The Transportation Crisis in the Philippines

It’s no surprise to any Filipino local or even expat that Manila traffic is one subject matter people have a strong feeling towards. The hours spent in rush hour traffic is no joke in Manila and whether you’re from the North or South of the metro, you are bound to spend time wasted on the road. There’s a ripple effect that follows this systemic issue and the Filipino masses have been rather exhausted trying to articulate how to beat the traffic or how much more of “Filipino time” can we tolerate. This begs the question, how much of the average Filipino’s time is spent in traffic?

How much time is it costing Pinoys?

Well, according to Urban planning specialist Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr., the current transportation crisis has Filipinos sitting through traffic and waiting in lines which are costing the population 9 to 15 years of their working lives. In an interview with ANC’s “Early Edition”, Palafox shared an inconvenient truth that has continued to bother Filipino commuters for years now.

“[I]f you have 40 years of economic life with the five to six hours a day [of commuting,] you would have wasted 28,000 to 40,000 hours, that’s at least nine to fifteen years taken from your life,” Palafox said.

There’s also been reports conducted by Japan international Consulting Group stating that Philippines traffic is costing the economy Php 3.5 billion in “lost opportunities” on the daily, and with no sustainable long term solution to solve the crisis right now, this statistic is bound to stick and even triple in number in 10 years.

The Commute Challenge

What seems to have been a decade long problem in the capital city of the Philippines has left officials and urban development specialists stuck on trial and error. Several traffic schemes, road closures, and transportation projects have been attempted in the last few years but has consistently failed in delivering better results.

The latest “commute challenge” which the official Spokesman of the President and Malancanang Palace, Salvado Panelo decided to accept from the angry mob of netizens has made the news and continuously proven that there is indeed a transportation crisis in the country.

The one-time experiment failed when he couldn’t ride a jeepney in time due to most jeeps being full during rush hour. This made Panelo late to his place of work at the Palace even more of a shame to the masses who take such mode of transportation a part of their daily lives. According to Inquirer, Panelo only had this to say about his failed experiment, “Ang punto ko lang dun (My only point is) we are very creative people. When we’re confronted with a situation na (that is) hostile, we adjust. ‘Yan ang pagka-malikhain ng Pilipino (That’s Filipino ingenuity).”

The spokesman also mentioned in his statement that there is no “traffic paralysis” yet in the country since people still get to their destinations. The need to wake up earlier is also a must in getting to offices, schools, and establishments is a must when in reality, Filipinos wake up three hours earlier to get to their 8:00 am call times at work. In essence, the denial that government officials have when it comes to recognizing a state problem and providing means and sustainable solutions to such issue is still a blur to many sitting in office to this day.

The Filipino People Deserve More

The Filipino masses are right about one thing and that is that they deserve more from what they are bargaining for on the daily. So much time wasted on the road and so much exhaustion spent on idly waiting for the MRT and EDSA to move faster, when in truth, the ones who need to make an actionable move lies in the hands of this administration’s leader. Think about that on your next 2-hour long commute.

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