What the HPG proved

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

The PNP-HPG or Highway Patrol Group has certainly lived up to their billing as the formidable and to be feared law enforcers of Philippine highways even along the lawless corridor known as EDSA. They’ve managed to make an embarrassment of the inutile MMDA and have shown everyone how traffic management is done in a matter of 72 hours.

But beyond the realms of traffic management, the Highway Patrol Group proved many things, a number of which many of us already knew or suspected but were constantly denied or ignored by the authorities and people concerned. The HPG proved that traffic laws are not applied equally and fairly. The HPG proved that contrary to the claims of LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez, EDSA is still a playground for so many colorum buses. The HPG proved that many Mayors have been doing nothing about the traffic problem in Metro Manila except to give lip service. At the top of the list are the Mayors of Quezon City, Pasay, Makati, Manila, Taguig and Parañaque and Mandaluyong. The HPG proved that illegal terminals along EDSA and parallel to EDSA are protected by LGUs and MMDA traffic enforcers. The HPG proved that “Kung gusto may paraan, kung ayaw maraming dahilan” (Where there’s a will – there’s a way) for the MMDA. The HPG “experiment” also proved that Filipinos will cooperate, will obey and will believe in a plan or a solution if those implementing the plan or solution do so to the full letter of the law. Finally the HPG also proved that Metro Manila needs an elected Governor to place the house and all its Mayors in order and in line.

We’ve all known or suspected that traffic laws only applied to private vehicles and not public transportation. You have to be blind not to see how the MMDA and various traffic enforcers working for various LGUs in Metro Manila ignore or exempt jeepneys, buses and tricycles from being arrested. We’ve all known that illegal Jeepney terminals along EDSA and parallel to EDSA such as the one at the intersection of Taft and EDSA in Pasay, the EDSA-Guadalupe loop, and even the one on Boni Avenue – EDSA are all adding to the traffic on EDSA but are not being shut down because someone is paying someone for protection.

So after three days on EDSA, the Highway Patrol Group has proven beyond doubt that illegal terminals and jeepneys using EDSA as their loading bay can be stopped. This proves that contrary to their claims, the MMDA did not do their job but was merely giving the public lip service. All this time Tolentino would excuse the MMDA as being merely a coordinating body at the mercy of Mayors. If they wanted to they could have solved the problem a long time ago, but the only time Tolentino really moved was when people started actively calling for his resignation. So thanks to the HPG we now know that Tolentino and the MMDA were never desperate enough until we all got angry enough. The HPG has proven beyond doubt that Francis Tolentino MUST resign.

Of course we’ve all known that illegal vendors all pay “tribute” to some tong collector for some barangay official or local cop, which explains why public markets such as Balintawak, Divisoria, Nepa Q Mart are infested with illegal vendors like those occupying EDSA. No one can kick them out because they paid for protection so all this talk about “awa” or mercy or compassion coming from the likes of Vice Mayor Isko Moreno is simply lip service. The ones they should pity are the legitimate store owners who pay rent or real estate taxes to the city government but find their store fronts blocked by illegal street vendors.  What the HPG has shown is that when you take the politicians out of the picture Metro Manila can be managed one step at a time!

After three days, the HPG managed to clear up the EDSA Balintawak market frontage that was constantly causing traffic. The HPG proved that Mayor Herbert Bautista never really had the political will or desire to clean up the area and was also using lip service and bull shit every time he would lament the incorrigible traffic enforcers and traffic violators. The illegal vendors got their way and controlled the EDSA side in front of Balintawak market because they were untouchables because they too paid tribute.

As mayor of the biggest city in Metro Manila, Herbert Bautista should have been more proactive in finding solutions, but just like Tolentino it is now clear that commerce takes precedence to mobility and commuters in Quezon City. Imagine, it took the HPG to reroute the buses out of EDSA and into C-5. Ironically, Bautista would not even jump in to clear P. Tuason for the buses and sat back to watch things unfold. After years of putting up with the comedian mayor of Quezon City, even his former colleagues in ABS CBN particularly DZMM have started to ridicule Bautista as a do nothing late riser who’s more concerned with his career than running Quezon City properly. Bistek may think he has political Teflon but sooner or later he may find himself confronted with his romantic past and the fact that he is an elected official and not just his executive failures.

As far as mayors go, Taguig’s chief executive may soon be in the media radar as people start to talk about the C-5 service road which has become a private parking lot, dumping ground for junk yards and work area for repair shops. Whether or not it is under the supervision and control of the mayor’s office, the fact that nothing proactive has been heard from the mayor’s office regarding the service road will ultimately backfire to the mayor. C-5 has become the new hell and things could be better if Taguig’s traffic enforcers and managers simply took control of the situation to discipline motorists passing through their domain while making sure roads are accessible and passable.

If Pasay City nurtures some ill reputation, it would have to be the constant complain that the traffic enforcers are corrupt and never around when needed.

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