By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. on Monday said that he was open to letting Provincial Information and Community Affairs Office (PICAO) head Nereo Lujan lecture the Iloilo City Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) personnel after Mayor Jerry Treñas raised the idea last week.
Defensor told the media that he had “no problems” in letting Lujan speak to the city’s traffic enforcers for 8 hours.
In a press briefing on Monday, Treñas fingered Lujan as one of the “critics” who would be invited to speak to the traffic aides.
The mayor also announced that he would pay Lujan’s ₱5,000 honorarium for the speaking engagement.
Prior to Treñas’ pronouncements, the PICAO chief regularly posted memes and jokes about the Ungka II Flyover which has caused major headaches for PSTMO.
The structure is located between Jaro, Iloilo City and the neighboring town of Pavia.
To recall, both Defensor and Treñas joined former Senator Franklin Drilon in the opening of the P680-million flyover in September 2022, just days before it was again closed after it was found out that three of its piers or foundations were sinking.
The cause of the sinking remains undetermined as of now.
Treñas said Lujan might be of help to the city in resolving traffic woes.
“[Lujan] is one of the people we are looking at. He seems to be good and able. We are inviting him to give an 8-hour lecture including a field demonstration, so it can help with traffic. Everyone here is criticizing for the betterment [of the city]. We criticize to be able to help improve the situation, not to put down people. If they have more knowledge and ability, we are willing to listen to them and pay them. I may have to ask permission first from [Defensor],” the mayor said.
“It’s just one day. If the traffic improves from his lecture, at least we would be thankful. I will be the one paying, not from the funds of the [city] government. […] In my view, we are one province and one city. I’m sure all of the [criticism] is for our betterment,” he added.
Lujan reacted to the mayor’s statements, specifically pointing to PSTMO head Jeck Conlu by saying that he was made a “scapegoat” for the city’s current traffic mess.
He included an image of a letter addressed to Conlu from the Office of the Ombudsman-Regional Office No. VI, referring to a request for information on the PSTMO’s official traffic policy.
“Mr. Conlu, is it wrong to inquire on your policies that you have now made me the scapegoat of the traffic mess? This inquiry was made in October through channels and without fanfare, yet it appears you took it personally and have not moved on. Grow up sir!” said Lujan in his Facebook post.
In a phone interview, Conlu said they are very much receptive to criticisms and suggestions to improve the traffic situation, which he described as a “two-way street.”
Conlu said they continue to find ways to improve traffic management, especially during rush hours, and upskilling of enforcers.
“Traffic is both enforcement and culture. We can deploy all technologies and enforcers but we also need the cooperation of motorists, especially in following traffic rules and regulations,” he added.
Treñas earlier announced that the city government will also be inviting professionals and specialists from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the University of the Philippines, and local experts, as part of the traffic aides’ upskilling efforts.