Manila’s congested streets could apparently use scores of additional pedicabs despite complaints from motorists.
Reelectionist Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim on Friday started distributing pedicabs to residents under the city government’s Boundary-Hulog Program, a livelihood initiative launched last year that allows beneficiaries to pay for the vehicles in small daily installments.
In a program that saw him releasing a batch of 40 units in District 5, Lim explained that his decision to allow pedicabs—as well as sidewalk vendors—in the city was driven by “humanitarian reasons” and acknowledged that it was being used against him by his political rivals.
Indeed, the camp of former President Joseph Estrada, Lim’s lone challenger in next month’s elections, questioned the latter’s timing.
“It’s vote-buying, nothing more, nothing less, because it’s being done during the campaign period, even if the project was launched last year,” said Isko Moreno, the incumbent vice mayor and Estrada’s running mate.
“The Commission on Elections should motu propio (on its own) disqualify Lim if he’s caught in the act. Otherwise, we can file the necessary case in court to have him disqualified,” Moreno added.
At Friday’s turnover program at San Andres Sports Complex, Lim said the program was started last year but the background checking for qualified recipients was finished only last month.
He said he could silence his critics if the Boundary-Hulog beneficiaries would strictly follow traffic regulations.
“If all of you would just follow the rules, then my political rivals would have nothing to say against me,” he told the gathering in Filipino.
The proliferation of pedicabs or kuliglig not only in Manila but in other cities in the capital has long been drawing complaints from motorists, especially those using narrow inner streets.
But these cheap foot-powered transport are usually most useful to commuters taking short trips and during flash floods when streets are rendered impassable to regular vehicles.
On Wednesday, the Manila city government also awarded 34 pedicab units to qualified residents in the Tondo area. A total of 240 pedicabs will be distributed in Manila’s six districts.
Under the program, the recipient will pay P100 a day to the city government for four months or until he acquires full ownership. The money collected will then be used to buy more units for other beneficiaries.