Traffic jams invade Ayala Alabang
Question: What street is worse than Edsa in traffic congestion? Answer: Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City during school days.
And the reason for the congestion is Ateneo de Manila University. There are two other schools on Katipunan—Miriam College and the University of the Philippines—but they don’t attract as much traffic as Ateneo.
In Mandaluyong, there is La Salle Greenhills. Vehicles unloading and loading students clog Ortigas Avenue. The rich kids also make Ortigas their private parking lot.
Passengers of buses and jeepneys, along with other motorists who pass through these two major thoroughfares, can only gnash their teeth in exasperation.
While Ortigas and Katipunan are public roads, traffic enforcers are mostly afraid and unwilling to tangle with the parents of the rich kids.
The Metro Manila Development Authority tried to remedy the Katipunan traffic jams by instituting traffic rules, but these do not do much good and sometimes make the congestion worse.
The surefire remedy, as I see it, is to construct a flyover leading to the Ateneo campus—but at the expense of the university because it would be for the benefit of the school and its students. There is plenty of space on campus for parking. Taxpayers have already spent billions of pesos to ease the traffic congestion caused by Ateneo.
Note that UP on Katipunan and the University of Santo Tomas on España do not create traffic jams because they have plenty of space on campus for parking.
I do not know what can be done for Ortigas Avenue, where La Salle Greenhills is located, except to open its gates to allow vehicles waiting for students to park inside.
De la Salle has also created a problem in Ayala Alabang. It is primarily a residential subdivision, but a number of schools, the biggest of which is De La Salle-Zobel (DLSZ), were allowed to locate inside.
The influx of vehicles of students living outside the subdivision creates traffic jams like those on Edsa. Imagine the irony: Residents of Ayala Alabang are those fleeing the concrete jungle and traffic congestion in Metro Manila. They thought living in their village would give them plenty of open space and fresh air. They thought wrong. The traffic jams and smog have followed them inside the village.
The Ayala Alabang Village Association tried to remedy the situation by imposing a color-coding scheme on vehicles using the narrow streets. But apparently, DLSZ officials—including a particularly imperious one, it is said—opposed the scheme. They used the names of students as complainants and were able to secure a temporary restraining order from a court. The imperious official has supposedly even threatened to tell the students not to come to school when the TRO expires in 20 days.
If this is true, DLSZ officials are using blackmail, refusing to admit that they are to blame when students miss their classes because of the traffic jams. Now they want the students to boycott classes in order to oppose a scheme intended to ease the traffic jams inside the village.
That would be like the MMDA asking single-car families to stop sending their children to school during their turn at number-coding. Who would be the loser? Wouldn’t it be the school and the students?
In the short time after Pope Francis visited the Philippines, DLSZ officials seem to have already forgotten his admonition that church people should set the example and not to be too preoccupied with material wealth.
Education is supposed to be a nonprofit enterprise. That is why it is tax-exempt. But what is this we hear that DLSZ is raking in huge profits—to the tune of P800 million last year? DLSZ is engaged in a whirlwind expansion of the school, with nonstop construction work going on from Monday to Saturday, extending to the early evening.
DLSZ inside Ayala Alabang was originally intended to serve only the residents of the village. It has also promised to limit its student population to 4,000. Records at DLSZ show, however, that in school year 2014-2015, it has 4,188 students, 78 percent of whom are nonresidents.
Its claim that it is fighting for the public good has no basis because Ayala Alabang is a gated community without any egress to any other place in Muntinlupa. You enter through one gate and you leave through that same gate.
Why DLSZ does not want to give the color-coding scheme a try is puzzling. Ayala Alabang’s narrow roads just cannot accommodate the vehicles of its 3,000 nonresident students.
Under the color-coding scheme, the 1,787 vehicles of the school’s nonresident students would be assigned either a white sticker allowing entry into the village on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or a green sticker for entry on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The scheme is intended to encourage carpooling and the use of school buses. Residents of Ayala Alabang have the right to bring back order inside their community through this ordinance.
The educators of DLSZ should be educated that its welfare should be balanced with the welfare of its host community. If DLSZ cannot abide by the rules of its host, then it should feel free to pack up and leave.
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