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Palace: Give driver-only Edsa ban a chance

House members join clamor, mull suit vs MMDA traffic measure
/ 06:25 AM August 17, 2018

DRY RUN Traffic constables on Thursday monitor a stretch of Edsa in Quezon City for violations of the driver-only ban, also known as the High-Occupancy Vehicle scheme. —JAM STA ROSA

Amid mounting complaints from affected motorists, traffic experts and some lawmakers, Malacanñang called on the public to be patient and wait for the results of the weeklong dry run of the ban on driver-only vehicles on Edsa during rush hour.

“So let’s give it a chance. We’re exploring everything to find a solution to the traffic problem,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday.

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Roque said President Duterte was no micromanager, that’s why he just allowed Cabinet members to implement their respective programs so long as these do not violate laws.

In testing the ban, Roque said, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) hoped to reduce the number of vehicles in the city’s busiest highway while encouraging carpooling and offering motorists a way to reduce their fuel expenses.

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He noted that countries like the United States have a similar scheme wherein express lanes are reserved for vehicles with a minimum of two passengers.

Still, House members on Thursday added to the clamor against the measure, which the MMDA started to implement on Wednesday, with violators only being given a verbal warning.

Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, vice chair of the House committee on transportation, said the MMDA should first consider synchronizing the flow of buses plying Edsa since their undisciplined drivers remain the “biggest culprits” behind the daily congestion.

While Edsa traffic may ease up because of the ban, other streets would definitely absorb the volume of vehicles, thus widening the area of the gridlock, Sarmiento said.

“So instead of having a traffic problem only on Edsa, we will have traffic everywhere, even in the outlying barangay roads,” he said. “Without any alternate mode of transport, our so-called singles will continue using their vehicles even with this ban. This means that we will not reduce the volume of vehicles but we would just send them elsewhere.”

Minority lawmakers criticized the plan for being shortsighted, adding that the MMDA was courting a lawsuit.

“Banning single drivers is a temporary solution and may be declared unconstitutional as it unduly restricts property rights without due process,” Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said.

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Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said driver-only lanes, flexible working hours, carpool lanes, strict bus lanes, even banning motorcycles in Edsa were mere “palliative measures” that will not work “because the situation is just too calamitous and requires drastic solutions.”

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said he would file a resolution to oppose the policy since it was depriving private citizens of the right to use motor vehicles. — WITH REPORTS FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO AND JEROME ANING

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TAGS: car ban, driver-only ban, Edsa, Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine News
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