Make it fair and square

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The two-month-old cleaning and clearing campaign of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso is a breath of fresh air for a city that has plunged into a state of decay from decades of smog and dank, disorder and recklessness, and abuse and neglect.

Because of the ex-actor, other local government executives in neighboring cities, municipalities and provinces seem to be taking cue from him, even as President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered during his State of the Nation Address in July the reclaiming of streets and sidewalks long used for private purposes.

The operation is in full swing in Sampaloc, Manila, where the University stands as an old guard, and among just a few remaining bright and green spots in the historic city that have kept the charm and grace of the ages.

Outside the 21-hectare campus is a wild interplay of high-rise dormitories aching for attention, and rust-ridden, rotting structures itching for some serious makeover.

Tributaries leading to the four main streets and boulevards surrounding the 408-year-old institution have likewise been cleared of obstructions, after the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s 60-day notice, purportedly to ease vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

That sounds better than it appears so far.

Gone are the vendors and their mostly roving food stalls – erstwhile cheap alternatives for budget-tight students or the more intrepid souls. But the roads are still far from clear and conveniently passable. Private vehicles still rule the pavements. In effect, streets are being rid of “obstructions” so they can be used as parking lots.

To vendors, students, and other legitimate road users, that’s just unfair. It looks like any person who buys a car without first considering where to park it has a special privilege to occupy the space, while others — specifically the ordinary folk trying to make a living selling on the streets — don’t. It undermines the campaign to make the city look, breathe and function better.

So, in the name of fairness, why not serve clearing up notices on owners of garage-less vehicles as well? If they don’t build their own parking spaces inside their own properties, dump their cars!

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