will be free from loan sharks, more money to spend, that can trigger the economy. For those companies that can afford, they should have a higher minimum wages what is a few billion less profit if you are earning tens of billion every year.

 

This is just my opinion, and I think through your column, they might consider studying it. You don’t know me but I keep reading your column. I use to work as a deputy for of NFA, during the Marcos time. I know Bing Zaide and I think he still knows me. We had a lot of dealings before.

 

Understanding Isko’s magic

THE CORNER ORACLE – Andrew J. Masigan (The Philippine Star) – August 21, 2019 – 12:00am

Barely two months in office and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso has succeeded to unclog the byways of Divisoria and Quiapo; clean-up public monuments of vandalism and grime; rehabilitate the Arroceros Forest Park; clamp-down on gambling dens in Recto; accost drug pushers in Baseco; launch an anti-corruption drive within city hall and the Manila police force; establish a one-day system to secure business permits; and enforce a general amnesty for delinquent taxpayers.

I could go on …. suffice to say that the new Mayor has done more for the city of Manila in the last 60 days than Erap did over six years.

The public’s reaction has been phenomenal. Netizens, normally unforgiving and quick to criticize, have declared their approval, if not adulation, for the young Mayor. Among the diplomatic corps, at least 18 ambassadors paid courtesy visits to the Mayor to lend their support. Even cabinet secretaries made their way to city hall to offer their assistance. Without doubt, Isko has captured the hearts and minds of the people.

What makes Isko different from other Mayors who have hit the ground running? I ascribe his immense popularity to two reasons.

The first has to do with the city of Manila itself. We all have a stake in Manila, it being the nation’s capital and our face to the world.  We witnessed how the city has spiraled to new depths of poverty, decay, and blight under Erap’s hand. Plying the roads of Manila is a heartbreaking experience what with squalor at every turn. As Filipinos, we yearn for redemption for our capital. It is the cradle of the nation’s soul, after all. Isko provides hope that redemption is possible.

The second reason is Isko himself. I met Isko a few months ago as he was preparing for his mayoral bid. What was meant to be a short meeting turned out to be a four-hour conversation. I got to know the man, both his public persona and certain aspects of his private life. He was disarmingly honest and allowed me to peer into his thinking process.

I can understand why the public is drawn to the man. At the heart of his appeal is that he shares our frustrations and aspirations.  As councilor and vice mayor for 18 years, he knows exactly what is wrong with the city. He recognizes its filth, he knows it is despairingly inefficient and corrupt, he is aware that unemployment and poverty are festering problems. All these disturb him. Many times during our conversation, he lamented how businesses have left Manila for Makati and Taguig and how the city’s tax base has shrunk. Unlike Erap who denied (and ignored) the city’s problems, Isko acknowledges them. He cares about the city and it shows.

Like you and I, he pines for a capital city that every Filipino can be proud of – efficient, safe, green and competitive.

As wave upon wave of house cleaning measures took place in his first few weeks in office, we began to realize that he has both the capability and political will to fix Manila’s broken ways.

Sincerity of intention, political will and capability is a powerful combination. Taken together, it speaks of a champion. Isko became the people’s champion and he gave us hope for Manila’s redemption. Hope is where Isko’s magic lies.

For all he’s done and the pace in which he did it, Isko deserves the public approval he enjoys today. That said, it will do him well to lay low on his public relations offense. The time has come to let the work speak for itself. We are at the point of saturation and people now want to see tangible results. A bombardment of publicity will only lead the public to doubt his sincerity and whether all these are just a precursor for a 2022 play. Again, I caution Isko on the aggressive use of publicity.

Ultimately, the Mayor will be judged by the promises he made. During our four-hour conversation    , he made five promises over and above delivering basic services to the people of Manila. Let me itemize them so as to be clear on what we can expect.

First, he promised to revive the historic districts of Manila through repurposing old structures and developing new ones. The plan is to convert Escolta into a retail and entertainment hub similar to Clark Quay in Singapore (his description, not mine). In Binondo, building owners will be given a 10-year property tax holiday as an incentive to renovate or rebuild. The idea is to increase each building’s gross leasable area so as to add tenancy capacity. With more business locating in Binondo, the city can expect its tax base to balloon by the time the amnesty ends.

Second, to make the tourist belt a clean, walkable, green corridor that is safe and tourist friendly. To this, the Mayor promised to build a pedestrian skywalk to connect Intramuros to Luneta and onwards to LiwasanBonifacio and Escolta. He vowed to preserve heritage sites and create new landmarks. Further, the old city hall building will be repurposed into a museum, cultural and retail center. A modern administrative building will be built on an adjacent property.

Third, he promised to solve the informal settler problem of the city. Relocation sites will be built on properties owned by the city, particularly in Baseco, Vito Cruz, Valderama del Pan, Adriatico and even in the city of Marikina. Each family will be given decent dwellings with a minimum size of 45 square meters.

Fourth, a new central business district will be built in the former Pandacan oil depot site in partnership with the private sector. Dubbed the Pandacan Greenfield City, it is foreseen to house knowledge-based businesses and those involved in research and technology. This will make Manila relevant again, businesswise. It will also restore its competitiveness.

Fifth, to quell corruption in city hall, the Mayor plans to automate most systems so as to minimize human contact between LGU workers and the public. Internal systems will comply with ISO standards.

Civil society naturally gravitate to strong leaders with a strong sense of purpose. This is why Isko has the support he enjoys today. If Isko does good by his promises, as I am confident he will, there will be no stopping him for whatever plans he may have by the end of his term. His magic will live on.

 

MAYOR ISKO MORENO’S PLAN TO PERMANENTLY SOLVE EDSA TRAFFIC

AUGUST 8, 2019 POL PINOY LEAVE A COMMENT

MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – It takes the likes of Isko Moreno to rid a city of illegal vendors, clean up the metropolis, and break down constructions that obstruct the flow of traffic. He could also make an entire city “green.”

Now, the Manila City Mayor has submitted his master plan to permanently solve the nightmarish traffic along EDSA.

In a memo sent to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Moreno proposed the following which he says is a “sure fire” to ease the never-ending traffic congestion along the busy thoroughfare which traverses several cities in Metro Manila:

  1. Arguing that mass transportation is the way to go, he proposes to permanently ban all private cars on EDSA. The “buses-only” proposal will, however, exempt police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. One lane will be for the exclusive use of provincial buses, another for Point-to-Point buses, while the rest of the lanes will be reserved for city buses.
  2. Urge the Department of Education to institutionalize and accredit “home schooling” similar to what is being done in the U.S. He says that “if we abolish elementary school, it will cut daily commute by half since kids won’t have to leave home to get an education. And neither do their parents or nannies.”

 

  1. Implement a 16-hour-a-day work shift for all government and private workers who could choose to work either on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Moreno says at any given day, the number of workers traveling on EDSA will be cut by half, and that morning and evening commutes will practically be eliminated.
  2. Every Sunday, EDSA will be closed to ALL vehicular traffic. The entire avenue will be transformed into a pedestrian’s paradise.

MMDA and the other Metro Manila Mayors have yet to comment on Moreno’s proposal, but already, technocrats who heard of the master plan are poised to fully endorse it.

 
CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP
 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

["news","news"]
[2067575,2877059,2877062,2877065,2877056,2877045,2874327]