MANILA - Two senators on Tuesday agreed there is a need to review the powers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
During a Senate hearing on the MMDA’s provincial bus ban policy, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the chamber should look into giving MMDA power to formulate policies in terms of managing traffic on EDSA, a traffic-choked thoroughfare in the metro.
He noted that the avenue cuts through several cities with varying rules, making traffic management hard for the MMDA.
“I propose that we review the powers of the MMDA insofar as traffic management is concerned, because I think you can have a good debate on that,” Drilon told Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee.
Drilon made this proposal after Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares pointed out that the Supreme Court, in at least two instances, already ruled that the MMDA has no power to issue policies, a power vested on local government units (LGUs).
“It’s about time we review, given the chaotic situation… otherwise, the implementor is hamstrung by the lack of authority,” Drilon said.
“We are not depriving LGUs of any power, it’s just on that particular chaotic situation which has become so vital to our life, the management of EDSA.”
Poe agreed with Drilon, adding the chamber should also look into expanding the authority of the MMDA over nearby areas located just outside Metro Manila.
The Metro Manila Council last March issued an order closing down provincial terminals along EDSA. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board then issued a separate policy banning provincial buses from loading and unloading passengers along the thoroughfare.
The MMDA said eliminating provincial buses along EDSA would result in a smoother traffic flow.
A Quezon City court, however, issued a preliminary injunction on the bus ban.
Despite the court injunction, the MMDA proceeded with the dry run of the bus ban.
MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said the plan was to rid EDSA of some 3,400 provincial buses, which would have to drop their passengers off interim bus terminals located in the outskirts of the capital. Passengers from these drop-off points would then have to take other means of transportation, such as point-to-point buses, to get to EDSA.
Garcia said the plan to put up integrated terminals was firmed up during the time of former president Benigno Aquino III and was just continued by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. So far, only one bus terminal in Parañaque has been operational.
The Philippine capital’s traffic congestion costs the country P3.5 billion daily, a 2017 data from the Japan International Cooperation Agency showed. This could rise to P5.4 billion by 2035 if no interventions are made.