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The Philippine institutions, most notably the government and the economic institutions, have taken measures to

solve the Metro Manila traffic issue, however, the existence of flawed norms and practices constantly lead to their failure
to perform their functions and to fully meet their primary objective.For Metro Manila residents and even for those who
often flock to the nations capital, the traffic problem in Manila is nothing new, to the point where it has become quite
customary especially during rush hours.Discussions, for the most parts, have revolved around two institutions: the
political and economic institutions.
For Cohen and Orbuch (1990), these institutions hold the primary objective of satisfying social needs and aiming
for the common good. In the case of the traffic nuisance in the Metro, their role is solving it.For good reason, the
government is justly so especially when taking into account its supposed powers of law-making, law-interpreting, and
law-enforcing. On the other hand, the economic institutions determine the goods and services for production, distribution,
and consumption a vital element in the issue. However, despite their powers, they have fallen short in completely
eradicating the regular traffic fiasco in Metro Manila.
Nevertheless, it can also be accounted to the cultural norms and values incorporated in these institutions. They
have failed to harmoniously combine these norms with their functions, causing the society to suffer; hence the stressful
and nerve-wracking traffic in Metro Manila.
Understanding the Traffic That Was, Is, and Might Still Be
The Metro Manila traffic congestion is as heavy as it can get. With millions of people and roughly 350,000
vehicles traversing the lengthy EDSA alone, the cause of concern for everyday traffic calls to be addressed (Philippine
Daily Inquirer, 2012).
Although the constant traffic continues to be a staple during the rush hours of every Manila resident, the
Philippine institutions still, on their part, have taken steps in the past that were geared towards solving the problem at
hand. Some major laws and resolutions in addressing the traffic issue in Metro Manila include:
a.
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7924: The creation of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA): This
leading authority in the metro was put in position to accomplish the proposed duties of efficient traffic and
transport system management. The MMDA, in accordance with its purpose has formulated and monitored
policies, projects, and programs to ensure a smooth and safe flow of traffic in the nations capital (Metropolitan
Manila Development Authority (MMDA)).
b.
REPUBLIC ACT No. 4136: The implementation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code: This
provision is viewed as a means to control the registration and operation of vehicles. In a way, this provision
controls the number of cars in the streets (Arellano Law Foundation).
c.
The implementation of a four-day workweek for the government: An optional scheme approved by the
Civil Service Commission (CSC) as a response to the growing traffic issue in the metropolis where government
offices select to work either from Monday to Thursday or from Tuesday to Friday (Aurelio, 2014).
With some examples listed above, it is evident that the government is constantly trying to come up with the right
mechanisms and programs to address Metro Manilas worsening traffic. Through the years, other possible transportation
alternatives have also been provided in attempts to finally end the nightmarish situation of Manila. Currently, the
transportation available for the public includes the MRT, LRT, jeep, and buses. The government, though, have voiced out
plans to revive the river ferry system that once served as another alternative to commute around the metro (Bacani, 2014).
However, why is it that even when the Philippine institutions attempt to quell the traffic situation, the problem
still persists? The answer may be found in the implementation of these programs, as well as the values and norms which
continue to allow the failure of functions to exist making traffic still a cause for concern (Ubac&Gamil, 2013). It is
important to note that the provision of laws, programs, and resolutions is just half the battle, the implementation and
enforcement of these programs is another.

The Stark Case of Failure

The success or failure of any project, program, and resolution highly depends on the manner in which it was
implemented. Project enforcement is crucial in securing the goal, since it functions as the means to an end. In the case of
Metro Manila traffic, a lot of probable solutions which are beneficial in theory and in design, somehow still end up going
wrong or worse aggravating the problem even more (Regidor, 2007). In most cases, implementation is to blame.
In majority, law enforcers are entrusted in carrying out the strict compliance of a law or policy. However, these
law enforcers are not robots to be able to accomplish their role in a purely objective manner. Instead, they are subject to
their own belief systems, worldview and more importantly, norms. Now, let us delve into the norms and values that have
directly or indirectly affected the functions of the government and economic institutions causing a stark case of failure.
