Conceding that enforcing traffic rules to avert gridlocks is a tough task, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is pressing the passage of a proof-of-parking bill to “instill responsibility on car owners.”
“The proof-of-parking bill seeks to instill a culture of responsible vehicle ownership among Filipinos once it becomes a law and not prevent them from buying their dream car,” said Gatchalian over the weekend.
During a committee hearing on Senate Bill 368, Gatchalian pointed out that car owners and local government units (LGUs) both “have shared responsibility” of reclaiming public roads to ease perennial traffic woes in Metro Manila.
The senator suggested that while LGUs are responsible for clearing the roads, “motor vehicle owners should be made responsible to provide permanent parking space for their private vehicles, whether this is made an integral part of their house or building structure or a leased facility.”
Gatchalian, after conducting a series of public hearings on the proposed proof-of-parking bill, is expected to move for early plenary consideration of the remedial legislation to address choking traffic gridlocks in public roadways when Congress reconvenes on November 4.
“This bill is quite basic,” the senator said, adding that if the car owner has no parking space, “you will not be allowed to register your car.”
Gatchalian clarified that this simply means “we are now giving emphasis on the responsibility of the car owner to make sure he has his own garage before he purchases a car, so this bill is aimed to help in the alleviation of our traffic situation.”
He added: “Again, the focus of the bill is not to prevent car owners to buy cars—you can buy as many cars as you want as long as you have your own parking space and do not park on the road.”
The senator recalled that during his stint as top local official in Valenzuela before his election to the Senate, “implementing traffic rules and regulations was the most difficult task” that he had undertaken as mayor, recalling launching operations against illegally parked cars during his time as Valenzuela City mayor that he “likened the undertaking into a cat and mouse game.”
In a news statement, Gatchalian also noted that many local government units are now thinking out of the box and implementing ways in order to take back the roads that had been transformed into parking spaces. In Valenzuela, the senator said that the city enacted an ordinance wherein the owners of unutilized land are given tax reprieve when they convert the idle property into parking lots.
“These are just one of the few negotiations that local governments are doing. But again, the most important part here is, hindi lang ito responsibility ng local government, responsibility din ito ng car owners. This bill aims to put that responsibility to the car owners,” he added.
“As a former mayor, implementing traffic rules and regulations is the most difficult task a mayor can ever undertake because parang cat and mouse ho ’yan eh, manghuhuli ka ngayon, bukas babalik, manghuhuli ka ngayon, bukas babalik na ho yan.”
Citing records from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the senator noted that there were 11.6 million motor vehicles in 2018, which is an increase of almost 1.2 million, or 11.4 percent from the 2017 figure of 10.5 million.
Under the proposed Proof-of-Parking Space Act, individuals and businesses based within Metro Manila would only be allowed to purchase vehicles after the execution of an affidavit confirming that they have acquired, either through purchase or lease, a parking space for the vehicle sought to be purchased.
At the same time, the Gatchalian bill also mandates the LTO, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, and local government units to conduct frequent ocular inspections of major and minor thoroughfares across the National Capital Region to remove illegally parked vehicles and to punish vehicle owners who refuse to comply with the law.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes