Ahead of APEC in Manila, Aquino names new MMDA chief

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III announced on Friday, October 30, the appointment of lawyer Emerson Carlos as the new chairman of of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Carlos is replacing Francis Tolentino, who resigned from his post on October 7 to pursue his senatorial bid.

According to Aquino, Carlos will handle the position permanently.

Asked if the newly appointed MMDA chief could handle the expected heavy traffic due to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November and the holidays, Aquino said Tolentino himself recommended Carlos as his replacement.

He also implied assurance over Carlos' capacity, citing that he previously served as the agency's assistant general manager for operations. 

When reporters clarified his confidence in the new appointee, Aquino indirectly answered by saying the government is pushing its efforts to solve the congested Metro Manila roads. He shared he even tried taking EDSA himself.

 "‘Yung EDSA ang pinakamadugo. Kagabi dinaanan ko ‘yung EDSA, nakita kung gaano talaga—parang feel na feel ko ‘yung traffic na dinadaanan ng ating mga kababayan. Kada lalabas ako sa Malacañang, maski umaga pinapansin ko lahat ng lugar na may traffic," Aquino told reporters. 

(EDSA is really hard knocks. I passed by EDSA last night, and I saw ­– I did feel the [cruel] traffic our fellowmen experience.  Every time I go out of Malacañang, even in the morning, I take notice all of the places affected by traffic.)

He also mentioned they are currently seeking quick solutions to alleviate the traffic situation, especially that the holidays are coming.

"Ngayon, hinahanap natin hindi ‘yung—‘yung pangmatagalang solusyon nandiyan na eh. Maraming tinatayo na kayo na mismong testigo. ‘Yung pangmatagalang solusyon, hindi matutugunan ‘yung kasalukuyang problema," the President said.

(We are not looking for long-term solutions because we have already laid the foundations for that. There are many infrastructure projects that you yourself can see. But the long-term solutions cannot address [our] current problem.)

Aquino cited the deployment of the Highway Patrol Group to manage EDSA traffic as one of the short-term solutions they are employing. 

But he mentioned recurring challenges such as the number-coding scheme, which is just implemented along Metro Manila's primary thoroughfare.

"['Pag] hindi ka puwede sa EDSA, pumupunta, pinupuno lahat ‘nung secondary streets, tulad ng C-5. So nalilipat lang ‘yung traffic."

(If they cannot pass by EDSA, people take the secondary streets like C-5. So traffic is just shiftd somewhere else.)

He also cited a study that there had been huge growth in car sales that also causes traffic.

"There are 100,000 registered [car] sales every month, [that's] 1.2 million [in a year]. Even if you just leave those 1.2 million cars parked, those still occupy a big space," the President said in Filipino.

The President stressed that his administration is doing what it can to solve the problem within his term.

It was earlier reported that the government is finalizing its comprehensive plan to solve the paralyzing traffic in EDSA. (READ: Traffic plan: Gov't to prioritize 6 EDSA 'choke points') – Rappler.com