Why Metro Manila needs a governor

August 20, 2014

I know, I know, we have enough politicians as it is and the thought of adding one more is as welcoming as a colonoscopy, but hear me out.

As much as I adore my city of birth, let’s face it, Metro Manila is about as organized as a South American soccer stadium stampede. And the biggest problem basically comes down to the fact that, over population aside, it is made up of 17 competing egos. If we could elect just one ego to oversee it, by sheer math alone, we’d be at least 16 times better off, wouldn’t you agree?

I may be over simplifying it, but in theory, having one office that has the power to over rule a city mayor for the greater good of the entire metro area has its benefits. Think about it. We could start by implementing a unified vehicular volume reduction program (UVVRP) that prohibits the use of your car for one day of the week. Some would argue that we already have that, and they would be right, but the problem is, there’s nothing unified about it.

As it is, the MMDA, which is actually the office that is supposed to function as the governor’s office, implements a coding system that basically prohibits the use of your vehicle for from 7am to 10am and then again at 3pm to 7pm once a week. The republic of Makati, Malabon and Las Pinas, however, do not recognize the window from 10am-3pm, while good old Pasig makes up its own window from 9am-4pm just for fun.

Then there’s Pasay City. They implement their own coding scheme except on the following roads: Ninoy Aquino Avenue, MIA Road, Domestic Road, Portions (?) of Airport Road, Sales Road, Tramo and presumably any street where the wind blows north westerly. EDSA, C5, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal Avenue, Roxas Blvd (Pasay) have window hours  of 10am-3pm regardless of the city, but to this day, there’s no mention of the South Super Highway.

Thankfully Taguig no longer has coding––depending of course on what street you’re on. A classic example of this is at the entrance to EDSA when coming in from Kalayaan Avenue in the Fort. Just before the foot of the flyover that leads to the Southbound lanes of EDSA and the right hand turn into the Northbound lanes, you may notice two Makati traffic cops (MAPSA) in their yellow and brown uniforms. Apparently they are standing on the 2.5 square meters in between Taguig and EDSA that belongs to the no-coding-window of Makati. It is literally a ‘boundary line’, but unless you can do a ‘Dukes of Hazard’ jump over them, there’s no way to legally go from Kalayaan avenue to EDSA without getting busted.

And if you think that’s confusing, wait till you hear about the truck ban. With every city implementing different hours, roads and conditions, it’s no wonder our ports are congested. Because trying to move goods around the Metro without getting nabbed by a contradicting ordinance is becoming more and more like a scene out of a movie where the bank robber needs to spray smoke to contort his way around the laser beams to make it to the vault.

Then there’s the traffic enforcement. Each city has different penalties, different ordinances, and because they have this myopic view, are all in clear violation of RA 4136 every time they confiscate your license––which opens up a pandoras box of legal implications should someone have the energy to file a test case with the Supreme Court. Say, for example, you are pulled over in Makati. The MAPSA takes your license. They issue your with a ticket. But that piece of paper is not recognized by Pasay because, well, that’s all it is. You are now technically driving without license, which is a violation you have been forced by your own government to commit.

And unless we have one office acting in the interests of the greater good of the entire Metro Manila, this chaos will continue to get worse as cities keep throwing their garbage over the neighbors fence.


About the Author

James Deakin
James Deakin is a multi-awarded automotive journalist located in Manila, Philippines. He has a weekly column in the Philippine STAR's motoring section, is a motoring corespondent for CNN Philippines and is the host of the Philippine motoring television show Drive, which airs every Sunday night at 10pm on CNN Philippines.