Enforcing ‘walang wangwang’

Enforcing ‘walang wangwang’

/ 04:35 AM April 15, 2024

Many were furious last week over the unauthorized use of the Edsa bus lane by individuals ranging from politician Chavit Singson and his convoy to a “family member” of Sen. Chiz Escudero driving a vehicle with protocol plates and a woman who claimed she was “a military” to justify her telling off traffic enforcers.

These violators wanted to avoid the Edsa gridlock and felt entitled to use the bus carousel lane dedicated to authorized buses and on-duty ambulances, fire trucks, and emergency response vehicles, a slap in the face of long-suffering motorists who have had to endure hours in monstrous traffic in Metro Manila.

Amsterdam-based TomTom International BV, a multinational traffic data provider, ranked the capital as the worst among the world’s metro areas in 2023, showing Filipino motorists spent an average of 25 minutes and 30 seconds to travel 10 kilometers. That is equivalent to losing 117 hours in traffic for the whole year.


Because of such traffic congestion that causes inordinate delays in the movement of people and cargo, the country’s economic output was slashed by P2.4 billion a day as of 2014. With no meaningful reduction in traffic congestion in the next 10 years, one can only conclude that the economic toll would be higher today.


Filipinos had indeed long been clamoring for solutions and actions to solve the traffic mess but the situation had only gotten progressively worse, as most workers have gone back to their offices post-pandemic combined with steady growth in the economy.

President Marcos himself acknowledged that traffic was one of the biggest problems confronting Filipinos today. “Sadly, it’s been a part of every Filipino’s life, and the traffic in the Philippines is notorious all over the world,” he said in a vlog last week.

Bicycle lanes

At a traffic summit, Marcos laid out solutions including moving public office hours an hour earlier to 7 a.m., encouraging alternative work arrangements so that workers can stay in their homes and do not need to go to the office on certain days, among others.

His administration would likewise work on developing and improving mobility in nearby provinces such as Bulacan and Pampanga in the north and Laguna and Cavite in the south to decongest Metro Manila, although he did acknowledge this would take time.


The Marcos administration may also heed the advice of mobility groups to invest in systems that will allow faster movement of people, which means expedited work on the rail transits and the rail transit that had recently been closed for major overhaul as well as putting more bicycle lanes in Metro Manila.

Jeepney strike

Because of the lack of public transport, commuters continue to shift to private vehicles, thus the faster growth in the number of registered motor vehicles, further straining the already limited road space.


The Marcos administration also forged ahead with the consolidation of the public utility jeepneys that had already been delayed to the end of this month.

However, jeepney groups are scheduled to go on a nationwide jeepney strike today because precisely of the lingering issues on how to effect the transition.

As Sen. Grace Poe asked, were there substantial efforts over the three months to reach out to the drivers and operators to address their concerns about the loans and other financial aspects of the program eased?

‘Walang wangwang’ policy

“We hope that the LTFRB will release ahead of the deadline the list of routes with and without consolidated jeepneys. We can’t just leave our commuters scampering for rides, especially under this extreme heat,” said Poe.

Solving the traffic crisis indeed requires a mix of short and long-term solutions and in the meantime, Marcos appealed to commuters and motorists to exercise discipline and obey traffic laws to not add to traffic woes.

He has sent the message loud and clear to the people in the government by prohibiting public officials and personnel from using sirens, blinkers, and other similar signaling or flashing devices on the road, reminiscent of the “walang wangwang” policy that the late president Benigno S. Aquino III enforced during his administration.


The policy was warmly welcomed by the public and by the other leaders in government with Poe saying that government officials must be the first to shun abuse and the display of self-entitlement on the road.

“Pantay-pantay tayo dapat kahit sa kalsada. Ang byahe ng government officials ay kasing importante rin ng byahe ng ordinaryong mamamayan. Kung may wangwang, paano mararamdaman ng taga-gobyerno ang sakripisyo ng ating mga kababayan sa araw-araw na trapiko?” she said, “This simple rule on the wangwang ban should be enforced fairly and universally on the road.”

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Indeed, VIP officials with those intimidating special plates and people like Singson who feel their time is more precious than the rest of us should set the example of discipline and compliance with traffic rules.

TAGS: EDSA bus lane, Edsa gridlock

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