MMDA officials behind ARTSS liable for graft

MMDA’s ARTSS is an anomaly that compromises public safety, encourages corruption among traffic enforcers, and wastes public funds.

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic began, major street intersections in Metropolitan Manila utilized traffic lights equipped with digital countdown timers.

The timers were a boon to motorists because they provided drivers a practical means of calculating if they have enough time to cross an intersection before the traffic light turns red.

Vehicular collisions at road intersections are often caused by motorists who are unable to properly calculate how much time they have for crossing a particular intersection. Thus, the countdown timers actually contribute to road safety, because a motorist who knows he has little time left to cross an intersection can begin to decelerate as he approaches the intersection.

The countdown timers also tell motorists waiting for their turn to cross the intersection how much time they need to wait before getting the green light to do so. Driver anxiety is minimized, and the possibility of road rage is reduced.

In the days before the countdown timers, corrupt traffic enforcers feasted on motorists who miscalculated the number of seconds left before the traffic light turns red. The timers addressed that problem.

Indeed, those digital countdown timers are very useful to motorists. Installing those timers at major intersections was one very good idea on the part of the government.

Unfortunately, that good idea will be short-lived, thanks to the idiots currently running the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the government agency tasked to manage vehicular traffic throughout the metropolis.

Last 1 August, the MMDA’s Traffic Signal Operations and Maintenance Group chief Francisco Pesino Jr. confirmed that the agency will push through with its plan to do away with the countdown timers.

Pesino said that the countdown timers will be replaced with sensors operating under a so-called Adaptive Responsive Traffic Signal System. Those sensors will determine when traffic lights will turn green, yellow or red, depending on the volume of traffic at any particular time. According to Pesino, all countdown timers will be removed because they are incompatible with the ARTSS.

Because it will not use countdown timers, the ARTSS will force Metropolitan Manila to return to the dangerous and corruption-prone years when a motorist must guess how much time he has to be able to cross an intersection.

Days after Pesino spoke to the media, a certain Carlo Dimayuga III was designated as acting chairperson of the MMDA. Sadly, Dimayuga appears to have acquiesced in the ARTSS.

Evidently, officials of the MMDA are either stupid or corrupt.

The countdown timers are efficient devices that promote road safety. Why do they have to be replaced with the ARTSS in the first place?

Assuming that a new traffic signal system is really needed for Metropolitan Manila, why didn’t the MMDA get a system that can be used with the existing countdown timers?

Instead of promoting road safety and corruption-free motoring in the metropolis, the MMDA’s ARTSS will make intersections dangerous again, and will allow corrupt traffic enforcers to harass motorists anew.

Billions of pesos in public money were spent on the purchase of the countdown timers, and billions more are to be wasted on the MMDA’s ARTSS. Did anyone in the MMDA make money on this ARTSS?

More importantly, did the MMDA conduct a public bidding for the ARTSS?

What will happen to the countdown timers once they are discarded? Will they be declared “scrap” and sold to favored buyers? Who will profit from the disposal of the timers?

At the end of the day, the MMDA’s ARTSS is an anomaly that compromises public safety, encourages corruption among traffic enforcers, and wastes public funds.

Thus, MMDA officials behind ARTSS are guilty of causing undue injury to the government and the taxpayers, through the said officials’ manifest partiality, evident bad faith, and gross inexcusable negligence. That is enough reason why a group of taxpayers is currently contemplating filing a criminal case against those MMDA officials pursuant to the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

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