(Top-bottom; L-R) Speakers of 4th CBILS lecture: Ms. Jennifer Ramos, Dr. Ma. Sheilah Napalang, Ms. Anne Clarice Ng,  Dr. Syrus Gomari,  Mr. Jaime Aguilar, Mr. Billie Aranzanso, and Mr. Wallen Sigui

24 August 2023 – The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), through its Center for Governance – Policy Research Office (CFG-PRO), conducted the fourth installment of the 2023 Thursday Talks Lecture Series, featuring the topic “Making Ways for Safe and Inclusive Mass Transportation,” under the Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) program via Zoom communications and Facebook livestream.

Dr. Ma. Sheilah Napalang, Director for Research and Publication at the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP SURP), discussed the essence of transportation which is “based on the movement of people and goods, and not vehicles.”  Further, anchoring on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she emphasized the vision of a sustainable and inclusive national transport system that improves the quality of life for all people, especially those in vulnerable situations and those with limited mobility.

Furthermore, Ms. Anne Clarice Ng, Executive Director of SafeTravelPH Mobility Innovations Organization, stressed that “transport policy must employ a bottom-up approach where the identified commonalities from each of the localities can be put at a national level” because it should be collaborative, transformative, proactive, and multi-stakeholder to bring about improvements in transportation services.

The event also included a multi-stakeholder panel discussion on the future of urban mobility in Metro Manila. Mr. Billie Aranzanso, Supervising Transportation Development Officer of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), discussed the department’s Transport Modernization Program that highlights a vision of comfortable, accessible, safe, and affordable services for the aviation, maritime, railways, and road transportation sectors. He shared DOTr’s strategies (1) to have better project identification, prioritization, and preparation, and (2) to craft a more diversified funding strategy to fulfill the said vision.

The second panelist, Dr. Syrus Gomari of MobilityVision+, underscored that data on public transportation and urban mobility should be flexible, comprehensive, and decisive for the policy-making to be evidence-based and people-centric.

Lastly, Mr. Jaime Aguilar of MoveAsOne Coalition, stated the need for policymakers to undergo appropriate public consultations and empower local government units (LGUs) for the successful implementation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). Moreover, he talked about the importance of implementing a modernization policy that advocates for service contracting, ensures the incentivization of transport workers, and avoids the possibility of lost income and livelihood.

The open forum brought forth relevant questions and recommendations about the proposed strategies for a seamless and user-centric commuting experience, the preservation of the cultural aspect of jeepneys, the timeline for the completion of the MRT-7, applicability of the P2P buses in the provinces, adding Draconian measures to promote the use of mass transportation, and priorities in promoting the use mass transport. Discussions also focused on identifying possible areas of improvement and key interventions needed in the current policies and projects for improving urban mobility in the Philippines.

The Thursday Talks is one of the three components of the CBILLS program that aims to broaden the perspectives of participants from the Philippines Congress on the socio-political and economic trends in the country. The livestream of this event can be accessed through the Policy Research Office Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/DAPCFGPRO. —Christopher Brian Caiga