Every so often, our government officials mount clearing operations* of illegally parked vehicles and other property obstructions on roads, mainly along major thoroughfares in the metropolitan area. Unfortunately, fines and the hassle of getting back a car has not been an effective deterrent.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which operates one of the biggest road clearing enforcement agencies with authority over 16 cities and one municipality, just can’t seem to get around believing how recalcitrant offenders can be.
In posts on the motoring site topgear.com.ph, not a few entries can be amusing, like an incident when a washing machine had to be removed. Luckily, the owner was not fined after quickly responding to the MMDA officers’ warning.
Others are plainly exasperating, like when an illegally parked car that was cleared from a street had to be fined a second time in a matter of two hours after the MMDA team did a second sweep of the same area. In fact, the MMDA says repeat offenders make up the bulk of their apprehensions.
Mostly, these happen in local government units that have weak enforcement capabilities. Understandably, without the display of might that the MMDA Task Force Special Operations has, complete with tow trucks and fully uniformed and motorcycle-riding MMDA apprehension officers, most Metro Manila local governments’ puny apprehension units are at a disadvantage.
Enforcement units, even that of MMDA’s, do come across some nasty individuals who can violently resist being fined or allow their illegally parked or built property removed from the road or sidewalk. In one Top Gear news entry, there was even a case involving a barangay captain who wrongly argued that a car washing service on the street had the benevolent objective of providing jobs to the community’s unemployed. The altercation that ensued escalated to a case of violence against the barangay captain.
A good model of an effective traffic and road law and order enforcement network hands down goes to the Makati Central Estate Association (MACEA), a civic body whose membership includes 390 of the leading organizations that are residents of Makati’s central business district.
For decades since its inception in 1963, MACEA has quietly and without any incident getting to atrocious proportions been able to enforce many traffic and zoning agreements. Street signs, and importantly, one-way signs are prominently seen, and are a big boost to navigating the area.
MACEA supervises one of the most efficient street parking systems I’ve seen. Slip into a street parking space marked by white painted brackets during the day, and a MACEA personnel holding a portable booking and receipt machine will almost immediately be by your side.
They’re even well-trained to handle over-stayers, and very rarely will you be able to extend parking for a free hour. Best of all, one is forced to observe street signs because offenders will rarely go scot-free, and will be forced to deal with physical interventions like wheel-clamping or towing and impounding. The fines are pretty steep too.
The City of Makati, which oversees the central business district, has a good working framework that allows for a harmonious relationship in law enforcement with MACEA, where spheres of responsibility are clearly defined to avoid gray areas.
Other local government units in Metro Manila also grappling with road obstruction issues are looking at other models of effective enforcement. Pasig City, for example, which has another busy central business district, now strictly enforces apprehensions on no-parking streets and no-parking tire clamp zones. The penalties are also on the high side.
Often, the increased volume of vehicles going in and through streets, especially in the localities’ centers where offices are rising, force the local governments to come up with better enforcement rules and tougher penalties.
Hopefully, most of the LGUs will be able to do their own problem-solving in these areas where traffic congestion can be hair-pulling and wasteful of motorists’ time and fuel.
Solving illegal road parking and obstruction issues in other areas, though, will not come easy. For one, better laws are needed to deal with the growing number of vehicles owned by people who do not have the corresponding parking space within their property.
One lawmaker had once proposed that vehicle owners must show proof that they have the resources to keep their cars from being parked on streets, but as to be expected, could not muster support because of potentially controversial reactions.
In the Philippines where a household’s first dream would be purchasing a car more than securing a house and lot, parking responsibilities are easily overlooked. Even if local governments convert empty lots into paid parking facilities, just like what they do in other countries, it will be difficult to engage garage-less car owners to consider this as an option if no-street-parking rules are not strictly enforced.
This issue extends to tricycles that are relied on by many commuters as the only transportation means to get to the main roads. Tricycle owners and operators often park their vehicles on streets and sidewalks, and are not just obstructions but even safety hazards, especially at night.
Tricycles are a means for many Filipinos who lack the skills to keep a regular paying job to earn their daily bread, and there are many of these in almost all barangays. Clearly, it is an issue that can become a political liability to a local government official.
Sometimes, we just have to comfort ourselves with the thought that our elected officials are doing the best they can.
Road clearing operations in the Philippines are based on what law?
* Road clearing operations in the Philippines are based on a directive from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) under the Memorandum Circular No. 2020-145, issued on February 4, 2020.
This memorandum circular aims to reclaim public roads that are being used for private purposes, ensure pedestrian safety, and reduce traffic congestion in urban and rural areas. It mandates local government units (LGUs) to clear obstructions on all roads, including but not limited to, illegal structures, illegally parked vehicles, and other obstructions that impede the safe and convenient passage of pedestrians and motorists.
The DILG memorandum provides guidelines and deadlines for the implementation of road clearing operations, and it also outlines the roles and responsibilities of various government agencies, LGUs, and law enforcement agencies in the process.
Source: Philstar and Ziggurat Real Estate