Are Numbers Enough?

Driving in the Philippines has been branded as one of the worst in the world. It is here where the drivers do not really follow the traffic rules and commit acts such as beating the red light, not following a no U-turn sign, and a traffic that is often bumper-to-bumper. The latter one is very prominent in the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (commonly known as EDSA) since especially when it is rush hour already, the whole stretched of EDSA would seem as if it were a parking lot. The  Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) attempted to address this situation in Metro Manila through the use of Number Coding Scheme or formally known as Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP).

The Number Coding Scheme took effect in March 2003. It is not really a new program since some rules such as Private and Public Utility Vehicles are not allowed to roam the streets on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and that there are window hours for private vehicles from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. were re-implemented similar to some established MMDA rules before. Makati city and the municipality of San Juan preserved their implementation of practicing number coding without the window hours given to private vehicles. Exempted still from the UVVRP are the Provincial busses, shuttle busses, school busses and motorcycle nits. Aside from those, military vehicles, police patrol cars, medical practitioner for military relief or emergency purposes, ambulance, fire trucks, vehicles with diplomatic plates and vehicles with government plates or approved LTO stickers are included. UVVRP applies to plate ending in 1 and 2 on Mondays, 3 and 4 on Tuesdays, 5 and 6 on Wednesdays, 7 and 8 on Thursdays and 9 and 0 on Fridays as a general rule. On weekends and holidays, no number coding is observed.

Other conditions held by the UVVRP (Metro Manila Directions, 2013) is that in Makati and Las Piñas city, no window hours are observed similar to the what Makati and the municipality of San Juan preservation of that rule stated above. In Pasic City, they added an additional 2 hours since instead of the general window hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. they are observing 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Marikina, Taguig, and Muntinlupa on the other hand does not follow any number coding scheme. In Pasay City, number coding is practiced except on some roads which are Ninoy Aquino Avenue, Domestic Road, Sales Road, MIA Road, Portions of Airport Road, Tramo and portions of Buendia. Also, EDSA, C5, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal Avenue, Roxas Blvd (Pasay), all other National, city, and Municipal Roads have window hours regardless of the city. There are times wherein the need arises, number coding may be lifted.

This scheme might seem good but I think it needs a lot of more efficient and effective revisions. Even though there is a penalty of 300 pesos minimum, people are more likely to subdue to corruption since I also do think that it is way more convenient to pay a bribe higher than 300 pesos (e.g. P500) than to waste your whole day going to the redemption center in Orense Street, Makati in order to claim there your confiscated driver’s license for you were issued a ticket by the traffic enforcer. More often than not, the traffic enforcers are also the ones encouraging it. When they found a person not following the coding scheme, they would be the ones who would initiate and highly encourage transacting a bribe instead. Officials in charge of this should have more effective values training provided by the government in order not to misuse their power.

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