Firm, but not heartless

Six years of road closure is not temporary by any standard. Still, we’d find a way to get over this challenge and every other challenge that will arise from the subway project.

September 12, 2022

A man who climbed atop a billboard in the southbound lane of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue late Saturday evening snarled traffic for an hour as rescuers tried to make him stop trying to fly away from this world.

Just another day for the quick-response team, whose members blocked the passage of vehicles so they can position their catching equipment and also spare the public from witnessing what could have been a harrowing sight.

Drug-addled or depressed? Who knows? The man merited mention on a cable news network’s website and that’s that. Such are the stresses and psychological challenges people face now that many seem to be already numb to such happenings.

The traffic jam, however, was horrendous, although trapped motorists and commuters simply gritted their teeth through it. That’s how Filipinos are — resilient like the bamboo, but not immune to breaking points or tipping over.

Speaking of unnecessary stresses, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority should reconsider pronto its decision to remove the exception from the numbers-coding scheme previously granted to persons with disability and senior citizens.

The MMDA reasoned out that since the expanded scheme — from 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. — has window hours, from 10:01 a.m. to 4:59 p.m. – then the erstwhile privilege given to seniors and PWD can be scrapped.

That’s inconsiderate of the MMDA as both PWDs and seniors are mobility challenged already to be saddled with the coding scheme. As we, as a people, try to rebound from the pandemic, there should be enough room for each one of us to be extra understanding; ditto with government agencies.

When faced with people seemingly on the edge, like in packed buses and trains, a little empathy on what problems others may be facing should go a long way. De-escalation skills can also come in handy as we see more people go out and the pre-pandemic rat race resumes.

Road rage incidents are once again making the news, and it would just be a matter of time before we read about such encounters turning fatal — senseless and totally preventable from spinning out of control.

On that matter of the Supreme Court issuing a temporary restraining order on the non-contact apprehension scheme in ticketing traffic violators, it’s only proper for the local government units and the MMDA to ask the Land Transportation Office to lift the flags on motorists previously issued traffic violation tickets.

While they await a final SC decision on the traffic violation tagging scheme that uses closed-circuit TV cameras, it’s understandable that the LGUs and the MMDA are fielding more traffic enforcers.

We just hope that they do not issue traffic violation tickets indiscriminately to cover lost revenues from the TROed non-contact scheme and to earn commissions from the tickets issued.

Again, the government must be firm but must not be heartless. It must strike a balance in dealing with people who had been emotionally scarred by Covid-19 and are trying to survive.

Case in point is the impending closure of portions of both the north and southbound directions of Meralco Avenue starting next month and — hold your breath — until 2028 to pave the way for the construction of the Metro Manila Subway Project.

Construction may temporarily inconvenience motorists and commuters, according to the Department of Transportation, but six years of road closure is not temporary by any standard. Still, we’d find a way to get over this challenge and every other challenge that will arise from the subway project.

A project that will provide us yet another alternative mass transport option is always welcome. So, those passing by Meralco Avenue, like those from Rizal province, start gritting your teeth. While at it, take deep breaths, like that’s even possible through gnashing teeth.

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