With transport groups protesting possible second term, Tugade says DOTr 'delivered'

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
With transport groups protesting possible second term, Tugade says DOTr 'delivered'
Commuters spill into Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City as they wait for alternative modes of public transport during a jeepney strike yesterday.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Despite transport and commuter groups protesting his rumored re-appointment, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade claimed Monday that his department "delivered" during the six years of the Duterte administration as he urged Filipinos to support the incoming administration. 

Though President Rodrigo Duterte promised to deal with the metro's traffic problem within six months, those in the transport sector say the past six years only worsened the problems they were facing. Duterte eventually chalked the unfinished works up to lack of time.

"Never before in the history of this country has the DOTr done so much in so short of time. I have to be proud notwithstanding COVID-19, earthquakes...this is the legacy of President Duterte," Tugade said in Filipino during the first day of the Duterte Legacy Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center.

"We may not have solved all the transport problems in the [past] 6 years. But for the ones we weren't able to do, please also accept that we have addressed many...I just hope you will pray and help the coming administrations to continue this project," Tugade also said in mixed Filipino and English.

READ: MMDA says Metro Manila traffic may breach pre-pandemic level by June

Tugade added that the Metro Manila Subway is still expected to continue under the incoming administration, with funds already prepositioned care of the Department of Finance and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. 

READ: Summer rains highlight transport problems unaddressed during pandemic

It was under the Duterte administration that the Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 completed its full rehabilitation. According to the DOTr, this resulted in faster operating speed, less travel time, and swift headway. 

Tugade also brought up the 563-kilometer bike lane networks constructed in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

"Happy na happy ang mga bikers...this is not just a good mode of transport but also a safe one," Tugade claimed. 

However, the biking community has said that while the largely rudimentary bike lanes are a good start in terms of coverage, many still feel unsafe traversing the metro's hectic roads, which still see mostly car-centric policies and enforcement. 

READ: The Road Ahead: Bike lanes a good start but more infra, policy changes needed

He did not concede that other promised rail infrastructure projects are still in the works. The outgoing, and possibly incoming transport chief instead railed off fresh promises anew in the name of the "Duterte legacy" public relations campaign:

  • LRT-1 Cavite Extension to be partially operational by 2024
  • MRT-7 to be partially operational by 2022 
  • Common Station (Unified Grand Central Station) to be partly operational by 2022
  • PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban to Malolos) partially operational by 2025
  • PNR Bicol partially operational by 2025
  • Mindanao Railway Project partially operational by 2025
  • Metro Manila Subway partial operations targeted for "2025/2026"

"It goes to show that the infrastructure program of President Duterte is not bounded (sic.) by political color. We all know what Bicol is like, but today we see how the rails and international airport will be constructed there," Tugade also said, referencing Bicol's strong support for Vice President Leni Robredo, the de facto leader of the opposition. 

"The Department of Transportation has accomplished much more than a ten-minute presentation [can show.]"

Earlier, the Stop and Go Transport Coalition warned commuters that the current public transportation crisis would possibly worsen under the incoming administration.

Transport groups have said that the symptoms of the unsolved transport crisis in Metro Manila are beginning to show once more with some industries requiring their workers to return on-site. 



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