2010 News

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DECEMBER 29, 2010

Metro Aide Sweeper Dies, Traffic Enforcer Seriously Injured in Two Separate Road Accidents

A street sweeper of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) died in a hospital last Tuesday after being hit by a speeding motorcycle while on duty along Sergio Osmeña Highway in Makati City.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino has condoled with the family of 28-year-old Reynaldo Pascual, a Laborer II on job order status with the Landscaping Group-Environmental Management Division.

"Mr. Pascual deserves our respect. Even during the holidays, he was at his post doing his work. It is sad that the recklessness of some motorists would result to this unnecessary loss of precious life," Tolentino said.

Pascual, a resident of San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City, died of hemorrhage Tuesday morning at the Ospital ng Makati, a day after he was sideswiped by a motorcycle along the northbound lane of Sergio Osmeña Highway in Barangay Pio Del Pilar, Makati.

Francisco Martinez, head of the MMDA Landscaping Group, said Pascual was crossing the road when he was hit by the motorcycle driven by one Eric John Ranao, of Sucat, Paranaque City, at around 7:45 am last Monday.

Pascual was thrown a few meters away while the wayward motorcycle skidded towards the center island and scaled the gutter, injuring Ranao and his back rider Manuel Dela Rosa.

Immediately after the accident, Tolentino sent financial aid to take care of Pascual's medical expenses. He died the following day, however.

Tolentino also gave burial assistance to the victim's family. Ranao and Dela Rosa's company has also pledged financial assistance.

Pascual's remains lie in wake in Project 7, Quezon City.

The Makati accident took place two days after an MMDA traffic enforcer figured in another accident on Christmas Day in Cubao, Quezon City.

Edwin Villar, 42, a member of the MMDA motorcycle unit, is currently in critical condition at the East Avenue Medical Center for severe head injuries.

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DECEMBER 17, 2010

MMDA Grants Truck Ban Exemptions to More Fuel Tankers

To forestall a fuel shortage that could be brought about by the continued closure of the First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC) pipeline, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) granted additional truck ban exemptions to fuel tankers and lorries of other oil industry players, in addition to those already granted to Shell and Chevron.

After a meeting with officials of the Department of Energy (DOE), Chairman Francis Tolentino approved the issuance of exemptions to 100 units belonging to Petron, Total, Sea Oil, Jetti, and Fil Pride.

"We will maintain the status quo on the exemptions of the 146 tankers of Shell and Chevron, which were directly affected by the closure. The additional exemptions for the other oil companies will help increase fuel supply in Metro Manila," Tolentino said.

Department of Energy figures showed that around 1.8 million liters of fuel demand could not be met by Shell and Chevron with the pipeline closure. Tolentino said the granting of additional exemptions was based on the volume of fuel demand not met by Shell and Chevron divided by the average lorry capacity.

Out of the 100 additional exemptions, 76 were issued to Petron, 14 for Total, 6 for Sea Oil, and 2 each for Jetti and Fil Pride.

The allocation of the tankers to be exempted among the other oil companies was based on the percentage of their market share based on DOE statistics.

The exempted units will be issued individual certificates of exemption. Mondays and Fridays shall be excluded from the coverage.

The exemption is not applicable along Roxas Boulevard, Taft Avenue, and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue and will be valid until January 3 of next year.

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DECEMBER 16, 2010

MMC Increases Penalty for Stalled Vehicles

To encourage motorists to maintain the road worthiness of their vehicles, the Metro Manila Council (MMC) has agreed to increase to up to P3,000 the current P200 penalty for stalled vehicles.

Voting en banc, the 20-member MMC, the policy and governing body of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), passed a resolution last Tuesday amending MMDA Regulation No. 96-003 which provides the guidelines in the towing of stalled or illegally parked vehicles along major thoroughfares of Metro Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino reasoned out that the increase is needed if only to goad private motorists and operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to properly maintain their vehicles.

Echoing the observation of the MMC members, Tolentino reiterated that illegally parked vehicles and those that suffer malfunction while on national highways greatly contribute to traffic congestion, especially during this holiday rush.

"These vehicles get stalled in the roads because most probably, their engines are not properly maintained. We are only hoping that motorists, including PUV operators, would be more responsible in maintaining the road worthiness of their motor vehicles," the MMDA chief said.

Under MMDA Regulation No. 96-003, PUV operators or owners of private vehicles are fined P200 if their vehicles stall on major roads. For illegally parked vehicles, owners are charged with obstruction which entails a fine of P150.

