Of traffic and politics PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 15:23



San Jose, CA. — Everyday, all roads lead to City Hall...and KCC. But getting there can be troublesome because the narrow, ganged up streets, crazily-navigated tricycles, jeepneys and service trucks and the perilous potholes can ruin your day and may spike up your blood pressure and increase your pulse rate.

No matter how you look at it, everything in beloved Zamboanga seems to be declining because of utterly chronic infrastructure mismanagement uncorrected since the 1980s. Even the pan salao is getting smaller. We may be the número uno city in fiscal management which has brought the Lobregats and Climaco-Salazar multiple awards for, well, frugality, but we are certainly below par in terms of infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, the city legal office has been swamped with cases of corruption; the office of the mayor punctuated with daily complaints of bureaucratic red tape, uncollected garbage, heavy traffic, poor drainage system, dirty sidewalks, busted water pipes, reckless tricycle and jeepney drivers and wanton traffic violations by owners of SUVs and Ford Rangers that have armed bodyguards riding at the back.

Yes, the city council has been debating for months now (I listened intently to an argument between Councilors Rudy Lim and Kim Elago) on how to regulate traffic, reducing the speed limit of motorcycles within the city limits, untoward overtaking at high speed (the cause of many fatal road accidents). In effect, though, that’s going to create what Italians famously call a “Roman Crawl.”

When I left Zamboanga more than a week ago, the perpetually embattled mayor was going to unveil a comprehensive, but experimental, traffic plan which will address, but not end, the pugnacious traffic problem.

Traffic in Zamboanga has never been as bad as when the three-wheeled mosquitoes were let loose like hungry wolves in the mid-70s. Henry “The Lion” de Leon made his first million by patenting the sidecar and gave up his corner store that sold all kinds of magazines, including Playboy and Sports Illustrated, and newspapers right at the entrance of ZAEC, now UZ, mini parade ground.

Going to KCC, for example, at six in the evening would be like making the “Via Crucis”. On many occasions, I chose to walk home (to my mother’s 45-year-old modest house along a road named after my grandfather in Canelar). It was faster to reach home that way while saving me P30 for a trike ride or a crammed jeepney ride for P7 (sc rate).

When Zamboanga fell to the hands of President Marcos’s soldiers in 1972, urban planning also fell by the wayside for decades. When he won in 1980, the first local election under Martial Law, Cesar c. Climaco, the visionary that he was, covered all open canals with concrete and concreted most of the downtown city streets. He tried imposing the truck ban to the consternation of his campaign donors. He tried to implement the Bodega Ordinance, but his paisanos raised a howl, protesting that such an executive legislation would impede the flow of goods and services. He later on abolished the ordinance. The Bangayan  building, believed to be the milking cow of politicians at the time, was an issue that couldn’t be dismissed because the lessees, all of Chinese origin, allegedly kept City Hall and the city council in Christmas mood.

Despite the groans and complaints by the rich and middle class, it has become apparent that, based on person-to-person interviews, the mayor will keep her seat beyond her second term. Though how hard her opposition present themselves as the “super party” buttressed by the heavy weights in Malacanang, congress and Davao, still the voters seem to forget what the real issues are against her. Maybe because she is a woman, just like Mrs. Maria Clara L. Lobregat.

The Liberal Party, founded on freedom and democracy, is now a disjointed, fragmented party that will most likely allow the clarions of the PDP-Laban to take majority control of the city council in 2019 and regain the second congressional district and retain the first district. It is also highly probable that the powerhouse ticket, as boasted by the party leaders, will leisurely whistle their way to City Hall.

It’s funny, really. The group that allowed Mayor Climaco-Salazar to take power is the same group trying to dislodge her. And the effort is relentless. The mirthful local leaders of the PDP-Laban have cast the first stone. They will swear in every careerist in sight, from the barangay leaders to the last market vendor, leaving the crumbs to the crumpling LIberals.