METRO Manila Development Authority officer-in-charge Thomas Orbos favors the proposal of Senator Grace Poe to have an early Christmas break for students to ease traffic in the metropolis during the holiday season.
“I said that before, and I am in favor [of the proposal]. Of course, the Department of Education was against it but we all know that if there are no classes, traffic would be minimized. So, what is one week removed before the actual Christmas break? That would be a big help,” said Orbos.
“I don’t know what Senator Grace Poe wants. If it is two weeks, it is still okay...I fully support what Senator Poe is proposing,” he added.
But Education Secretary Leonor Briones was not in favor of the proposal, saying the traffic during the Christmas season is mainly due to the season and not schools, so the authorities should not make the education of students suffer because of situations not of their making.
“What I have noticed as a teacher myself [is that] the buildup of Christmas traffic accelerates even during the Christmas break for the children,” she said, noting an early Christmas break will likely not alleviate traffic congestion.
“Does it happen during school season or does it still happen even after classes are already closed? Christmas is what Christmas is,” she said, adding Christmas season traffic is really bad up to New Year’s Eve, long after the start of students’ Christmas break.
MMDA records showed traffic volume rises 15 to 20 percent between November and December and “midnight sales” or extended mall business hours contribute to the deteriorating traffic in the metropolis during Yuletide.
The agency is also expecting the traffic volume to increase because of the influx of people and vehicles from provinces in Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon.
Three years ago, the MMDA initiated a program designating 17 routes as Christmas Lanes or Mabuhay Lanes to help motorists to avoid heavy traffic during the holiday rush.
The MMDA’s special lanes were opened as alternate routes to shorten the travel time of motorists during the holidays, when traffic flow in the metropolis are expected to be heavy.
In 2014, the MMDA suggested cutting the school week to four days, similar to many areas in the United States but educators opposed the idea and said the education of children would suffer because of the government’s inability to enforce rules.
The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations argued that students should not be made to suffer if enforcers could not make people obey traffic rules or phase out old vehicles.
But the Commission on Higher Education said a four-day school week is “an interesting possibility” in higher education but the proposal has to be studied carefully.
Last year, the MMDA also implemented a moratorium on street diggings during the first week of December and it will be lifted after the Yuletide season.
It also imposed staggered mall business hours to ease road congestion during the peak buying season.