The mentioned institutions could not provide services that satisfy the people. Although these laws proclaim good
intentions for all, it stops at being ideals because the representatives managing do not intend it for all, but instead for their
personal interests. Hence, their failure to fulfill their functions may be attributed to their fallacious cultural norms.
One issue observed is the weak implementation of laws, a crucial responsibility of the government. Even if a law
exists to solve issues like traffic, if it lacks strict observation, then it loses its substance. In RA 7924, all the
responsibilities of MMDA officials express the need for this. It was stated in Sec. 5, The MMDA shall set the policies
concerning traffic in Metropolitan Manila, and coordinate and regulate the implementation of all programs and projects
concerning traffic management specifically pertaining to enforcement. With this, it is evident that their duties do not
cease in legislating laws, but it continues until the proper execution of laws. This entails that the progress or development
of the traffic issue in Metro Manila extremely lies in their political will to implement these solutions which will benefit
the Filipinos (CIPE&GI, 2012). About 350,000 motorists depend on the willingness of these officials; however, the hopes
of motorists for a stress-free traffic environment are not delivered. Despite the incentives of the government to improve
traffic flow, like the Rotunda Scheme using U-turn Slots (Villarete, 2014) or the One Truck Lane in C5 (Cupin, 2014), it is
observed that traffic congestion even worsened (Francisco, 2014).
Other than the traffic experienced, there was rampant corruption among MMDA officials. 85.19% said they
observed this (Notada, 2013) in the forms of pangongotong and in accepting suhol or bribery. Just a few months ago,
15 traffic enforcers were removed in position because of these misconducts (TVPatrol, 2014). These means draws traffic
enforcers from apprehending drivers mistakes and to harassing innocent ones, resulting to the loss of the meaning of laws
implemented. As a research (Chene, 2014) quoted David-Barrett (2012), bribes - irrespective of who the payer is,
whether the bribe is big or small, or whether it aims at easing bureaucratic procedures or securing an undue advantage
demonstrates to the public that the rules are not consistently applied in line with the law and results in a violation of public
office rules, which severely undermines the rule of law. In the first quarter of 2013, MMDA apprehended 75,863
motorists for traffic violations compared to the 32,064 apprehended motorists last 2012 (MMDA, 2013). However, despite
the increase of number, motorists still violate traffic rules. These may be caused by the thinking of motorists that officials
could be paid not to give them a ticket or to command them to undergo the seminars, which undermines the essence of
the laws implemented.
The probable reason behind this may be the officials themselves and the unfortunate situation they are in. These
officials are only given an approximate of P267 daily, which is just a mere half of the minimum wage (Endozo, 2011).
With this, there is not much incentives to perform their duties with integrity. Thus, political will diminishes and they resort
to corruption. Consequently, the needs of the public are ignored and officials tend to consider theirs first. Traffic, in a way,
may be veritably caused by the domino effect of the culture of poverty and the pursuit of self-interests to the weak
enforcement of the MMDA officials.
However, the problem does not stop here. Other than the political will of officials and the prevailing corruption,
the availability of resources affect the strength of the implementation of laws (CIPE&GI, 2012). It is a given fact that
when introducing laws to the locals, the government needs funding. Hence, a lack of proper allocation of resources will
inevitably result to a weak implementation.These resources include goods or equipment and services or labor to propagate
policy information as well as efficiency in implementation. Moreover, the quality of these is compromised which
prohibits efficiency.
Unfortunately, the MMDA currently experiences a lack of funds which led them to settle with unreliable materials
or facilities and which also led them to underpay their workers. Materials like the e-tagging scheme (Inquirer.net, 2012),
the new Traffic Signalization System (Gutierrez, 2014), and the speed guns (ABS-CBNNews, 2011) were only introduced
and launched in a small scale and were not, until now, fully implemented. Projects to ease traffic cost have been proposed
but these have not been implemented yet because of the inexistence of capital. One example would be the solar-powered

traffic lights which were not brought up again (Frialde, 2011). Last year, the agency started accepting part-time traffic
enforcers because of the same reason (PhilippinesToday, 2013).