During the MMC meeting at the Muntinlupa City Hall last Tuesday, the MMC agreed to increase the P200 fine to P1,500 for light vehicles; P2,500 for medium-sized and P3,000 for heavy vehicles such as trucks and lorries.

This is on top of the regular towing fees imposed on the owner of the stalled vehicle. For trucks with gross capacity weight of 4,000 kilos and above, the corresponding towing fee is P1,200 for the first four kilometers and P200 for every succeeding kilometer.

Cars, jeeps, and pick-up vans having less than 4,000-kilo gross weight are charged P800 for the first four kilometers and P200 for every succeeding kilometer. `

The fines and towing fees shall be paid within three days from the date of the apprehension and towing, otherwise a daily impounding fee will be imposed on the owner of the towed vehicle, according to Tolentino.

For the first two months that the towed vehicle remains unclaimed, P40 day will be charged to the owner and P60 a day for the third and fourth months, and P80 a day for the fifth and succeeding months.

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DECEMBER 15, 2010

MMC Requests LTFRB to Involve MMDA and LGUs in Approving Franchise Applications of Public Transportations

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution requesting the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to allow the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the local government units in Metro Manila to have a say in the review and approval of applications for franchises of public transport companies.

The 20-member MMC, the policy-making body of the MMDA, specifically urged the LTFRB's parent agency, the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), to let the MMC sit in the Road Measurement Capacity (RMC) Group, the LTFRB body that determines if there is a need to introduce new franchises in certain routes.

"The mayors should be involved in the decision-making process when it comes to giving out franchises to transport operators. They know the situation on the ground. They know the capacities of local road networks and they would know if there is a need to have more PUV units passing through their jurisdiction," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said during the MMC meeting at the Muntinlupa City Hall last Tuesday.

As early as 2007, the MMDA has been requesting the LTFRB to require operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to secure clearance from the MMDA and permit from the concerned LGUs before applying for a franchise to operate.

Tolentino said it has been the observation of the MMC that the LTFRB has been issuing new franchises over the years without consulting the LGUs concerned. With lack of accurate information from the concerned localities, this results to almost yearly increase in the number of PUVs plying the major and secondary roads.

Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, a strong supporter of the proposal, said any application for new or renewal of Certificates of Public Convenience (CPC) within the National Capital Region (NCR) should have the endorsement of the MMC.

With MMC on board, the LTFRB's system of granting CPCs to PUV operators will be streamlined and further improved, with the primary objective of reducing traffic congestion, he pointed out.

Tolentino added that this proposed system is also needed to ensure that only legitimate PUV operators, especially bus companies, and those with clean records will be given franchises to operate.

In explaining the legal basis for the MMDA to take part in the review and approval of CPCs, he cited Republic Act 7924, the MMDA charter, which mandates the agency "to manage transport and traffic in Metro Manila, which includes the formulation, coordination, and monitoring of policies, standards, programs and projects to rationalize the existing transport operations."

The LGUs, on other hand, is also empowered by the Local Government Code to regulate the use of streets, avenues, alleys, sidewalks, and other public places, and regulate garages and the operation of conveyances for hire, Tolentino added.

During the MMDA's traffic summit on December 3, Tolentino proposed the amendment of Executive Order 202, the LTFRB mandate, to require PUV operators to seek clearance from the MMDA and LGUs before applying for CPC.

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DECEMBER 14, 2010

MMDA to Lead Inaugural of "Layag Islas"

Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will lead the inaugural of the "Layag Islas" structure at the Circulo Del Mundo Rotunda fronting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in Pasay City.

The event, which will start at 5:30 in the afternoon, will be graced by Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto along with other local government officials, and various stakeholders.

"Layag Islas" (Islands in Flight), is the award-winning concept for the Circulo Del Mundo Rotunda Nationwide Design Competition held on 2008. It is a joint undertaking of the MMDA and the Manila International Airport Authority to showcase Metro Manila as the window of the country to the world.

"I hope the public will appreciate the beauty of this structure as it is a proof of the Filipino's artistic excellence," Tolentino said.

The construction of the structure started on September 11, 2009 and was completed on August this year. It summarizes the Filipino's rich cultural heritage and profound sense of affinity with the global community.

Designed by Adrian Lorenzo Alfonso, Alfredo Alfonso, Maria Mynn Alfonso, Carlo Tibajua, and Chris Jimenez, "Layag Islas" is conceived to be the embodiment of the Filipino's dreams and aspirations.

The MMDA chief said he is optimistic that this architectural landmark will further encourage artists to create world-class works of arts.

