Duterte orders MMDA, LGUs: Penalize unruly drivers 'regardless of stature'

MANILA Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 24, ordered the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and local government units (LGUs) nationwide to apprehend and penalize unruly drivers "regardless of stature."

“I am directing the MMDA and the LGUs of Metro Manila, as well as the LGUs of Metro Cebu and all our regional centers to ensure the free flow of traffic, and immediately clear our roads and thoroughfares,” Duterte said in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

“Penalize all traffic obstructionists regardless of stature – sometimes, you can’t do anything about it, because the [driver is a police officer or] a Cabinet member,” Duterte added.

Duterte was referring to drivers who evade apprehension because they are police officers, or use cars bearing plates of high-ranking officials. (READ: MMDA sues local officials who tolerate illegal parking)

The President said he has discouraged his Cabinet members from using the special low-numbered car plates – 6, in the case of Cabinet secretaries – to avoid special treatment on the roads.

“I have not authorized my Cabinet member to utilize the low (numbered) plate.....You just use an ordinary plate. Para walang masabi iyong tao (So that people won’t say anything),” he added. 

The President gave the order as he slammed “undisciplined drivers” and “unnecessary road obstruction” that, for him, put massive infrastructure investments to waste.

“All of these strategic road and transport projects shall go to naught if we cannot free our streets, which continue to be obstructed by illegally parked vehicles,” he said.

In his first SONA, Duterte had asked Congress for emergency powers to solve the traffic problem, a request that is still pending in both chambers.

In Metro Manila, MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim had adopted a back to basics approach to solve traffic, which primarily involves clearing roads, and battling corruption on the streets. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.