No parking, no illegal garaging
Many residents park on the streets because they do not have their own garages, or have other vehicles that would not fit in their garage. Others use their garage as a “bodega” for merchandise or household items. Neighborhood groceries also use the streets for delivery trucks. Restaurants that have no provisions for customer parking get those customers just the same, thanks to the public roads they end up using.
With President Duterte’s order to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año in his State of the Nation Address to reclaim public roads and sidewalks from obstructions, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) immediately issued a memorandum circular to this effect to all mayors and barangay chairpersons.
Illegal parking — garaging, actually — worsens the already heavy traffic and deprives workers, employees and students rushing to their work and schools the benefit of a smooth, safe and efficient commute. All this time, sidewalks have been expropriated for stalls, offices, additional rooms, dirty kitchens and what not. Meanwhile, poor vendors have had to make do selling their wares on the streets.
Upon receipt of the DILG memo, some enterprising barangay officials were quick to “invent,” without consulting their community, the “one-side” parking scheme, disregarding the clear message of the order that “no parking” is no parking, not “one-side parking.” Immediately, notices were printed and posted along the streets ordering residents to park their vehicles on one side from Day 1-15 and on the other from Day 16-30. Stickers for sale to residents who owned vehicles would allow them to park along any of the streets of the barangay without being accosted. How much did the posters and stickers cost? This scheme smacks of corruption.
What happens to compliant residents if a violator would park in front of the former’s house for two weeks in a month? Worse, owners of vehicles with stickers can just park on and use as a garage any free space. One resident I know whose frontage had been taken over by a pick-up truck, used for business by a neighbor, asked the help of the barangay personnel in charge of street clearing. The driver of the vehicle answered, “first come, first served.” The compliant resident then asked the help of law enforcers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). When they arrived, the owner of the pick-up immediately opened his garage and parked the vehicle inside, where merchandise supplies were stored.
Citizens do obey when the law is asserted. However, the space vacated after the pick-up was brought to its lawful place revealed pieces of empty plastic bags used for soft drinks, straws, sachets, bread wrappers. The same happens often in front of the adjacent property, which has no garage for those renting the apartments inside. Others even wash their vehicles on the road, or convert the road into auto repair shops.
Imagine how much havoc is generated in the metropolis alone, as illegal garaging also violates the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Water Act and the antilittering ordinance. These obstructions have also prevented fire trucks from getting to the scene of fires, or ambulances from rushing patients to the hospital.
This abusive, antipeople practice must be stopped. Secondary or barangay roads are arteries of bigger, heavily congested roads, and clearing them of illegally parked and garaged vehicles and other obstructions will help ease the traffic.
After the 60-day allowance for local government units to clear their roads, the DILG should buckle down to implement its order to the hilt, making sure that no corruption will again enter the picture, as seems already evident with the printing
of posters, sale of stickers and even the charging of fees for parking space, as some barangays are reportedly doing. MMDA officials have said that in at least two Metro Manila cities, there is no one-side parking at all times. If these cities can do it, why can’t the others? Again, the DILG order does not say “clear one side only.”
Greater consideration, however, should be afforded the poor vendors. Give them space, not on the sidewalk, but where they can reasonably continue to work and earn a decent livelihood. And protect them from “sidewalk syndicates.”
It’s time citizens respected their neighbors by returning public roads to the public.
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Joey C. Papa ([email protected]) is president of the Bangon Kalikasan Movement/Ecology Centers.
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