By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile said the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program that seeks to increase transportation infrastructure cannot solve the “hellish” traffic in Metro Manila and other cities in the Philippines.

Instead, he proposed that the government give tax incentives to create economic centers outside the cities.

“Here in Manila, you need de-congestion. You need to disperse the business activities to pull out the population out of the city,” Enrile said in a radio interview.

“You have to give incentives. Differentiate the system of taxation in different parts of the country to pull out the business activities,” also said the former senate president.

The four-term Senator, who is seeking election, noted that the heavy gridlock cannot be solve just by constructing roads.

“You have to design a long-term policy and program including funding,” the veteran lawmaker said.

He added, “Bakit dumadaloy yung tao dito? Sapagkat nandito yung trabaho. (Kaya) bigyan mo (sila) ng trabaho sa ibang lugar. Encourage the businessmen to put up their businesses outside of Metro Manila.”

According to Enrile, who served as acting finance secretary, the cost of dispersing businesses to other areas will be “much cheaper” compared to the cost of putting up more infrastructure in Metro Manila and other cities.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said traffic is expected to worsen this year since two major thoroughfares – the EDSA-Guadalupe Bridge and Rockwell or Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge – will be closed for rehabilitation starting this month. There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles plying Metro Manila since last year, the MMDA reported.

Photo: Heavy traffic along EDSA in Pasay City (Patrick Roque/Wikipedia.org)

In February 2018, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) reported that the country loses as much as PHP 3.5 billion per day due to traffic congestion in Metro Manila. By 2035, the losses could add up to as much as PHP 5.4 billion per day if no solution is undertaken.

The former minister of national defense also said  congestion and heavy traffic will worsen the “security” situation in the nation’s capital.

“The problem of Manila is it’s too congested. All the developments are being done in the core territory of the Philippines, which is very dangerous from a security view point and many other things,” he said.

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