Expect heavy traffic around Bulacan on Iglesia centennial

Bea Cupin

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Expect heavy traffic around Bulacan on Iglesia centennial
At least 10,000 buses and 2,400 vans and AUVs are expected to take the SMART-connect interchange and NLEX on July 27 going to Iglesia ni Cristo's Arena in Bulacan

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Preparations for the centennial anniversary of the 2 million-strong Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) are almost done, the head of the government’s special task force for the event said.

In a statement, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, who also heads the Task Force Sentenaryo, said they are ready for the celebration on Sunday, July 27, at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Tolentino said INC members are expected to arrive in Bulacan by Saturday, July 26, the day before the event. At least 10,000 buses, 2,400 vans and Asian Utility Vehicles (AUVs), and other private vehicles are expected to make their way to Bulacan for the centennial celebration.

Handling traffic

In a statement, Tolentino said the following will be designated parking areas for the event:

  • Sta. Maria bypass
  • Balagtas bypass along MacArthur Highway from Monumento to Calumpit, Bulacan
  • Portion of the Mindanao Avenue Extension

Should the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) experience gridlock, Tolentino said a “zipper lane” will be opened up so northbound vehicles could counter-flow on the opposite lane.

Tolentino said they may open booths solely for Bocaue-bound vehicles and introduce “prepaid toll fees” to make it easier for vehicles to enter NLEX.

Still, the MMDA chairman warned of heavy traffic at the SMART-connect interchange and NLEX toward the Arena.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Thursday, July 24, told all trucks-for-hire to avoid passing through the following areas because of the influx of vehicles.

  • NLEX from Balintawak tollgate-Angeles City exit and vice versa
  • McArthur Highway, Cagayan Valley Road from Sta. Rita exit
  • All provincial roads that will be used as parking areas of buses and UV express bringing INC members to the event

Only trucks carrying perishable goods are exempted from the advisory. The LTFRB said it would be best to avoid the areas between July 26 and 28 to avoid creating traffic gridlocks.

Pinapaaalahan namin ang mga trucks-for-hire operators na ngayon pa lang ay magplano na sila ng bang ruta na dadaanan,” said LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez. (Trucks-for-hire operators should plan alternative routes.)

Security preparations

Thousands of traffic and police personnel will be deployed by various agencies for secure the event. The MMDA earlier announced they would be sending the 2,000-strong Metro Manila Public Safety Legion, on top of 500 MMDA personnel.

Meanwhile the Philippine National Police (PNP) said they will be deploying at least 3,200 personnel from the Police Regional Office 3 for the event.

The PNP will also be on “heightened alert status” by 3 pm on Friday, July 25, for several upcoming events: the INC Centennial, the State of the Nation Address on July 28, and the Eid-al-Ftr on July 29.

Task Force Sentenaryo is composed of several Cabinet secretaries and high-level government officials including the defense, interior, public works, and health secretaries. The heads of the armed forces and the PNP are also part of the task force. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.