LGUs given 60 days to comply with road-clearing program
In this July 2019 file photo, officials of the Manila City government clear roads in the Philippine capital city.
Manila Public Information Office/Facebook
LGUs given 60 days to comply with road-clearing program
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - October 28, 2020 - 6:04pm

      MANILA, Philippines — Local chief executives in areas under modified general community quarantine have until mid-January to accomplish road clearing operations in the area after the program was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the interior department said Wednesday. 

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement that the resumption of the program was intended to achieve "safer and accessible roads free from illegal and potentially hazardous encroachments."

“Despite the January 15 deadline, we wish to remind the LGUs that [Road-Clearing Operation] is a year-long endeavor," he said.

Speaking at Wednesday afternoon's Laging Handa briefing, interior spokesperson Jonathan Malaya also said that areas under GCQ only had to comply with the program partially. According to Año, partial implementation is limited to the actual removal or abatement of road and sidewalk obstructions considered dangerous to motorists and pedestrians and road clearing for the purpose of establishing bike lanes. 

A separate joint administrative order between the DILG and the health, public works, and transportation departments urged local governments to construct active transport infrastructure, such as protected biking lanes and walking paths, along with supportive infrastructure including bicycle racks and changing rooms to encourage walking and cycling. 

Over a thousand Filipinos chose to bike to work in June amid restrictions on public transportation, despite the lack of safe bike lanes along major roads.

READ: LGUs told to help make biking, walking safe for commuters

"The deadline is January 15, 2021. Our LGUs have two months to continue road clearing programs in their area. If an LGU is in the MGCQ or in the new normal or they do not have the CQ classification, they are expected to fully implement the road clearing directive of the President," Malaya said. 

"But if they are in GCQ, only partial implementation. And if they are in MECQ or ECQ, suspended implementation," he added. 

President Rodrigo Duterte issued the directive in his 2019 State of the Nation Address, urging local governments to "reclaim public roads which are being used for private ends."

Under DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-027, all LGUs are ordered to remove obstructions in all provincial, city, municipal and barangay roads, and national primary and secondary roads, though the initiative was later suspended at the onset of the coronavirus-induced quarantine in March. 

The department has said that the clearing operations must have significant results otherwise appropriate administrative cases shall be filed against non-compliant local officials. Memorandum Circular No. 2020-145 later issued by the department announced that the road clearing program  would return once more starting November 16.

In the same press briefing, Malaya disclosed that some local officials appealed the quarantine status of their respective localities after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the extension of GCQ until end-November. 

READ: COVID-19 cases in Philippines climb to 375,180 with 2,053 new infections

As of the health department's latest case bulletin Wednesday afternoon, the national caseload stands at 373,144.

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