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Orbos OKs MM governor idea

Thomas Orbos, general manager and acting chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority, on Wednesday welcomed the proposal to have an elected governor and vice governor to oversee a Metro Manila government instead of an appointed MMDA chairman.

The proposal came from Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, who believed having an elected governor and a council composed of mayors of cities and municipalities managing and supervising the National Capital Region could solve the worsening traffic problem.

Atienza, a former mayor of the City of Manila, said the current setup where the MMDA chairman coordinates with different Metro Manila mayors is ineffective.

“There’s always conflicting positions… elected versus appointed official. The elected official has all the power for the development planning for his city,” Atienza explained as he introduced House Bill 4758.

Orbos said he is not against Atienza’s proposal, but “more than the kind of MMDA authority, whether elected or appointed, what needs to be reviewed is the strengthening of the powers of MMDA.”

Based on a study, traffic in Metro Manila resulted in an estimated productivity loss of around P2.4 billion a day, or more than P800 billion a year.

Several MMDA officials agreed with Atienza’s observation, saying agency enforcers found it difficult to manage traffic because ordinances and other policies of local government units hampered the execution of the MMDA’s programs to solve the worsening traffic in the metropolis.

Thomas Orbos

They suggested there should be one rule or law that would harmonize these policies about traffic, the function of the local government, and national government agencies and the MMDA, in so far as public utility vehicles are concerned.

In 2015, the agency appealed to local government units to review and amend traffic and street regulations to prevent incidents like the confrontation of MMDA enforcers and San Juan local government personnel over illegally parked vehicles.

In that incident, members of the MMDA Traffic Management Unit, then led by Nestor Mendoza, were conducting operations along Annapolis Street to clear the road of illegally parked vehicles and motorcycles when they were stopped by the San Juan City government personnel, saying the parked vehicles were using the street, which is part of the Mabuhay Lane routes, for pay parking.

The San Juan local government, under its city ordinance, allowed car owners to park in the area and charged them P30 for the first three hours and an additional P10 for every succeeding hour.

The MMDA officials said this incident can be prevented if there is a unified traffic law for Metro Manila.

Former senator and local government secretary Joey Lina, in a forum, said the MMDA, with 7,000 employees, “seems useless and has no police power to enforce its mandate.”

“Like for instance, the MMDA wants to build a bridge, but the mayor in the city is against it, so what will happen now? Where is the police power of the MMDA there?” said Lina, who also served as Metro Manila governor in 1986.

The law vested the MMDA with powers so it can carry out its mandate, including police power, according to Lina.

He said the MMDA was established three years after the 1987 Constitution was ratified, and the President was granted the authority to constitute the Metropolitan Authority.

Then-President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 392 dated Jan. 9, 1990 constituting the Metropolitan Manila Authority, which later evolved to become the MMDA following the enactment of Republic Act 7924, also known as the MMDA Charter.

Lina said the agency was vested with “planning, monitoring, and coordinative functions and, in the process, exercise regulatory and supervisory authority over the delivery of metro-wide services within Metro Manila without diminution of the autonomy of local government units concerning purely local matters.”

He explained RA 7924 included development planning, transport and traffic management, solid waste disposal and management; flood control and sewerage management, urban renewal, zoning, land use planning and shelter services, health and sanitation, urban protection and pollution control; and public safety as among the metro-wide services it can offer.

Orbos earlier brushed aside rumors the government under President Rodrigo Duterte would abolish the MMDA.

“There is nothing to worry about because there is no truth about this. We have to focus on our jobs and we have so much work to be done,” Orbos said in a meeting with MMDA employees.

Topics: Thomas Orbos , Rep. Lito Atienza
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