Political will is not as huge as seven billion pesos

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

If we should consider the term advocacy to mean defense or promotion of a cause or proposal, then mine is a personal advocacy, to help solve our terrible traffic problem. I have written several times in the past about my dismay on experiencing horrible road travel delays. It is therefore understandable that the news about the need for our government to spend seven billion pesos to remedy our road woes attracted my attention. It hit on the same page as my concern only that it differed from my ordinary man's idea.

Our government has to meet the problem with "hammers and tongs" to use a favorite line of Talisay City Mayor-elect Eduardo R. Gullas. But our government leaders may not need that huge amount to tackle the problem. If I may suggest, they use what many call as "political will." It will not cost much.

Here are the first two parts of my five-headed idea. It will affect the high and the mighty of Philippine economy. It is not new because, as I said, I have been pounding on this issue for the last twenty years. It is quite simple a thought, but maybe because of its simplicity, it has not gained the attention of our brilliant leaders. I just hope that this time, it may be worth the while of our distinguished senators and congressmen.

Limit car ownership. The rich families will be the ones affected. They will not relish the idea that their privileges get curtailed somehow. But if we take a quick tour during the late evening hours at the plush villages we have in our suburbs we will never miss the sight. On the garages of our millionaire brothers' mansions, we can see fleets of cars. Eight to ten cars are parked on some garages. Most parking lots have four to seven units.

Imagine if, on daytime, these motor vehicles are driven at the same time. We admit that the father goes to work in a chauffeur driven SUV. The mother too goes about her social life in a separate car while their children, those already employed, travel separately to their work places in still other vehicles while those studying hop into another unit. What amount of combined road space do eight to ten cars, running at the same time, occupy? To be graphic about it, why not line up ten cars on the side of a road?

It is going to be difficult to pass a law limiting families to owning say four cars. Rich people wield tremendous influence on thousands of voters. The wealthy families are by themselves in position to direct "command votes." Their support can be the difference between winning and losing elections. These are the very men and women who will call on our lawmakers to desist any attempt to limit car ownership per family and such a call is quite impossible to refuse.

But our senators and congressmen must think about the interest of the greater part of our society. When a certain statute takes away from the road the extra cars of rich families, it immediately increases the road space available for other vehicles, most of them are used by commuting citizens.

My second idea. Let there be a law that discourages, not prohibits, possession and use of aged vehicles. I define "aged" as in cars that are ten years old and trucks in excess of fifteen years. Oh, these are arbitrary figures that the learned men around us can give more educated calculations.

One way to discourage ownership of these vehicles is to increase the annual registration fees. For instance, a car that has been existing between ten and fifteen years has to be registered with fees in amounts double than the average. Triple is the registration fee for cars aged 15-20 years. This frame of thought but of different brackets has to be applied to trucks running for 15 to 20 years and more.

It must however be stipulated that there shall be no more transfers of ownerships of aged vehicles from one person to another. The registered owner of the vehicle in the tenth year of registration of his car shall not be allowed to sell it to another person. If he does not intend to use it anymore, let him discard it as a junk or as a museum piece.

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