Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. — PHILSTAR

THE PALACE on Thursday defended President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s claim that his government has solved the traffic congestion along the country’s main thoroughfare, citing that the newly opened road linking the southern and northern expressways has cleared EDSA of about 30% of vehicles.

Presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said Mr. Duterte’s claim was correct because more vehicles are now passing through the road connector built by San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

“Mahigit kumulang 30% ay dumadaan na sa connector at hindi sa EDSA, so hindi po ‘yan haka-haka (About 30% now pass through the connector instead of EDSA, so that is not speculation),” he said, citing SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang.

“Itinayo nila iyan kasi alam nila na mayroong dadaan maski magbabayad sila dahil mas mabilis nga (They built that because they know that motorists will use it even if it is a tollroad because it will be faster),” he added.

“That’s based on a business decision.”

Aside from the road connector, the Palace official said the creation of more bus lanes eased the traffic jams in EDSA.

Mr. Duterte earlier said his government exhausted public funds to fix the traffic problem in the capital.   

Road safety advocate James Deakin, however, said the EDSA situation could be better assessed by calculating empirical data.

“You can pick and choose where you can get the figure from. Let’s say we pick Monday to Friday, these and then we work out, what’s the average kilometer per hour on these routes, and that’s a bit more of a fairer way of saying whether we improved the traffic or not,” he told OneNewsPH on Wednesday night. “But then again, it’s not really fair to be doing these under pandemic conditions.”

Mr. Deakin said the “information coming in” is not accurate because the government is “not really being transparent with the problems.”

Infrastructure think-tank InfrawatchPH convenor Terry L. Ridon earlier said the President, who admitted in 2019 that he failed to solve his campaign promise of addressing traffic woes in EDSA, should “stop deluding the public about the real accomplishments of his administration” in the last months of his presidency. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza