Quezon City 2nd district representative Winston Castelo has filed a bill that will require transportation officials of the government to ride public utility vehicles (PUVs) once a month to have first-hand experience in relation to solving the problem of lack of efficient mass transportation in Metro Manila.
Castelo, who also chairs the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, said his proposal would allow transport officials to experience the gravity and extent of traffic woes besetting Metro Manila and do something about it.
“How would they know the gravity of the problem kung may wang-wang sila, may hawi boys sila [if they have sirens and security] while the commuting public is suffering on a daily basis, losing money and getting late for work or appointment,” he said during a forum at the House of Representatives on January 21.
House Bill (HB) No. 8859, to be called the “Government Officials Public Transportation Duty,” will require all directors and higher officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and Philippine National Police (PNP) to ride public transportation, such as jeepneys and buses, once a month.
“Empathy of government officials to the plight of ordinary commuters is necessary,” Castelo said in his explanatory note.
Aside from Castelo, other lawmakers have also filed similar bills to force government officials to take public transportation.
Leyte 2nd district Henry Ong filed HB 6229 requiring LTFRB officials to ride public transportation during rush hours once a week as “public servants without empathy do not deserve to serve” at the LTFRB.
Ong’s proposed bill includes penalties for non-compliance, such as administrative suspension without pay.
AANGAT Tayo Partylist representative Harlin Neil Abayon III also filed HB 6195 requiring all elected and appointed officials and civil servants in national and local governments to ride public transportation to and from work during rush hour every month. It also requires public officials to take economy class for air travel.
Further, under HB 6425, or the Traffic Crisis Act of 2017, the traffic chief, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and directors of DOTr, as well as the officers of the MMDA, Cebu Traffic Coordinating Council, the Cebu Traffic Coordinator, and the Davao Traffic Administrator “shall be required to take at least once a week a mode of public transportation, whether land, rail, or maritime, primarily used by the masses, in order to monitor the traffic crisis during the effectivity of this Act.”
HB 6425, which aims to address the longstanding problem of traffic gridlock in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the Philippines, has been approved on third and final reading in the Lower House last December. The counterpart bill in the Upper House, Senate Bill 1284, which covers Metro Manila and Metro Cebu, is still waiting for second-reading approval.