House bills seek to give MMDA more power over local governments

MANILA, Philippines — Two bills have been filed in the House of Representatives seeking to give the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) greater powers over the local governments in national capital region (NCR).

Quezon City 2nd District Representative Winnie Castelo, who authored House Bills 4642 and 5057, said resolutions passed by the Metro Manila Council (MMC) are usually rendered "inutil" (useless) because the local councils of the cities and municipality within NCR question or oppose them.

The MMC, the policy-making body of the MMDA, is composed of the mayors of Metro Manila, as well as the and the presidents of the vice mayors' league and councilors' leagues in the special region.

"It's because the sanggunian (councils) in their respective localities question the legality of resolutions approved by the [MMC]," said Castelo. "It (council) has no teeth. Whatever is provided by Metro Manila mayors, the contention of the councils and some mayors is that the laws need to first be passed by the councils."

Castelo said that the bills also seek to fix the lack of coordination in legislation between the capital region's 17 local government units:

The city and municipal councils are given 15 days to ratify any MMC resolution. They may not provide amendments. In case of violation of these ordinances, the MMDA will be the body to collect the fines and penalties.

Castelo said that the mayors and vice mayors have told him that 15 days are not enough to ratify the metro council's proposed ordinances. They also found the provision prohibiting them from amending the ordinances as "usurping their legislative powers." 

The congressman said, however, that Congress is open to extending the deadline for ratification and also to letting the local government councils amend the ordinances.

Castelo is the chairman of the House committee on Metro Manila Development.

Meanwhile, former MMDA chief and now Marikina congressman Bayani Fernando expressed support for the two house bills. He is a co-author of HB 5057.

"Through this, we will have regulation that suits our needs at the right time. This is what I was not able to do during my tenure," Fernando said in Filipino. He served as MMDA chief for 8 years. 

Both bills are pending with the committee and still subject to revisions, but both Castelo and Fernando are confident the bills will reach plenary. – 

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.