Exiting MMDA chair supports the granting of emergency power to the incoming president to solve Metro Manila’s traffic woes

An ordinary day on EDSA ©
An ordinary day on EDSA ©

Metro Manila Development Authority chair Emerson Carlos said in-coming President Rodrigo Duterte should be given extra ordinary powers to solve the traffic problem besetting Metro Manila and other urban areas nationwide and stop the multi-billion peso bleeding of the economy caused by these gridlocks.

Carlos, who is set to relinquish his post on Thursday noon, also notes that giving Duterte extraordinary powers would enable the government to create more infrastructure projects and accelerate their implementation and completion.

“It is better to use the emergency powers for infrastructure projects to solve traffic congestion because there is no instant solution for infrastructure. We can do it (infrastructure) but it will take more than two years before we can start the project,” said Carlos.

MMDA chair Emerson Carlos ©
MMDA chair Emerson Carlos ©

Carlos made his position public after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte says he cannot solve the traffic problems in Metro Manila unless Congress gives him “extraordinary” powers to deal with the worsening situation.

The soon to be former MMDA chief explains that the emergency powers can also be used by the president to rationalize traffic laws, rules and regulations being implemented by the national and local governments.

“There should be rationalization of traffic laws, like for example, we are implementing a no parking zone but the concerned local government unit there has a different policy which allows parking. So, there should be a common policy,” he said.

Carlos appeal for rationalization is in reaction to a recent incident when MMDA traffic enforcers were prevented by local authorities from enforcing the No Parking Rule in San Juan City, specifically Annapolis Street, because that small city has a different policy which allows parking along that street in exchange for a fee.

Annapolis Street is among the MMDA designated Mabuhay Lanes in the metropolis where street parking is supposedly strictly prohibited to ensure the smooth flow of traffic in Metro Manila. The parochial concerns of the San Juan City government, however, has prevented the general public from enjoying the benefits that the Mabuhay Lanes bring in their daily commute.

Carlos said this incident could have been prevented if there is a rationalized traffic law governing the streets of Metro Manila.

The MMDA, the government agency tasked to manage the traffic situation in Metro Manila, is having a hard time tackling the worsening traffic problem, which, it says, is caused primarily by the increasing number of vehicles and lack of discipline among motorists and pedestrians.

Former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ©

Meanwhile, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says she will file a bill granting Duterte the powers to impose drastic measures in dealing with the deteriorating traffic situation in Metro Manila. She adds that filing such bill would be among her top 10 priority bills this coming 17th congress.

She notes that one of the ways to speed up growth is to get infrastructure moving, either by government or by build-operate-transfer or any of its variants.

Among the additional powers that Arroyo wanted Duterte to specifically have is the ability to enter into negotiated contracts for the construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of critical infrastructure, projects and facilities subject to certain conditions.

She also wants him to be authorized, whenever it is necessary for the national welfare and in the public interest, to set a maximum internal rate of return of not more than 12 percent of the house-estimated project cost.

“Provided, that any infrastructure project that has the capacity to yield said internal rate of return under commercial conditions may be undertaken on a build-operate-transfer [BOT] basis or any of its variants as enumerated in Section 2 of Republic Act 7718, provided, further, that the toll fees in the case of projects undertaken as BOT or any of its variants shall be set by the Toll Regulatory Board,” Arroyo adds.

“The President should also be empowered to reorganize the MMDA to make it more effective, innovative and responsive to the traffic crisis in Metro Manila,” she says.

To finance these undertakings, Ms. Arroyo says her bill would compel the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to set aside 10 percent of its annual aggregate gross earnings for the next five years as a subsidy to MMDA, provided, that such percentage allocation will be based on gross revenue after deducting the 5 percent franchise tax and the 50 percent income share of the national government.

The bill also seeks make the granted special power effective for two years unless they are withdrawn earlier by a resolution of Congress.

Christian Joel Espiritu
Christian Joel Espiritu is a veteran reporter of a Manila based newspaper. A Bachelor in Journalism degree holder from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, he started his journalism career as a reporter-trainee of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in the late 80's and early 1990's.

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