LTO ex-chief: make MMDA a political unit

(TIMES Philippines, May 22) — Transforming the government’s traffic agency into a political unit instead of a coordinating body will ensure stronger implementation of traffic and waste management policies, said the former head of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Former LTO chief Alberto Suansing says incoming Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim should push for the creation of an MMDA as a political unit, similar to a provincial government, with the chairman elected as governor.

“Kasi iba na yung mismong tao ang naglagay sa kanya sa posisyon, hinalal siya ng mga tao so as far as poder ang pinag-uusapan, mas matindi ‘yun,” Suansing told CNN Philippines in an interview on Sunday.

[Translation: It’s different when the leader is elected, when people put him in a position of power. That’s more efficient.]

At present, the MMDA chairman is appointed by the President, while the 16 cities and one municipality in the National Capital Region which form part of the MMDA elect their local government officials.

Under Republic Act 7924, the MMDA plans, monitors, and coordinates with the local government heads for metro-wide services, while the individual cities and municipalities maintain autonomy. The services include waste management, transport and traffic management, and urban development and planning.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Jose Atienza filed House Bill 4758 in January 2017 seeking to transform the MMDA into a government unit, to help address the massive traffic problem in Metro Manila.

The bill seeks to reform the MMDA into the Metro Manila Government (MMG) with an elected governor and vice governor.

According to the bill, the elected governor of the Metro Manila Government will have the same duties as the Chairman, except he will have direct accountability for the implementation of traffic policies and programs in the metro, as compared to the MMDA which is a coordinating unit.

The bill is still pending with the House Committee on Local Government.

Suansing noted how local government units have greater autonomy over policies after the Local Government Code of 1991 was passed.

Suansing added that the MMDA chairman should discipline the 10,000 traffic enforcers under their supervision.

“Nakikita naman natin na yung displina noong mga enforcers natin no. Marami sa kanila ang dapat matagal nang nasibak,” Suansing said.

[Translation: We can see the kind of discipline our enforcers have. Some of them should have been fired long ago.]

The MMDA has looked into different schemes to help ease traffic in Metro Manila since March, such as congestion pricing on Edsa, and a modified odd-even coding scheme.

About 300,000 vehicles daily use EDSA, a 23.8-kilometer road from Caloocan to Pasay City, and cuts through six cities and municipalities in metropolitan Manila.

MMDA Chair to face major challenges
Suansing said that the new MMDA chairman should also address the waste management and flood control problems.

According to the MMDA’s Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office, 5,250 cubic meters of garbage and silt from waterways in Metro Manila were collected from March 1 to May 6.

Suansing said that illegal settlers living along rivers and waterways have caused flooding due to clogging caused by trash, especially during intense rain.

“Buhayin mo yung mga estero para yung daloy ng tubig tuloy-tuloy…tapos talagang disiplina as far as ‘yung basura is concerned,” he said.

[Translation: Declog the creeks so that the water flows from one waterway to another, and there should be discipline as far as waste disposal is concerned.]

Suansing added that the MMDA should assign a common landfill far from metropolitan Manila, which produces 9212.92 tons of trash each day as of 2016.

There are two landfills operating in the metropolis: the Payatas Landfill which takes in the trash of Quezon City, and the Navotas Sanitary Landfill which serves Navotas, Malabon, and Manila. Other cities and municipalities dispose of their waste at the Rizal Provincial Landfill in Rodriguez, Rizal.