Because of traffic congestion Alex Bote, the DPWH project manager of the Lacson flyover announced that by late 2016 construction will start along Lacson Ave. As I have mentioned I am against it for the following reasons.
First, the flyover is a stop gap solution for a much serious problem the local government needs to address;
Second, of all institutions it should be the local government, in fact the national government, who should oppose the proposed construction in order to protect educational institutions and national heritage sites;
Third, there seems to be a prevalent disregard by the State regarding the welfare of its educational institutions.
First point. Traffic congestion did not happen overnight. In fact there are two powerful seats of power in Manila, Malacanang and Manila city hall, for the city of Manila to be caught surprised by its present dismal traffic situation. Have communications between them closed that neither was aware of the trajectory of the other’s past and current decisions?
It is not only within a year that the citizens of Manila complained about its traffic situation. It spans decades. Back in the 1990s Lawton’s traffic never moved by 5PM. Everyone knew that. Having spent four years of high school in Intramuros and commuting everyday to Sampaloc, it is quite unconvincing to even believe that the volume of cars is the primary culprit for street deadlocks. Traffic is a problem of management. People have not only expressed their utter dismay for a mismanaged Manila, but many even offered solutions, and very sound ones, to bring order to its streets. A multifaceted problem needs to be engaged in its complexity. Having lived in Manila since the 1980s I too have grown weary and suspicious of the same old assurance by government officials, “Ginawa na ho naming lahat, kaso ito talaga ang solusyong nakikita namin.” If doubts were raised the common reply would be, “E kung ayaw n’yo pong maniwala e pasensyahan na po tayo.”
The serious problem lies in this – the problem we are trying to address is known, with predictable consequences that can be addressed beforehand.
Jarius Bondoc’s article in the Philippine Star succinctly states “PH left far behind due to bad leaders.” The article features Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr.’s insights, a world renowned architect and urban-planner.
Sionil Jose’s interview with Palafox in 2015 provides us with a brief background of the architect, “He received a classical secondary education from the Christ the King Seminary when he was 13.He obtained his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Santo Tomas in 1972 and two years later, his MA in Environmental Planning from the University of the Philippines. In 2003, he graduated from an Advanced Management Developmental Program from Harvard.” This proves Palafox has got big time fans.
The following is an excerpt from Palafox’ impressions of our state of governance taken from Jarius Bondoc’s article:
“In 2003 I submitted to Harvard the ‘Manila Megalopolis 2020,’ a report that assumes a 30-million population. I’ve distributed this proposal with government leaders, written about it, and shared it with the media.
“Like with previous planning initiatives, it ended with the same government scenario: ‘Do Nothing.’
“Now we have catastrophic traffic, flooding, no adequate preparations for disasters.”
It is tempting to put the blame on city engineers, but bureaucracy must have tied their hands to fully implement their projects or proposals, as Palafox attests to: “Most of the decisions made in the built environment are done by politicians and lawyers. Architects, engineers, urban planners, urban designers, environmental planners are usually not consulted and are often not involved in plans for the built environment by government.”
What do I mean then of serious problems besides what have been stated above. The problem with Manila is it thinks in isolation when it comes to solving its traffic and flood problems. This is true of many cities: Manila tries to solve its own problem, Quezon city does the same and so on. We must think integrally. We must think geographically. Manila is just part of a whole geography. Traffic, like flooding, involves Quezon city, Laguna, Navotas, Caloocan etc.; thus taking into account the integrity of geography to solve traffic and floods is a fundamental consideration. They have to create an integrated sewage system and integrated traffic schemes.
The kind of mentality our government officials so staunchly perpetuate would always lead to short term stop-gap solutions. In Sampaloc alone we complain of constant drilling of streets, constant elevation of streets and many kinds of questionable constructions. And these happen year round! Consider the amount of money being wasted on streets being drilled which everyone knows are in good condition. We even have money to construct useless footbridges. We have money. But where is the plan?
Constructing a flyover over Lacson must be seen from a context. That context is constitutive of corruption, incompetence, compounding problems as results of bad decisions in the past and the failure to rectify the malpractices behind bad decisions.
The proliferation of these kinds of constructions will ultimately choke Manila.
Bondoc, Jarius. ”Gotcha: Phl left far behind due to bad leaders,” The Philippine Star, February 5, 2016
Jose, F. Sionil. “Hindsight: Felino A. Palafox Jr.: Visionary architect.” The Philippine Star. March 21, 2015.