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Too late the senatorial heroes

“But where were the voices of many of these senators when their colleague and her committee kept on thumbing down the grant of emergency powers?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

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Where they hardly ever pushed for the speedy implementation of projects that would ease the traffic crisis and congestion being suffered daily by Metro Manilans, senators now urge government officials to focus their attention on speeding up the implementation of projects that would relieve the worsening traffic congestion and call for a stop to debates with the public on whether or not there is a transportation crisis.

Sen. Sonny Angara was quoted as saying that, “Transport crisis or not, the fact that thousands of commuters are having an extremely difficult time getting to their destinations should already prompt immediate action from the entire government.” He added that, “While some people are preoccupied with arguing on semantics, the students and employees are dealing with their daily struggle with how to get to work and school.”

Other senators called for the same speeding up of projects planned for implementation, while pushing for the revival of the Pasig River ferry project, claiming that it can be fully operational in a year.

Sen. Francis Tolentino also pushed for the same project and its expansion with additional terminals to serve more people. Others broached the idea of creating new cities or expanding existing ones outside the capital.

Vice President Leni Robredo’s “solution” to the traffic crisis was to urge the government not to shrug off the transportation crisis, especially in Metro Manila, saying that the first step to solving it is to acknowledge it is a major problem.

Robredo slammed presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo for his commuter stunt, saying that unlike Panelo who took the challenge only once, ordinary Filipinos go through difficult commutes every day.

One wonders if Leni even bothers to go through the difficult commute employees go through each day. She probably even travels in an air-conditioned car followed by her bodyguards, yet she tries to portray herself as bleeding for poor Filipino commuters when she offers no solution either. She merely claims that the government refuses to admit that there is a transportation crisis.

“What is sad is when a public official says there is no crisis. Because when you say that, you won’t do anything, because for you, there’s no problem…. The first thing before taking action is to admit that there’s a major problem,” Leni was quoted as saying. She forgot the fact that this administration has looked at the transport and traffic congestion crisis at the start of the Duterte presidency, while the opposition didn’t lift a finger to pressure Congress to push for and speed up the grant of emergency powers.

The problem is that such projects suggested earlier by some of the senators also would take a lot longer. However, it has to be asked — Just who created such a horrendous traffic congestion that could have been solved with the early grant of emergency powers close to three years ago, when the projects could have easily pushed through?

Still, this Pasig River “ferry project” solution is hardly going to ease the traffic congestion while awaiting the completion of the big-ticket infrastructure projects, such as the Skyway extension, the MRT and LRT line expansions and the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways. The way it all looks, senators appear to be always delayed in their reactions to whatever problems the nation faces, considering the fact that the horrendous traffic situation being experienced daily has been complained of almost daily by suffering Metro Manilans.

The truth is that, with the traffic congestion created, the delay in the implementation of big-ticket projects hardly ever got the attention of the senators. It is only now that these same senators are calling for all sorts of moves to ease the traffic congestion. Probably these urgings or suggestions have come about only because the transport crisis has been the focus of media attention, where even the stupid no-transport-crisis challenge made it to the banner stories of newspapers.

But where were the voices of many of these senators when their colleague and her committee kept on thumbing down the grant of emergency powers that were precisely requested by the Palace to speed up the implementation of big-ticket projects to ease the traffic congestion?

Why weren’t they pressuring their colleague to grant those emergency powers, which certainly would have made it faster for government to implement these big-ticket projects that would probably have helped ease the worsening traffic situation being experienced today, which has even transformed usually polite and gracious Filipinos into masters at cussing at times.

That was close to three years ago, when the Palace sought the grant of emergency powers from the Senate. Had emergency powers been granted then, by now the traffic congestion would have been alleviated considerably, which was really the solution to the problems being experienced today, while other transport projects also could have been started early.

However, hardly any senator pushed or pressured the senator and her committee who were then merely sitting on the problem and waiting for government officials to beg for the emergency grant, while insisting that the deteriorating traffic conditions being suffered daily by Metro Manilans would be just a matter of traffic management. To date, however, the senator has not even suggested one traffic management solution without resorting to emergency powers.

Senators are much to blame for not seeing and attending to the problem long before the traffic and commuter problems deteriorated.

It’s a bit late for these senators to act the traffic/commuter problems heroes!

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