MANILA, Philippines – Following President Rodrigo Duterte's order to reclaim public roads being used for private purposes, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is considering asking gated subdivisions to allow the public use of their roads during rush hours.
"We want an agreement with gated subdvisions to give public access during rush hours. We can make them secondary or alternate roads," he said on Tuesday, July 23, during a press conference in Quezon City.
Such an idea had been suggested by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in 2016 – and even years before that, by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and urban planning experts – as a way to ease traffic in major thoroughfares like EDSA.
But in Duterte's 4th SONA, it was Año, a former military chief, who the President instructed to enforce compliance to his new instructions.
Duterte had lamented that he had yet to fulfill his promise of solving EDSA traffic, halfway into his term, blaming Congress for not giving his Cabinet emergency powers.
Targeting vendors, illegally-parked cars
Vendors and illegally-parked cars would also be the targets of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in its bid to de-clog public roads. Año said he will take inspiration from new Manila Mayor Isko Moreno who he said was successful in clearing roads around Divisoria of vendors.
"We saw here in Metro Manila, there are roads that have been turned into tiangge, an area for vendors, or parking areas so we will change that the way Mayor Isko Moreno did it in Manila," said Año.
In line with these efforts, the government will make an "inventory" of all public roads in Metro Manila being used for private purposes.
Another way to implement Duterte's order is to implement an existing memorandum of agreement between the DILG, MMDA, and Metro Manila barangays on clearing road obstructions.
In the agreement, the MMDA clears obstructions like illegally-parked vehicles then turns them over to the 1,710 barangays that are part of the deal.
Barangays who don't do their part are supposed to face sanctions, said Año.
"I will initate investigation that will even lead to suspension of local chief executives who will not follow this direct orders of the President," said the interior chief.
To get started on Duterte's instructions, Año said a July 25 meeting has been set for the DILG, MMDA chairman Danny Lim, and Metro Manila mayors and city administrators.
It will also be a "priority agenda" of the Interagency Council for Traffic which counts the Philippine National Police as a member and enforces traffic rules against "colorum" vehicles and other violators. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.