There’s a new sheriff in town
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2019 - 12:00am

Sledgehammer, ‘maso’ (mallet), or acetylene? Take your pick. This is how container trucks without trailer heads left at the “No Parking” areas in the city of Manila will be dealt with when Manila Mayor-elect Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso takes over the helm of City Hall starting office hours on Monday, July 1. And for those who defy this warning despite prior notices, the new sheriff in town would not think twice to handcuff the owners and drivers of these illegally parked vehicles.

This situation calls for strong arm tactics to put law and order on these blatant disregard of “No Parking” regulations that have largely worsen the traffic woes in the streets and roads of Manila.

“We can use sledgehammer, maso or acetylene. I will use acetylene to remove your trucks. We will consider your trucks as obstructions,” Mayor-elect Domagoso warned.

Promising to be just and fair in the discharge of his duties and functions once he assumes his powers as Mayor of Manila, Domagoso disclosed how he would follow due process. He promised to go the length of personally filing petitions before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to cancel the franchise of public utility vehicles (PUVs) that turn the streets and roads into their own terminal. 

He cited the General Welfare clause of Section 16 of the Local Government Code of the Philippines that stated it is the obligation of the Mayor to ensure the public welfare and interest of the people.

“Gusto kong ayusin ang Maynila,” the incoming Mayor stressed. “I cannot do it alone so, in all humility, we are giving you notice to give you enough time to get rid of these obstructions out of the streets and our roads,” he urged.

Domagoso made this impassioned appeal during our Kapihan sa Manila Bay breakfast news forum at Café Adriatico in Remedios Cirle in Malate. He revealed several of the key priority programs he intends to implement during the next three years of his watch of City Hall.

Being Mayor is nothing new for the 44-year-old Domagoso because he served as “acting” Mayor whenever erstwhile Mayor Alfredo Lim would be out of the country. Subsequently, he won his third and last term as vice mayor as running mate of former president and now outgoing Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

The topic of trucks took much of our conversation with Domagoso at Kapihan sa Manila Bay that started with the accident last Sunday of an alleged overweight gravel truck that crushed down a boxed drainage culvert at the intersection of Remedios Street and Roxas Boulevard.

Although the damaged drainage belongs to the Department of Public Works and Highways, Domagoso believes the city government must reintegrate itself with the national government to make sure these roads in the city are safe for use. “It is also our obligation to ensure the safety of motorists on the road,” Domagoso added.

Since the city roads and streets could not be expanded any further without getting into right-of-way problems, Domagoso conceded, the city government could only improve upon traffic management, starting with stricter enforcement of law and order in the streets and roads. 

He mentioned a study done by the Japan International Cooperation Agency that estimated the Philippines will lose P30 billion per day due to traffic congestion, largely in Metro Manila.

Born and raised in Tondo, he is very much aware of the shenanigans on the streets and roads that have been taking place around the city under the very noses of local government officials – from the barangay level and the traffic enforcers all the way up to the City Hall. Illegal parking, Domagoso pointed out, will not have thrived if there is no “kotong.”

Domagoso deplored that these illegal parking of trucks and the illegal terminals of UV express, buses and jeepneys in the city of Manila are being tolerated by crooked barangay chairmen and traffic enforcers who earn from “tong” and other extortion activities.

He rattled off the specific places in the city of Manila and called out the names of their respective barangay chairmen under whose jurisdictions such illegal terminals and illegally parked trucks thrived as well as those barangay halls put up along pedestrian walks and other obstacles that block the free flow of traffic.

“Can you read my mind? Read between the lines.  I want to fix Manila. I cannot do it alone,” Domagoso called out the concerned barangay officials in Manila.

The illegal has become the normal in the city of Manila through these years, the Mayor-elect rued.

He, however, limited this in the past six years which noticeably falls within the two terms of his immediate predecessor. But Domagoso, after all, has been there also at City Hall through these years when he served as Vice Mayor of Manila for nine years (from 2007-2016)  – not to mention his stint as councilor from the first district of Tondo for three consecutive terms from 1998-2007. 

Was it because he still has ax to grind after a falling out with outgoing Manila Mayor Estrada? In public and in personal commitments, he claimed, Mayor Estrada supposedly promised he would only serve his first term for three years after which he would give way and support his vice mayor to run to succeed him at City Hall.

It turned out to be a broken promise. Domagoso thus instead run but lost in the May 2016 senatorial elections under the ticket of presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe who also lost the race to former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“That is water under the bridge. Let’s move on forward,” Domagoso told us. One cannot move forward if you carry too much baggage with you,” he pointed out.

“I want a harmonious government. Mayors like me come and go, but the institution stays. Do not test the government. In a civilized society and a civilized time, we must be governed by laws,” Domagoso explained.

That’s how the new sheriff in town walks the talk. While he vows to go tough on “No Parking” regulation, the Mayor-elect’s personal nicotine binge will have to contend with the strict “No Smoking” rule in public places around the city of Manila.

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