Senate bet Diokno asks: What’s causing slow rollout of bus rapid transit project?

Noting that the Filipino commuters are suffering because of the inefficient public transportation system in Metro Manila, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno on Tuesday, April 19, questioned the government’s slow implementation of the bus rapid transit (BRT) project in Metro Manila that could’ve served 300,000 passengers daily.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno (Photo from Diokno’s campaign team)

“Sa gitna ng mahabang pila ng mga commuter sa inilagay na bus carousel sa EDSA, lalo’t higit na kailangan natin ng mga programa at proyektong magpapagaan sa araw-araw na pasanin ng ating mga kababayan, kabilang na rito ang BRT (In the midst of the long line of commuters in the bus carousel in EDSA, the more that we need programs and projects that will ease the everyday suffering of our countrymen, including the BRT),” Diokno, who is seeking a Senate seat, said in a statement.

The World Bank, which criticized the government because of the slow implementation of the 11.5-kilometer BRT lane and called its actions “unsatisfactory,” already approved the $40.7-million loan for the project.

It could have served up to 300,000 commuters daily if the project will be completed as scheduled in June this year. However, only $100,000 or 0.3 percent of the financing has been disbursed.

“Nakakapanghinayang lang dahil naririyan na ang pondo ngunit napakabagal ng pagpapatupad ng gobyerno. Ano ba ang pumipigil sa kanila na ipatupad ito nang mabilis (It’s just a waste that the fund is there but the government was too slow to implement it. What’s stopping them from implementing this faster)?” Diokno asked.

Before the Holy Week break, thousands of commuters were stranded along EDSA because the Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems had to close for maintenance.

People walked kilometers, and cars were stuck in the EDSA traffic because people began occupying the lanes.

“Kung naipatupad lang nang tama at maayos, malaki sana ang maitutulong nito para maibsan ang araw-araw na kalbaryo ng ating mga commuter sa pagpila patungo sa trabaho at pauwi sa kanilang mga tahanan (If it is only implemented well, this will be a big help to ease the everyday suffering of our commuters in lining up on their way to work and on their way home),” Diokno stressed.

The BRT project is in line with the senatorial hopeful’s platform of prioritizing mass transport projects to alleviate the everyday plight of commuters and to lessen traffic along major thoroughfares.

If he wins a Senate seat, Diokno wants to establish access to free legal assistance in every barrio, like the Free Legal Helpdesk that he put up on his Facebook page, to provide ordinary citizens with immediate legal help.

He also plans to push for an independent commission to investigate abuses allegedly committed or instigated by persons in authority, to avoid cover-ups and ensure that those who are supposed to enforce the law are punished when they blatantly break the law.