Top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) demolished on Tuesday a police community precinct that was erected on a sidewalk in San Juan City in a bid to send a strong message that the government is serious in reclaiming public spaces to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said they decided to prioritize PNP-owned structures that were erected on sidewalks and other spaces that are supposed to belong to motorists and commuters since the police force is one of among those that would be in the forefront of the demolition jobs.
“This is the Day One of the implementation of the memorandum circular of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). At maganda na bago tayo mang-giba ng iba eh gibain muna natin sa atin na nag-violate,” said Eleazar.
Eleazar was joined by PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora in demolishing the Police Community Precinct 6 of San Juan City located in Barangay West Crame.
“By demolishing this Police Community Precinct, our personnel will have the moral ascendancy to demolish other structures that were also erected in public spaces,” said Eleazar.
“Through this, we are setting a good example that there is no sacred cow in the implementation of the President’s order. We hope that this would serve as a wake up call for others to voluntarily demolish their structures that are clearly erected in improper places,” he added.
The NCRPO was tasked to help implement the order of President Duterte to clear sidewalks and other structures that obstruct pedestrians and vehicles in Metro Manila.
Eleazar said that his men were also instructed to clear all the other sidewalk obstructions in San Juan, some of them date back to the 1990s.
Albayalde, for his part, said that police commanders have already been tasked to identify and initiate the demolition of PCPs located in sidewalks and other public places.
“We have plenty of PCPs which are located along sidewalks. This sets a bad example because this somehow sends bad message that it is okay to do so because the police are violating it in the first place,” said Albayalde.
The presence of PCPs along sidewalks also comes with another problem of police mobile cars and vehicles of policemen being parked alongside the road.
Aside from structures, Albayalde said they will also run after those who are turning roads as parking spaces for their cars.
He said there is a need to clear all roads and sidewalks since the government is losing billions of money per day due to traffic congestion especially in Metro Manila.
He is referring to the study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that the Philippine government is losing some P6 billion per day due to the adverse impact of traffic congestion.
WHY PCPs SPROUTED ON SIDEWALKS
The PCP 6 of San Juan was erected in 1985, according to Albayalde.
Aside from San Juan PCP 6, he admitted that there are other PCPs which were erected along sidewalks and other public spaces.
There is a reason why, according to Albayalde.
At the time of the construction of PCPs along sidewalks in the 1980s, he said traffic problems are not as bad as today.
But during those times, Albayalde said that there was already insufficient spaces to erect PCPs–the reason why some PCPs were constructed along sidewalks.
“As time went by, there was an upsurge of ownership of cars and population in Metro Manila,” said Albayalde.
The call to remove all obstructions in local roads is embodied in Memorandum Circular 2019-121 issued by Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
Metro Manila mayors are given 60 days to implement the order.
Albayalde said they will coordinate with the local government units of Metro Manila for the relocation sites of affected PCPs.
In San Juan, Albayalde said Mayor Zamora has already assured them that the demolished PCP 6 will be relocated.
In the meantime that identification and construction of PCPs that would be demolished are pending, Albayalde said they would ask the barangay captains for some cops to stay at the barangay halls. (Aaron Recuenco)