Two Senate bets see federalism as solution to traffic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — Two candidates for the Senate in the midterm elections believe that shifting to a federal form of government is key to solving traffic in Metro Manila.

In the third Senatorial Forum of CNN Philippines, former Consultative Committee to amend the 1987 Constitution spokesperson Conrado "Ding" Generoso and former teacher Agnes Escudero said federalism would decongest Metro Manila because it would create job and other economic opportunities in the regions.

"Federalism is good. Because made-decongest talaga dito sa [It will really decongest] Metro Manila more on sa [especially on] employment. Kailangan kasi dalhin natin sa countryside ang employment," Escudero said Sunday.

A shift to federalism is a priority goal of President Rodrigo Duterte but moves to amend the Constitution have stalled in the Senate. A federal form of government will decentralize the government and grant autonomy to the differents regions in the country.

"Pagka ang ibang rehiyon outside Metro Manila ay bigyan natin ng kapangyarihan ng awtonomiya … makakalikha tayo ng ekonomiya na progresibo sa mga rehiyon," Generoso said. "Iyong regional government ay makakalikha ng ibang oportunidad sa ibang rehiyon."

[Translation: If regions outside Metro Manila will be given the power of autonomy … we will create a progressive economy in the regions … The regional government can create other opportunities in other regions.]

However, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, an independent candidate who is on senatorial slate of the opposition Otso Diretso, said he would push for a 10-hour a day, four-day work week to alleviate traffic congestion.

The election lawyer said this would lessen people on the road in Metro Manila from five to one million a day.

All three candidates agreed that the long-term solution to the traffic problems, which the Japan International Cooperation Agency said will cost the country ₱5.4 billion daily by 2035, is the improvement of the transportation system.

Generoso pushed for a government corporation to run a bus rapid transit in Metro Manila, while Escudero suggested a subway system. The government broke ground on the construction of the Metro Manila Subway project last week.

Generoso also said Makati-based companies should provide a shuttle service for their employees to discourage them from using their cars to go to work.