Tolentino admits: No need for emergency powers for traffic

November 13,2019

Traffic in Metro Manila is expected to ease with the construction of a railway network linking the northern and southern Luzon provinces

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Francis Tolentino admitted on Wednesday that the proposed emergency power for traffic is no longer needed given the existing mandates and “vast powers” of the Metro Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA).

Tolentino, former MMDA chair, happens to be the author of a bill that seeks to give President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the traffic woes in the metropolis.

But during floor deliberations on the 2020 national budget, Tolentino pointed out that the law that created MMDA, Republic Act No. 7924, gives the agency all the power and legal authority to address the problem.

He cited in a particular a provision of the law “for mass transport system.”

“Would the chairman sponsor agree with me that the vast functions of MMDA under Republic Act 7924 will include and compass the provision of a mass transport system,” Tolentino said during his interpellations.

“Meaning to say, MMDA is allowed to operate their own subway, their own LRT , their own MRT, their own point to point bus terminal system under 7924…” the senator said.

And when Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate committee and finance, agreed with him, Tolentino asked: “Why the MMDA has been relegated to that role of being a traffic enforcer? E pwede naman po silang magpatakbo ng MRT o magpagawa ng sariling mass transport system sa C5, perhaps sa Sucat.”

(Why the MMDA has been relegated to that role of being a traffic enforcer when it can operate its own MRT or build its own transport system in C-5, perhaps in Sucat?)

Perhaps, the MMDA has given its concentration on solving the traffic on Edsa that it has taken for granted other areas that also need its attention, Tolentino surmised.

“Talagang tulungan natin itong MMDA. Nandito pala ‘yung kapangyarihan, nandito pala ‘yung poder, nandito pala ‘yung batas na legal na hindi na kailangan pang gumawa ng iba’t ibang ahensya—I’m referring now to the bill filed, the emergency powers—e nandito pa lahat ngayon sa MMDA,” he said.

(Let’s help the MMDA. The power, the mandate, the legal authority is there that we no longer need to create another agencies —I’m referring now to the bill filed, the emergency powers — it’s all there with the MMDA.)

“So if we just equip the MMDA, provide them with the necessary wherewithals, resources and funds and have it capacitate the right people, e palagay ko (I think) we can have a better Metro Manila,” he added.

Tolentino recalled that when he was at the helm of MMDA, its budget was only P918 million.

But for 2020, the agency is proposing a P1.03 billion budget for its Metropolitan Manila Traffic Management Program alone.

“This is almost equivalent to the entire budget when I first stepped inside the MMDA premises…” he said.

Tolentino then repeatedly urged the MMDA to be “more assertive” in exercising traffic management.

President Rodrigo Duterte had already abandoned the proposed emergency powers bill, which failed to get approval even during the last Congress. /je –By: Maila Ager

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