The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) should work with mayors and other local government officials if they want to succeed in managing traffic,” Buhay party-list group Representative Lito Atienza said during the House Committee on Transportation’s deliberations on bills seeking to grant emergency powers.
If not, then they are doomed to fail,” Atienza, also senior deputy minority leader, added.
He pointed out that decentralization and getting the mayors and barangay (village) officials involved in the effort to ease traffic congestion in the Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR) are essential.
“As elected officials, the mayors are in the best position to help in managing traffic in their respective communities. No super body led by an appointed official can compete with the duly elected mayors,” Atienza said.
“What is sorely needed now is to clear all secondary streets of obstructions so that the volume in the main thoroughfares like EDSA can be reduced. You don’t need emergency powers to make the mayors move, you need only ask them and they will readily help,” he added, citing his own experience as former three-term mayor of Manila where he tapped the city’s village officials in helping manage traffic.
During his nine years as mayor of Manila, Atienza said he mobilized barangay chairmen, councilmen and watchmen in helping improve conditions of secondary roads–by removing all obstructions such as dilapidated and illegally parked cars, construction debris and basketball courts.
This time, according to him, the DOTr and the MMDA, should remove all gates placed in different villages, especially in Manila, Makati City and Pasig City.
Unless these gates are removed, Atienza said, these secondary roads will become impassable to motorists.
“Depriving motorists of the use of these streets is illegal. These gates were supposedly put up by the villages for security reasons. But security should be provided by policemen and barangay watchmen,” he added.
Because the mayors have the authority and ability to solve many of the traffic problems, Atienza said, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade should work with them.
He also cited other causes of congestion, among them the continued existence of bus terminals at Buendia Avenue-Taft Avenue, with authorities allowing them to use these avenues as parking spaces.
“Mayors should be made accountable for the traffic situation in their respective localities. The Department of Interior and Local Government [DILG] should make sure that all LGUs are doing their duty in helping solve the traffic problem. If all of these very simple things can be done, there is no need for emergency powers for traffic to flow more freely. Long range solutions like an underground subway train system are a must but planning should be done now. Otherwise, this will not be completed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration,” Atienza said.