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The traffic gridlocks tell all

12:02 AM February 07, 2017

Thomas M. Orbos of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority was “taken aback” by the Jan. 12 editorial cartoon depicting his agency as receiving a “bundle of payola” from bus companies (“Cartoon unfair to MMDA,” Opinion, 1/24/17). So “unfair” to the thousands of civil servants who are “diligently and religiously” doing their job to manage traffic in Metro Manila, Orbos fulminated. Surely, you jest, sir!

Doesn’t Orbos listen to the radio, watch TV or read the Inquirer to feel the pulse of the public about how effete the MMDA has been by and large perceived to be for the longest time? If he has to be told, one of the major reasons for such perception is the suspicion that most of his traffic enforcers have not shed their systematic “kotong” habit. How else can anyone explain why they continue to look the other way when buses make a mess of Edsa, and jeepneys elsewhere make driving a living hell?  (As I write this letter, I hear on radio, for the umpteenth time, about a bunch of jeepneys causing traffic jams on secondary roads that their drivers have converted into their terminals as inutile enforcers just make “kaway-kaway.”)

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Orbos admitted that there are, indeed, scalawags among his men, but he cannot be expected to go around all over Metro Manila to check on them 24/7. He urged the public to “furnish (him) reports and/or documents supporting the accusation.” To be sure, that is the dumbest thought he could possibly entertain. On the contrary, we expect him to stay put at the “command center,” watching the CCTVs and barking orders to his people on the ground to clear choke points wherever they develop, given—to be charitable about it—their lack of initiative to use their own common sense. Unless, of course, those monitoring gadgets are so substandard (due again to kickbacks) showing nothing that he feels compelled to go to the sites himself or, infinitely worse, no one listens to him—then tough luck. If he resigns, he will not be missed.

What’s our point?  It really sounds like a broken record already but it’s unarguably the thing to do first and foremost: Enforce strict discipline among bus and jeepney drivers by coming down harder on traffic enforcers in their respective areas of concern for sleeping on the job.  How difficult could it be for the MMDA to pinpoint responsibility? All it needs is “res ipsa loquitur” (the free-for-all gridlocks seen on CCTVs speak for themselves) without need of “reports and/or documents.”  That is the most egregious barometer of how seriously the MMDA wants to fulfill its mandate. Get this done and every Tom, Dick and Harry on the wheel will start toeing the line.

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STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, [email protected]

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TAGS: letter, Letter to the Editor, MMDA, opinion, Thomas M. Orbos, traffic, Transportation
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