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Tugade vows to solve traffic, aviation woes

MANILA, Philippines - The Duterte administration is committed to improving the country’s traffic situation as well as in the aviation, railways and toll roads, according to newly-installed Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade.

In a press conference following the turnover ceremony of the DOTC Friday, the new Transport chief said he has changed the operational structure of the department by assigning key persons to be in-charge of the different sectors to promote responsibility and accountability.

The new undersecretaries of the department are: Anneli Lontoc (roads and infrastructure); Rommel Gavieta (planning); Felipe Judan (maritime); Garry de Guzman (administration and finance); Noel Kintanar (rails and toll roads); Roberto Lim (air and airports); and Raoul Creencia (legal and procurement).

To address the country’s traffic problem, Tugade said he would need the use of special powers.

“Basically, what would that be addressing? Unified traffic scheme or unified traffic rules,” he said.

Since local government units can impose their own traffic rules, he said the special powers would allow him to synchronize those regulations.

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To address the congestion in the country’s main international gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and encourage the use of the Clark International Airport, the new administration would pursue the railway system that would connect Manila to Clark.

Asked about the proposal to have another airport near Manila, Tugade’s personal view is to allow interested parties to put up an airport as long as there would be no cash out and no sovereign guarantee on the part of the government. The proponent would also be responsible for encouraging aircraft to land there.

On the railways sector, Tugade is hopeful a solution would be given to the common station deadlock within the first 100 days of the new administration.

The previous administration, through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), earlier proposed to have two common stations with one located near SM North EDSA mall and the other closer to the Trinoma mall, to link Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3 and the upcoming MRT-7 as compromise for allegedly breaching an agreement entered into by the LRT Authority with SM in 2009 to put up a common station for the railways near the SM North EDSA mall.

In 2014, the DOTC decided to have the common station near Ayala Group’s Trinoma mall instead of SM North EDSA mall due to savings in construction cost as well as convenience of passengers.

As the MRT-3 which covers its North Station in Quezon City until Taft Station in Pasay City has been going through a series of service interruptions and breakdowns, Kintanar said the new administration would work on increasing the railway’s capacity, improving the power supply as well as the signalling system.

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