EDITORIAL: Minding road safety in Puerto Princesa

The tragedy of Nestor Aguilar Flores caught by a CCTV camera has magnified the tragic state of Puerto Princesa City’s road safety condition. While crossing the national highway in Barangay San Pedro in the early morning of May 14, a speeding car overtaking another picks him off the road and throws the poor victim into the pavement in a moment of instant death.

Just this past week alone, at least three other cases of vehicular accidents have been reported in the news, all occurring along the national highway  with the police concluding all of those incidents as cases of reckless driving.

Not too long ago when the city’s traffic authority launched a random check of vehicles for legal compliance, hundreds of motorists were slapped with various penalties ranging from license and vehicle registration issues to violations of road safety policies.

A few months back, a bus tragedy that killed tens of passengers in Mindoro prompted the national government to undertake a campaign against colorum vehicles. In Palawan, it singled out the island town of Coron, crippling its tourism industry that has been virtually reliant on privately registered vehicles servicing its visitors. The same result manifested in the capital. With colorum passenger vans sidelined by the risk of facing hefty fines if caught, unregulated fare rates to destinations outside of the city sky have sky rocketed.

Netizens have pointed out the typical condition of the city at night with many parts plunged into darkness. There are no consolidated statistics to get a handle on the impact of the problem on crime, which in itself speaks volumes about the road safety management, but several cases of robbery and hold-ups have been covered by media in the recent past.

There is a proposal that was raised before the City Council calling for the creation of a think tank body that will oversee traffic management issues in the City. It sounds like a reasonable long term solution to addressing some of the key problems that lead to loss of life and tragic accidents.

Still, there are immediate issues that obviously the city and even barangay level authorities must take heed and act upon. These includes allocating resources for basic necessities such as installing street lights, designating pedestrian lanes, undertaking foot patrols, among others.

Afterall, this is where taxes paid by the public are supposed to be spent.

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