EDITORIAL - Metro Cebu traffic needs special attention

(The Freeman) - July 1, 2016 - 12:00am

Transportation secretary Arthur Tugade, interviewed on ANC recently, said he would definitely want emergency powers for himself to address the Metro Manila traffic crisis. He, however, qualified that he prefers to call such powers as "special" instead of "emergency." The most striking part of the interview, at least for Cebuanos, was the lack of mention of Cebu or any place else in the coverage of such powers.

Cebu, particularly Metro Cebu, has a budding traffic crisis of its own and unless matters are addressed soon enough, it may very well see a situation far worse than Metro Manila's. At least Metro Manila is part of the much larger island of Luzon. When people talk of decongesting Metro Manila, there are still a lot of places in Luzon to use for the decongestion.

Metro Cebu does not enjoy the same luxury. It sits in the middle of one of the slimmest and smallest islands in this archipelago of more or less 7,000 islands (there is now a debate on the actual number, thanks to China, climate change, and the demand for fine white sand resorts). If Metro Cebu feels the need to decongest itself, there is nowhere to decongest to.

A short time ago, there was a glimmer of hope when then incoming president Rodrigo Duterte's newly-appointed presidential assistant for the Visayas, Michael Dino, promised to propose the inclusion of Metro Cebu under the coverage of any emergency powers that Congess might grant to solve the traffic crisis in Metro Manila. Excluding the usual concerns about emergency powers, there was at least a general agreement that Metro Cebu's own looming traffic crisis needs a drastic solution.

But from what came out of Tugade's own mouth during the ANC interview, it appears that Metro Manila is his priority, at least as far as coverage of any special powers he might be granted. Maybe the one hour interview was too short for him to consider all the problem areas in the country that needs priority attention. Maybe the matter of Cebu just skipped his mind considering the many things he has to face. Besides, he was not asked as the interview focused on Metro Manila.

Anyway, the mere non-mention of Metro Cebu among Tugade's immediate targets for special powers attention, assuming he gets them, is not enough reason to despair. It does not follow that non-mention automatically means non-inclusion. Maybe it was just one of those things. Besides, Dino, as presidential assistant, does not report to Tugade but directly to Duterte.

However the proposal to include Metro Cebu in the coverage of any special powers to address traffic problems may stand at the moment, let it just be said that it is still too early to tell. The Duterte administration is still just a day old. Let us give the 16th president of the country some time to settle in. After giving Duterte a million votes, he certainly is not going to ignore the Cebuanos.


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