The Palace on Tuesday said it is open to suggestions from the public on how to solve the gridlock on EDSA as senators suggested moving Malacañang to Clark and other government agencies to the provinces to decongest Metro Manila.
“The government should always be open to any suggestion that will improve whatever problem the government faces. After all, we are in a society and each one is part of the whole,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Panelo said recommendations could be sent to the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Office of the President, and the Department of Transportation.
“In fact, if there’s any written suggestion in my office, I forward it immediately to the MMDA and they act on it,” Panelo said in a press briefing.
The Palace spokesman also said the MMDA will review the provincial bus ban and yellow lane policy
, which came under fire for allegedly worsening the heavy traffic on EDSA.
He has also asked the public to be patient
since the MMDA is “doing its job” but also admitted that its “experiments” on EDSA were “hit or miss.”
Panelo also said the MMDA is considering the suggestion to relocate government offices outside Metro Manila and to reduce working hours to four days a week.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said transferring government offices to the provinces would ease traffic in Metro Manila.
Malacañang could be moved to Clark in Pampanga, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to Zambales, and the Department of Public Works and Highways to Bulacan, for example, to stop people from converging on Metro Manila.
“Another way to do it, perhaps… as far as the grand transportation plan is concerned, is to decongest Metro Manila itself by transferring all the government departments and department’s offices outside of Metro Manila,” said Sotto.
“Nobody would go to Metro Manila then,” he said in Filipino. “They’ll be going there.”
Sotto added that the provincial bus ban along EDSA, which the MMDA proposed as a way to decongest the busy thoroughfare, is just a “band-aid” solution.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri pushed for the construction of elevated walkways and bike lanes along EDSA.
He said the construction of an elevated walkway was “long overdue,” citing the lack of convenient inter-connection between the LRT and MRT systems as well as with other forms of public transport.
Other senators questioned the proposed provincial bus ban on EDSA, noting that a Quezon City court had stopped the MMDA from pushing through with it, and arguing that it inconvenienced those traveling to Metro Manila from the provinces.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon called for a review of the MMDA’s mandate, given the chaotic situation.
Drilon said he can imagine the difficulty of managing EDSA with all the local government units invoking their power over their respective jurisdiction.
“We are not depriving local government units of any power but just on that particular issue, the management of EDSA, this is a thoroughfare that is so critical to our economy. Maybe we should review the power of MMDA,” he said.
Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public services, agreed that it was time to review the MMDA’s mandate.
At the start of the hearing, Poe rebuked MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim for being absent.
MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said Lim had to attend a memorandum of agreement signing but offered no other details.
On Tuesday, the MMDA said it would close the Araneta-Aurora intersection in Manila beginning Aug. 15, Thursday, to give way for the ongoing Skyway Stage 3 project.
The intersection will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for seven consecutive nights.
The Skyway Stage 3, one of the key projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, will connect Buendia to Balintawak. It is seen to reduce travel time to 15 to 20 minutes from the current two hours.
An average of 17,000 to 18,000 vehicles will be affected by the closure. They are advised to take the following routes:
For light vehicles:
1. From Shaw Boulevard/ V. Mapa, take straight towards Magsaysay Blvd. then Santol Street, right at Palanza, Landargun or Bayani Road, left at G. Araneta to destination and vice versa;
2. Vehicles from Cubao towards Manila area, along Aurora Blvd., right at Guirayan St., left at Palanza, left at Tomas Arguelles St. or Santol St. to Magsaysay Blvd. to destination;
3. Vehicles coming from N. Domingo and Blumentritt, take F. Roman, H. Lozada St. and J. Ruiz St.;
4. Vehicles coming from north: along C-3 Sgt. Rivera, right at Bayani, Landargun and Palanza St., left at Santol St., left at Magsaysay Blvd., and take V. Mapa, Old Sta. Mesa to destination
1. From Quezon Avenue, E. Rodriguez Ave., straight towards España Blvd., left Lacson Ave. straight towards Nagtahan to a destination (vice versa); or
2. Take Magsaysay Blvd., right at V. Mapa to Shaw Blvd. to destination and vice versa.
READ: EDSA commuters told: Have patience
READ: Senate hearing on ‘hellish‘ EDSA jams set Tuesday
READ: MMDA defends yellow lane scheme