Commuters walk along EDSA as buses are trapped in a traffic gridlock.
The STAR/Boy Santos, file
MMDA needs power to pass, enforce metro-wide ordinances — solon
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - November 18, 2019 - 2:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Metro Manila Development Authority needs the power to make laws to it can do its job better, Rep. Bayani Fernando (Marikina 1st District)—a former MMDA chairman—said Monday.

Asked on ANC's "Headstart" if the MMDA has enough powers to solve Metro Manila's traffic congestion woes, he reluctantly said “yes and no.” 

He said the MMDA has enough authority "to supervise and manage the traffic," but not its other mandates.

“[MMDA] has got so many functions [like] flood control, health, [and] about seven mandates of the MMDA," he said. “[But] we're not a political subdivision, so we cannot legislate."

The MMDA's responsibilities are development planning, solid waste disposal and management, transport and traffic management, flood control and sewerage management, urban renewal, zoning, and land use planning, and shelter services, health and sanitation, urban protection, and pollution control and public safety. 

For Fernando, one crucial solution that he said would help solve traffic would be "the power to legislate, enact laws and make ordinances." Although member local government units can enact their own ordinances, he wants the MMDA, through its policy-making Metro Manila Council, the power to enact ordinances applicable across the National Capital Region. 

Special region

Fernando filed a bill in the 17th Congress—House Bill No. 6973—to give the Metro Manila Council that authority and also make Metropolitan Manila "a special development and administrative region under the direct supervision of the president of the Philippines."

The House passed the bill in February 2019 but the Senate did not pass a counterpart measure.

Fernando has filed the bill again, this time numbered House Bill No. 2141, in the 18th Congress. 

The bill would "strengthen the MMC wherein the council, composed of the mayors, can actually come up with ordinances," he explained. “But they have to be presented to the 17 LGU councils, mga Sanggunian [on] a 'yes' or 'no' vote.” 

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7924 that created the MMDA.

“[I]t would solve the problem of yung kanya-kanya. Each [LGU] has his own regulation, no uniformity. So the motoring public would be at a loss [and] would not know the rules to follow," he said of the proposed measure. 

"And they will not even know where they are, because the boundaries here are not known to people. So we really have to resolve that issue.”

RA 7924 only authorizes the council to "approve metro-wide plans, programs and projects and issue rules and regulations deemed necessary by the MMDA."

The measure seeks to allow the MMDA to “adopt and implement ordinances and other regulations that fall within its mandate upon the majority vote of the council.” Later on in Sec. 6c, an additional function of the Metro Manila Council is that it shall “prescribe, formulate and issue ordinances [...] within the mandate of the MMDA.”

According to a committee report from 2018, representatives expressed concerns over the constitutionality of the proposed measure, as well as the absence of a development plan on the part of the MMDA. 

MMDA given metro-wide authority in the past

In the past, the MMC has approved a uniform single-ticketing system in 2012, but the measure was only enforced via a resolution within the MMDA itself and never completely materialized. 

"When the MMDA was created, they actually had this problem of local autonomy. So just to at least go around it, they made the MMDA under the Office of the President, and the chairman was made a member of the Cabinet."

He said a similar move has been done in the past, as when the mandate of flood control, was, transferred to the MMDA from the Department of Public Works and Highways in 2002.

The MMDA has warned the public to expect increased traffic congestion in the coming days due to the Christmas season and preparations for the upcoming SEA Games. Recent initiatives include the rolling out of a new traffic scheme for the games and the banning of weekday mall sales approaching the yuletide season.

These come amid what groups have called a mass transportation crisis in the country as traffic congestion has hit an all time low. Most recently, Waze data declared Manila as the worst city to drive in, as the city’s traffic cost the Philippines roughly P3.5 billion per day, according to data from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. 

Fernando said that the overall expansion of powers of the MMDA should be considered amid the crisis in Metro Manila.

“It’s about time that we start this thing, because it’s [been] envisioned. The national agencies may be too busy with other areas [like] Davao and Cebu, all over,” he said. “They might as well relegate these jobs to an agency like the MMDA who can be focused on this.”

MASS TRANSPORTATION CRISIS MMC MMDA TRAFFIC CONGESTION
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