Amid last year’s tempestuous election season and the transition to a new administration, several voices from various sectors have joined the clamor to make Metro Manila a walkable metropolis.

In June 2016, Felino “Jun” Palafox urged the then-incoming Duterte government to make Metro Manila ‘pedestrian-friendly’. He was quoted by ABS-CBN news as saying: “First 100 days, make Metro Manila walk-able. Like maybe, every kilometer, pedestrian and bicycle bridges across Pasig River, San Juan River, and Marikina River.” Stressing that “walking is the first mode of transportation”, Palafox added that an elevated walkway in EDSA can make a big impact in terms of making the metropolis pedestrian-friendly.

Palafox’s suggestion was taken up by Sen. Bam Aquino, who in August 2016 called for a walkable EDSA. In a press release, the senator said:

“Sana po may programa rin tayo for allowing our pedestrians to walk and ply EDSA. Nakita rin natin na marami po sa mga sumasakay sa public vehicles, short distances lang ang biyahe nila while in other countries, puwede pong lakarin iyan,” (I hope we also have a program allowing pedestrians to walk and ply EDSA. We have seen that many of those taking public vehicles only need to travel short distances which in other countries are very walkable).

Sen. Aquino added that the walkable areas must be safe for them to be patronized by the public.

These initiatives have found support from various sectors. Manila Standard columnist Horace Templo stressed in September that “adding more mass transit systems and making our cities more “walkable” are the true ultimate solutions to our traffic problem as what progressive countries had done.”

DOTr Secretary Art Tugade has earlier expressed openness to walkability as part of the solution to Metro Manila’s traffic problems. As 2017 unfolds and as the government deliberates ’emergency powers’ to deal with transportation concerns, we need more voices to take up the cause of walkability and pedestrian safety not just in Metro Manila but for the entire Philippines.

Written by Gideon Lasco

Gideon Lasco is a medical doctor, anthropologist, writer, and environmental advocate.

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