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After Du30, rd blockages are here again

By Manuel T. Ugalde


LEGAZPI CITY --- It would seem that the campaign against road obstructions was only a product and execution of the Duterte administration.


This is the observations of most motorists as the local government units tasked to clear roads of any obstructions during the Duterte six-year administration has become dormant from the Department of Interior and Local Government under the present administration.


President Duterte had tapped his Department of Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año to clear roads from any obstructions, a project that got high rating from Malacañang.


The DILG under Secretary Año even included in his directive the suspension of erring local executives found remiss in duty to clear roads, which included barangay officials. It was amazing to see roads cleared from road obstructions that dramatically reduced traffic congestions and road accidents, said a concerned passenger bus driver plying the Legazpi – Manila route.


Reports, however, said that the Police Albay provincial command has recently called the attention of the DPWH, in its effort to clear roads from any obstructions, citing spike in road accidents and public uproar. The report added that the PNP regional command has also began deploying the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) to monitor traffic violations and highway criminal activities. With the HPG patrolling national roads, they could be used in physically educating undisciplined motorists which are common among riders, and the enforcement of the banned padyak congesting the highways, said retired police Colonel Jimmy Silva


The report said that Albay PNP provincial commander Fernando Cunanan had recently met with the 3 district engineers of Albay about the damning resurface of obstructions in the secondary and primary national roads. Among the glaring existing road obstructions are the electric posts affecting the busy road outer lane, old trees, structures, palay drying, and the banned manually operated tricycles known as padyak, which the LGU hardly enforced for lack of political will.


Albay 1st District Engineer Rainero Zerda, confirmed the meeting initiated by Col. Cunanan, however, admitted that even without the initiative of the PNP, the DPWH is duty bound to clear roads from any obstructions. He said for lack of police power, the police is necessary to enforce the road clearing, especially on banned motorcycles, padyaks, and palay drying. Zerda said that when he was assigned as the Albay 1st district engineer in 2020, his office had succeeded in initially demolishing the untouched four glorified boundary markers in the cities of Legazpi and Tabaco, and the towns of Malilipot and Tiwi, adding old trees and waiting sheds are next in line for demolition.


More road obstructions such as waiting sheds, trees and electric posts are noted in the 2nd and 3rd districts of the province, a source disclosed.


The Albay 1st district engineer lamented, however, that the DPWH and the PNP cannot just removed electric posts, saying only the Albay Power and Energy Corporation have the power to relocate them. He said under the law on cooperative, the funds for electric posts relocation including its manufacturing are dependent on the release from the DPWH. If the power provider would not move on its own to relocate electric posts affecting the roadway pending release of funds for its manufacture and relocation expenses from the DPWH, the delay in relocation is certain. He said with the road widening in progress, the untouched electric posts many of them posted on the busy road outer lane are lamentably dangerous to traffic.


Two years ago, Apec general manager Apolinario Alvarez, estimated some 2,000 poles in Albay would be subjected for relocation.


Engineer Zerda said that a partial P850,000 have been released for Apec 320 poles in roadway last year, adding the total cost for the 320 poles relocation and its manufacturing was pegged at P12,321,241.298.


The provincial commander was reportedly irked on the damning obstructions in roads in Albay, which is the site of the regional center located in Legazpi, a favourite destination of foreigners who wish to see the provoking Mayon Volcano.


A source who peddled his van for tourists disclosed that a family of four from Australia were so amazed seeing the wonders of Mayon Volcano but surprised and antagonistic passing by the roads filled with padyak, palay drying, worse barricaded with big boulders. “You build roads for vehicles and slow-moving tricycles (padyak) and for palay drying with boulders? Amazing! Only in the Philippines,” said the driver, quoting the foreign kid who shouted joyously.


It will be recalled that the DPWH regional office had boasted sometime in 2019 about its innovation about road obstruction, dubbed as the “Text Brigade” launched by regional director Virgilio Eduarte. The Text Brigade, according to Eduarte would require every DPWH employees to just text the office of the district engineer about any seen road obstructions in all kinds of roads, including barangay. Eduarte explained that the text brigade would be a great support for the DILG road clearing project that tasked LGUs for its mandatory enforcement in road clearing. Nothing has happened, however, about said project.


Motorists, hailed the PNP efforts to revive active enforcement in road clearing, which according to Cunanan is in pursuit of the former administration DILG efforts. The motorists also welcome the deployment of the HPG in highway roads against undisciplined motorists.

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