Metro Manila traffic

Marcos sets town hall on traffic woes, sans major transport advocacy groups

Dwight de Leon

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Marcos sets town hall on traffic woes, sans major transport advocacy groups

CONGESTION. Heavy traffic builds up on the southbound section of EDSA in Quezon City on August 24, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

Some groups advocating for more inclusive public transportation tell Rappler they did not get an invitation to attend the Marcos administration's public consultation to resolve Metro Manila traffic

MANILA, Philippines – The administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has scheduled a public consultation to discuss the perennial problem of traffic in Metro Manila and potential solutions to it, but some major transport advocacy groups did not receive an invitation.

The event, dubbed the “Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting on Traffic Concerns,” will take place at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City on Wednesday, April 10.

A draft of the program seen by Rappler indicated that Marcos himself will grace the event and deliver a speech, while the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will submit a synthesis of proposals to address traffic in the capital region.

There will also be an open forum whose participants include:

  • San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora (representing Metro Manila mayors)
  • Employers Confederation of the Philippines president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. (representing the business sector)
  • Angkas chief executive officer George Royeca (representing the private sector)
  • Pasang Masda’s Roberto Marin (representing transport groups)

Marcos already hinted at the event in a nearly six-minute vlog uploaded on his YouTube channel on Sunday, April 7.

In that video, he mentioned work-from-home and four-day work week setups, alternatives which he said may be “[discussed] further in detail together with other government agencies and local government units.”

“Watch out for it, you will also get to join via the comments section, so that we will know what ideas you have,” Marcos said in Filipino.

Data from the 2023 TomTom Traffic Index showed Metro Manila is the world’s slowest metro area to drive in.

Some groups snubbed?

While an MMDA advisory seen by Rappler extends the invitation to transport groups of public utility vehicle owners, advocates for more inclusive public transportation appear to be missing from the list.

Some groups such as the Move as One Coalition, AltMobility PH, and Make It Safer Movement told Rappler on Monday, April 8, that they did not get an invitation. These groups advocate for active transport modes, like biking and walking, and for commuters’ rights. PISTON and Manibela, groups which have been active in opposing the government’s jeepney modernization program and consolidation plan, were also not invited, based on the list seen by Rappler.

AltMobility PH director Ira Cruz said the absence of the public from the event is perplexing, but he hopes that this is just the beginning of the process.

“It’s looking more like a traffic management seminar hosted by the MMDA rather than the traffic summit that we had hoped for from the President – one that we perceived was an initial step to coming up with a comprehensive plan to address mobility issues of the country,” he said.

“Any initiative that aims to craft a transportation plan should be led by the Department of Transportation, the government agency with a national mandate to address mobility needs, and actively participated in by relevant groups,” Cruz added.

The Move as One Coalition and the Make It Safer Movement also reiterated their call for the government to significantly rethink how it addresses the transportation crisis in Metro Manila.

“The MMDA already held a three-day ‘traffic summit’ in 2022. Nothing has changed since then because the focus has been on ‘traffic’ – the movement of cars from point A to point B, instead of transportation – the movement of people from point A to point B,” Move as One said in a statement.

“We’ve been doing all that we can to communicate policy proposals and solutions to anyone in government and private sector willing to listen. We’ll be ready to participate when they are, too,” Make It Safer Movement organizer Cristina Batalla added.

Marcos sets town hall on traffic woes, sans major transport advocacy groups

The Move as One Coalition and the Make It Safer Movement will mount what they call a “critical mass ride for safe and inclusive roads” on Wednesday, coinciding with Marcos’ town hall.

They say the intention is to oppose the MMDA ban against tricycles, pedicabs, and light electric vehicles on national roads, fight for the 94% of the population who do not have cars, and raise awareness of the climate crisis. –

Not invited to Marcos’ traffic town hall but want to weigh in on the transport crisis? Rappler will hold a simultaneous live commentary before, during, and after the traffic summit. Rappler journalists and transport groups will fact-check, annotate, and provide analysis and reactions to the statements made by government officials during the summit. To find out more, check the Make Manila Liveable page on the morning of April 10, the day of the town hall.

You can be part of the discussion by joining the Liveable Cities chat room on the Rappler Communities app during the live commentary. We will read out your questions and insights from the chat room.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.