How “friendly” is the Friendship Route?

First released in 2003 after the Friendship Route was created by then city representative and now Senator Manny Villar and Mayor Nene Aguilar in 1996, the stickers have clearly evolved. Released again last 2007, the sticker is now subject to many complaints.

With LP City Hall distributing some 100,000 to residents upon its distribution phase, villagers with new vehicles are at a loss as how to gain access to the Friendship Route.

For those not familiar with the Friendship Route, this is a “shortcut” or a diversion road that makes use of roads inside villages from Manuela Subdivision up to T.S. Cruz Subdivision wherein motorists can avoid the traffic that is Alabang-Zapote Road.

Here, motorists pass through exclusive villages like Philam, BF Resort, Moonwalk, Pilar and BF Almanza, among others.

According to sources from City Hall (and SOMETIMES based on our experience), motorists get to save some 20 to 30 minutes of travel time from Las Pinas to Alabang. It literally saves Friendship Route sticker owners the hassle of passing by the always vehicle congested Moonwalk (where there’s a market and where pedestrians cross anywhere there’s space) and also Southmall.

But again, how about those with new cars?

The Las Pinas City Hall some two years ago even created an ordinance penalizing vehicles with laminated stickers.

There are some residents who chose to laminate their stickers so as to use the stickers with their other cars because they were not given enough stickers for their cars. Apparently, City Hall wants to control this to avoid vehicle congestion inside the villages. Some villagers told Alabang Bulletin though that they laminated their stickers to avoid it being stolen. We had received reports of Friendship Route stickers being stolen and almost experienced this ourselves when we parked our vehicle outside of our house.

We also got reports that some people connected to City Hall sell these stickers for P1,500. We also know of individuals selling “surplus” stickers for some P300 to P500.

It is also known that villages like Pilar, T.S. Cruz and also Moonwalk collect fees from P15 to P20 from vehicles without Friendship stickers passing their village. We don’t know where these fees go but we certainly hope that they use the money to fix their roads or for security for vehicles passing there. I wonder if these fees are reflected on their financial statements.

So, it’s been three years since LP City Hall released and distributed the last edition of the friendship stickers. What happens to those who bought their vehicles after 2007 but are LEGAL residents of the city and can’t access the whole of Friendship Route even though the route uses their own village roads?

Do they just have to wait for the next round of stickers? Until 2011 perhaps? What do they do now though? Will they just let some village security guards bully them into turning around and passing the hellish Alabang-Zapote Road?

Can’t the guards just let vehicles with a participating village’s sticker enter without question? For example, a resident has a BF Resort sticker but does not have a Friendship Route sticker because he just bought the car, can’t the Pilar guard just let him access the Friendship Route for him to get home?

The villagers in these villages allowed (many opposed this move too, we learned) for their roads to be used and with this had given up their rights to be fully secured. Why can’t they access the Friendship Route even though they are bonafide residents of the city? They just want to go home.

Isn’t this the real essence of the word “friendship?”

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