July 17, 2024

One of the hottest issues being discussed and argued upon among the Baguio residents is the proposed “mobility fee”, of P250 to be charged motorists for entering Session Road, the central business district.
According to reports, it came from the unsolicited proposal submitted by the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme whereby a private corporation seeks to invest funds for public interests chiefly because the local government unit concerned does not have the funds and ingenuity to formulate and implement it.
Thus, the government rewards a private entity or corporation for its idea with, perhaps the right to either implement it, in which case, the entity or corporation gets a return on investment or a fee (royalty?) for its “unsolicited proposal”.
It appears that this mobility fee proposal does not need any actual infrastructure or any building to be constructed in order to implement it. It only proposes the collection of a certain sum of money so that the motorist can traverse within the CBD.
The proposal may be just be one of the components of a proposal but whatever be the other components, how come the city administration or the many brains in the city council have not presented such proposal or any plan to address traffic congestion or over-tourism?
So, it is just the idea coming from a private corporation because not one of the city councilors or the city administration brought out the idea or a plan to resolve it.
Something for the electorate to consider in the forthcoming elections in voting for candidates who have the ingenuity, resourcefulness, talent, and novel ideas for proposed solutions to traffic congestion, public market development, over-tourism, water shortage, and garbage problem, etc.
The reason why a mobility fee of P250 is proposed is to “change the travel patterns of motorists and will not travel during peak hours.” Thus, the fee (whether or not it is considered a huge sum) is meant to be a deterrent for motorists to travel at the CBD during peak hours.
Manifestly, the Number Coding Ordinance has not worked or is an insufficient deterrent to ease traffic congestion, especially because the affluent residents have two or more vehicles with different last digits or motorists are given exemptions from implementation for various reasons.
But, then again, if the motorists could afford to pay, then they are allowed to nagivate the CBD. For which reason, the mobility fee proposal maybe branded as “anti-poor”.
It is also explained the proposed imposition of the “mobility fee” is patterned after the schemes implemented by cities in developed countries such as London, Stockholm, Singapore, Milan, and New York which was meant also to reduce traffic congestion carbon emission and energy consumption and to serve as an additional source of revenue.
In the first place, Baguio City is not in a developed country. Baguio City is in the Philippines, a developing country that is yet to see the development of an efficient public transport system that will encourage the residents to use public transport and leave their automobiles at home.
The proposal is, however, just one of the components of MPTC’s Smart Urban Mobility Project for Baguio City, which also includes the development of an efficient public transport system.
Perhaps, the imposition of the “mobility fee” can only be considered, including the exemptions thereof, can be considered after the implementation of the other components, although it will be uncertain that MPTC will push through with its proposal if the mobility fee will only be considered after the implementation of the other components because the mobility fee may the source where MPTC will draw its ROI from.
If there are exemptions from the fees, we would wonder how much could it be collected to satisfy the proponent. The city councilors must be wary about the proposal and be cautious in their deliberations, and we are certain they will be, because they will be filing their certificates of candidacies in October and up for elections in May 2025.