Some Rising Concerns…

Traffic congestion has undoubtedly impacted Metro Manila’s urban population in many negative ways. Not only has it cost the economy with a slowdown in the movement of goods and services, but there are also negative consequences to the health of the urban population and the environment.

Major Environmental Challenges

  • Urban Manila is negatively affected by poor land use planning and management by the local government.
  • While more people are migrating to the city from rural areas, many workers still live in places far away from their employment location. This has consequently risen the amount of private motor vehicle ownership, as well as reliance on public transport for daily mobility.
  • Both commute methods combined contribute to large amounts of CO2 emissions, especially by diesel-fueled vehicles, as with the buses used for public transportation.
  • Most of Manila’s road network systems are also very narrow. Traffic congestion during peak hours further provokes higher CO2 emissions, as well as noise pollution to the environment.

(The Makati skyline, a city in Metro Manila. As the author describes it, the city looks very promising from afar, but what you don’t see is its underlying problems, such as heavy traffic. The clouds and smog of the skyline illustrate the city’s reality. Source of photo: Storm Crypt on Flickr.)

(A look at Manila’s narrow streets. Source of photo: Aleksandr Zykov on Flickr.)

Health Risks

  • With longer travel distances as a result of traffic congestion, the residents of Manila are exposed to many health risks, specifically non-communicable diseases such as chronic respiratory diseases.
  • Air pollution adds as much to climate change as to one’s personal health.
  • eg. It is claimed that “breathing street-level fumes for just 30 minutes can affect brain activities, and changes that are suggestive of stress.”
  • In a report by the World Health Organization, traffic congestion along with stresses are considered to be one of the factors for some of the most detrimental diseases in the world such as cancer and respiratory problems.

(A video by CNN Philippines shows how the Philippine society cope with the stresses that come with traffic congestion – the number one cause of stress and anxiety of motorists in Manila)

The Lack of Law Enforcement

  • These problems with traffic can ultimately be boiled down to poor traffic law enforcement in the city, on the part of the government.
  • This is a result of corruption as well as simply poor law enforcement.
  • For example, in November 2016, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada sacked all traffic enforcers in the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau due to what he cited as numerous reports of “extortion activities.”
  • Meanwhile, members of the Department of Transportation have pointed to poor law enforcement and instituted ongoing reforms to this system on major highways like EDSA.

(A very short clip showing how many people ignore traffic signs and law in Manila)

Overall, the urban population has been clearly affected by the local government’s failure to manage the traffic in Manila, through economic, health, and environmental consequences.



Andong, Rebeca Fontanilla, and Edsel Sajor. Environment, Development and Sustainability: Urban Sprawl, Public Transport, and Increasing CO2 Emissions: The Case of Metro Manila, Philippines. 19 Vol. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 02/01/2017. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

CNN Philippines. “Coping with Traffic.” YouTube. 10 September 2015. [Accessed: March 2. 2017]

DrivingPhilippines. “Traffic violations in Metro Manila.” YouTube. 14 September 2015. [Accessed: March 2. 2017]

Gonzales, Y. (2016). Erap sacks all Manila traffic enforcers for extortion. The Philippine Inquirer. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Feb. 2017].

Quito, Dr. Benjamin, Dr. Villamor S. Quebral, & Dr. Edna C. Aquino. “Smart Transport System: The Role of Technology in the Efficient Management of Traffic Situations in EDSA.” GRADUATE SCHOOL [Online], 1.1 (2016): n. pag. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.


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