Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. pushed for the development of Metro Manila’s outskirts not just as a way to achieve economic progress but also as a long-term solution to traffic congestion in the metropolis.
“Experts say the most effective major and long-term solution that is being proposed to address this gigantic traffic and urban congestion problem in Metro Manila is to develop the areas around it that have strong economic potential. For example, Cavite and Batangas to the south; Bulacan, Pampanga, Olongapo and Tarlac to the north; and Rizal to the east,” he said.
Marcos, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said the focus should no longer be developing just the National Capital Region (NCR), but also the identified areas called the “Greater Capital Region (GCR)".
“This is the ‘dream plan’ for Metro Manila. If this will be realized, people from the provinces would no longer crowd Metro Manila to look for jobs because employment opportunities would already be available in their areas,” he said.
The government has been experimenting with possible solutions to traffic in Metro Manila roads, including the fielding of Highway Patrol Group personnel of the Philippine National Police in major thoroughfares like EDSA.
A study in 2012 showed that around P2.4 billion ($51 million) is lost to vehicular gridlock in Metro Manila daily. Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan qualified that the losses were in terms of time and opportunity to earn by people stuck in traffic and the extra cost of operating vehicles in “standstill” roads.
Marcos said the traffic problem is caused by the combination of some 2.5 million vehicles, a population of 20 million, damaged roads, tons of garbage, clogged drainages that cause floods when it rains, and lack of driving discipline.
“What is the solution, they say? More roads. This is good but these will be filled by vehicles in the long run. What we need is a sustainable solution and that is decongestion by bringing development to provinces near and surrounding Metro Manila,” he said.
He said major infrastructural developments are being laid down in order to pave the way for the development of GCR consistent with the dream plan.
“Pero tulad ng sikat na awitin: ‘Pangarap ka na lang ba, o magiging katotohanan pa?’ Sana naman sa lalong madaling panahon magkatotoo na ang lahat ng ito para makinabang na ang nakararami sa ating mga kababayan,” Marcos said.