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Why did P20-M Metro traffic lights go to Legazpi?

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Why were traffic lights worth P20 million of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) given to Legazpi City in Albay?

Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon asked this yesterday, but MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino was not present at the hearing of the House committee on Metro Manila development, where Biazon is a member.

MMDA officials who attended the hearing said the donations were used for analog traffic signal lights as the agency was shifting to a digital signaling system.

Congressmen lambasted the MMDA chief for prioritizing his senatorial bid over solving traffic woes, but Malacañang said yesterday Tolentino’s job description included provincial sorties.

Tolentino, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Winston Ginez were no-shows at the House hearing.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said traveling to the provinces, speaking before crowds and distributing multimillion-peso traffic lights fall within the functions of Tolentino.

“He is a government official. He uses legitimate resources of his office for legitimate official functions,” Coloma told a press briefing.

Coloma said Tolentino’s sorties are meant to share his knowledge and experiences on disaster preparedness, being head of the National Capital Region Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Tolentino, who is reportedly running for senator in the May 2016 elections under the Liberal Party (LP), had an advance team of MMDA personnel and equipment before he arrived in Bicol recently to donate traffic lights.

Coloma also stressed that Tolentino still enjoys the trust and confidence of President Aquino amid mounting calls for his resignation in light of the worsening traffic in Metro Manila.

Last month, journalists saw an MMDA vehicle in Cebu City when Aquino presided over a meeting on local infrastructure projects.

The President, along with national and local LP stalwarts, held at the Cebu Coliseum what they dubbed as a “Gathering of Friends.”

It was there that Tolentino told the crowd that the MMDA also stands for “Mahal Mo Din Ako.”

At the same event, two more perceived senatorial aspirants – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. director Risa Hontiveros – spoke about the successful programs of the Aquino administration.

No exemptions

Chief Supt. Arnold Gunnacao, chief of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) of the Philippine National Police, told lawmakers yesterday that the HPG would do its best to ease traffic along EDSA, where they were ordered deployed by President Aquino.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo asked Gunnacao whether the HPG would also go after vehicles with protocol plates No. 8, reserved for House members.

“Yes sir, if they violate the traffic laws, we will apprehend them,” Gunnacao replied.

The HPG chief said government vehicles will not be spared if they violate any of the regulations.- With Delon Porcalla

 

ACIRC AQUINO ARNOLD GUNNACAO CEBU CITY CEBU COLISEUM CHAIRMAN FRANCIS TOLENTINO COLOMA LEGAZPI METRO MANILA PRESIDENT AQUINO TOLENTINO TRAFFIC
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