Moreover, what is supposed to be an alternative for passengers and is meant to ease traffic, the MRT facilities are
still rated as a low quality transport system. This is because funds meant for its improvement were transferred to other
projects which benefits only a few (Manalo&Labonera, 2014).
These problems still continue to exist because of the inefficiency of the economic institutions, which may lead to
effects like the improper allocation of resources. Still, the culture of prioritizing personal interests remains prominent in
the issue along with the other faulty norms and values endorsed by the stakeholders in the traffic issue. This may only be
solved with the coordination of the economic institutions and the Philippine government with its concerned branches.
Cultural Norms Leading to Traffic
As the traffic situation in Metro Manila worsens and the institutional failures continue, there has been an added
attention to direct the investigation towards the norms and values underlying the issue.
Today, it is no longer a secret that self-interest plays central role in the traffic issue. For both the government and
the people engaged in the morning traffic rush, the idea of primarily satisfying ones own needs drives the issue in the
wrong direction. The fault, on this value, falls on both sides. For the everyday commuters, the temptation to break traffic
rules, such as illegal U-turns, constantly remains a threat in solving the Metro Manila traffic. The interest of the drivers,
either to reach their destination ahead of time or to gain more passengers, contributes to the messy situation. This causes a
lack of driving discipline and a neglect of courtesy in both private and public drivers (Ventura, 2014). In addition,
congestion is further aggravated by the selfish desires of colorum or the non-registered vehicles which tread the roads of
Manila, adding to the already overloaded condition (Frialde, 2014). The desire for their own interest and more
specifically, profit, have in turn, relegated the advancement of solutions on the issue at hand.
On the flipside, the government has taken the bulk of the blame whenever the controversy arises. Addressing
multiple issues connected to the traffic congestion, the government has not lived up to its billing(Sy, 2014). Although they
proclaim their mission, i.e. to provide better management services resulting from a balanced integration of traffic
education, engineering and enforcement services,(MMDA, 2010), this remains to be far behind its accomplishment
because the enforcers themselves are unwilling and they themselves do not believe in the law. As Paul Light (2014) said,
the mission of an organization must be communicated and embraced. However, brought about by their relentless pursuit
of interests, they do not see the benefits or incentives in doing so; thus,instead of honestly doing their duties; they resort to
corruptive acts, which promise more personal advantages than the opposite.
For corruption, this institution has taken its share of hits, especially regarding the budget allocation problem.
Allegations have surfaced that budget is not properly allocated to where it is due; instead, they have fallen into the
schemes of officials for their own self-interest. Some insights have even questioned several government allocations which
could have been awarded to law and traffic enforcers, such as the alleged over-pricing of buildings (Legaspi, 2014). This
may be a possible reason why traffic problems continue to linger. As self-interests remain a high priority and these
interests are not met sufficiently, policy and program implementations suffer. Just like the situation of traffic enforcers
who do not recognize significant benefits or sufficient incentives from it, thus they turn to the illegal acts which furnish
them with those, such as pangongotong. Rather than aligning their actions with their mission by properly apprehending
violators, officials let them go once they receive suhol or bribes. Another example to this is the corruption inside LTO,
where their duties to issue the licenses to drivers are easily compromised by connections, which are either close friends or
relatives, or by a certain amount of money. These malicious practices have contributed to accidents and recklessness
which are potentially factors of perpetuating Metro Manila traffic. This disincentive effect, arising from low wages
incapable of sustenance, remains a root cause of corruption and the lack of competitiveness to implement the policies and
regulations.As a result, although there are solutions implemented to improve traffic flow, these do not actually work
because only a few take part in it.
Furthermore, lawmakers are also accused of pursuing their own interests. With the approaching elections,
electoral pressures come in the picture. The tendency to propose projects, which are at best average, is high during
election periods. The result, more often than not, is the proposal of short-term solutions, in order to have something to
show for in the coming elections. This strategy leaves half-baked and unclear provisions partnered with possible longterm repercussions. An example to this is the elating promise of President Benigno Aquino III for a launching of

numerous Public-Private-Partnerships during his fresh years. However, four years have passed and no progress in this
aspect has been observed(Heydarian, 2014).
Another norm highlighted in the condition of Metro Manila includes the regulatory capture, which is the process
where special interests deliver an effect in any form to state interventions. It is the situation in which the state agencies
designed to control the firms and monopolies end up being subject to manipulation (Bo, 2006). In the traffic controversy,
this applies more to the leading alternative the MRT. As the problems related to the MRT continue to derail passengers
who consequently add to the traffic congestion during MRT breakdowns, it has gained attention in recent weeks, in
particular, the issue involving the MRTC and DOTC. The two sides have persistently passed the blame among one another
regarding the special interests given as a response to the changing of the former contractors. The controversy was about
the replacement of the former contractor by another entity who ended up performing worse. As a result of the change, the
problems in the MRT has skyrocketed leading to questions on the bidding process, such as the time allotted and the
method of selection, where the special interests link to a big controversy(Quismorio, 2014).
Government and Economic Failure Dynamics
With the governments tendency to focus on personal interests and to modify their duties to become means of
earning profit as discussed earlier, it is not far-fetched for the economic institutions to do the same as an adaptive measure
to the rules of the game. According to Paul Hutchcroft (1998), the Philippine economy is characterized by booty
capitalism, where private interests are acted upon at the expense of the public and their resources. This means that only the
economic interests of those in position would be allowed and supported, which leaves the needs of the belittled
commuters ignored and neglected. As Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago (2014) said, Since there are more in the
commuting class than the elite class, the welfare of the commuters should be paramount. However, the problem still
remains to be unsolved. The P213.5billion allocation to the DPWH(Calica, 2013) is purposed for the road rehabilitation
utilized by more than 350, 000 private motorists. However, the MRT was left with a debt worth P7.250billion (Official
Gazette, 2013) despite the 600,000 passengers it carries, which is 50% more than the former (Balea, 2014).
Other than this, the lax implementation of laws by its enforcers allows the illegal and corruptive acts to continue.
An example to this would be the present malfunctioning and disappointing services offered by the MRT, which are
rumored to be caused by the under-spending and by the profiteering schemes of the private contractors (Antiporda, 2014).
Caused by these norms, the traffic congestion in Metro Manila creates a direct impact on the economy of the
country. DOTC said that about $3.27 billion of productivity a year is wasted because of traffic (Montecillo, 2012).
Furthermore, according to Japan International Cooperation Agency, for the daily cost of traffic in Metro Manila, Filipinos
spend about P120 each day, which in total is approximately P2.4billion a day (Amojelar, 2014). An hour in traffic in
Metro Manila costs each individual gasoline, labor hours, electricity and others. Although the motorists and commuters
contribute to taxes, tolls, fares, they are not reciprocated well. They are even given graver problems, affecting both the
public and private sectors of the nation. A great example to this is the delay of the transportation of goods in markets and
establishments (Nava, 2014). Moreover, government ends up spending more on the employment of traffic aides. And,
more than P100 billion were indirectly lost because of investors losing interest (Abelgas, 2013).
Conclusion
Metro Manila traffic has been, for many years, a headache for the drivers and travellers in the nations capital.
Although numerous attempts have already been carried out, the Philippine institutions, especially the government and
economic, have not quite gotten over the hump in the traffic problem. This failure, to an extent, has been directed towards
the norms and values that negatively affect the traffic situation. Furthermore, the call to address the issue has been
highlighted by the growing effects it has on the economy itself.
The traffic situation, as it stands today, needs to undergo major changes in the values, norms, and practices of the
Filipinos if the country hopes to progress and more importantly, satisfy the needs of its citizens.

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