The structure is considered as one of the vital components of the physical improvement projects of the agency within the immediate vicinity of the NAIA to enhance the image of the airport complex to be at par with other similar facilities worldwide.

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DECEMBER 14, 2010

MMDA Deploys Additional Traffic Enforcers to Guide Motorists on the Christmas Lanes

Starting today, hundreds of additional traffic enforcers will be deployed by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on the designated Christmas lanes to guide motorists using the alternate routes.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said personnel from the agency's Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group, Roadway Clearing Operations Group, and volunteers will augment the existing traffic workforce to supervise vehicular as well as pedestrian traffic in the metropolis.

"The MMDA has already put in place necessary contingent measures in response to heavier traffic as Christmas nears. I am hoping the public will cooperate with us on all aspects for their own convenience," Tolentino said.

Most of the additional enforcers will be deployed on the Christmas lanes to assist motorists using these routes. In the spirit of Christmas, they will be wearing glowing Santa Claus hats.

In addition to the increased manpower, the agency has also finished the installation of 500 directional signages on the Christmas lanes and cleared the roads of all kinds of obstructions, including illegal terminals.

According to the MMDA chief, the Department of Public Works and Highways has also completed the repair of around eighty percent of the secondary roads comprising the Christmas lanes.

Meanwhile, travel speed along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa) has increased by more than fourteen percent after the implementation of the Christmas lanes.

In a study conducted by the agency's Traffic and Transport Management Office, travel time from Roxas Boulevard to Edsa decreased by more than three minutes, from fifty two minutes and forty five seconds before the opening of the Christmas lanes to forty nine minutes and twenty four seconds after the introduction of the Christmas lanes.

Travel speed went up to 32.07 kilometers per hour (kph) from the previous 27.98 kph.

"This improvement cannot be attributed to the putting up of Christmas lanes alone, but also to the high visibility of our traffic enforcers during this Christmas season and the continuous implementation of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program or number coding," Tolentino said.

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DECEMBER 10, 2010

MMDA Uncovers New Modus Operandi Used by Bus Companies to Circumvent Anti-Colorum Law

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) apprehended three colorum provincial buses and in turn uncovered a new modus operandi being employed by bus operators to circumvent the law.

The three bogus bus units were flagged down on separate occasions along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa) by the agency's Task Force Kaayusan for having improvised plates. They were brought to the MMDA impounding area in Ortigas.

There it was discovered that the buses' license plates were counterfeit and that stickers were used to cover the bus company's real name painted on the units. The real name, as it turned out, was not registered with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). On the other hand, the name indicated on the stickers were registered, but the units themselves were not part of the fleet.

Chairman Francis Tolentino dubbed the units as "botcha buses" for committing multiple violations of existing laws governing public utility vehicles.

"This is a double-kill on the part of the bus operator. Aside from the fake license plates, they also tried to mislead government authorities of their company's real identity and are operating without valid franchises," Tolentino said.

According to the MMDA chief, the case will be referred to the Department of Justice, the Land Transportation Office and the LTFRB for proper disposition.

"This is a brazen display of wanton disregard for the law by unscrupulous people. They are becoming more creative in finding ways to outwit the authorities. But rest assured that we will double our efforts to outsmart them and fight these malpractices," Tolentino stressed.

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DECEMBER 10, 2010

MMDA Suspends All Diggings and Excavations on Roads Right-of-Way

Effective midnight of Dec. 15 until January 2 next year, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is suspending all diggings and excavations on all roadways in the metropolis in anticipation of the increase in the volume of vehicles and pedestrian traffic this Christmas season.

In a one-page memorandum circular released yesterday to all concerned offices of the MMDA, including the regional offices and engineering districts of local government units (LGUs), utility companies and contractors, Chairman Francis Tolentino suspended any digging on the road right-of-way, including passageways and sidewalks within the city or municipality of Metro Manila for the installation, repair or improvement of water pipes, telephone or telegraph wires or cable conduits, sewers and drainage systems, communication and power line improvements being undertaken by any government agency, public and private contractors pursuant to pertinent provisions of an ordinance governing road diggings/excavations and restoration in Metro Manila or MMDA Ordinace No. 2, Series of 1991

Tolentino said the MMDA is suspending any digging or unearthing on the streets and thoroughfares because of the projected increase in the number of vehicles and pedestrian traffic brought about by the onset of the Yuletide season.

"We deemed it necessary to impose the moratorium in response to the plaints of the public, that government should ease traffic congestion caused by road diggings, especially during Christmas time," he said

The chairman clarified, though that the moratorium does not apply to flagship projects of the government even as he advised all public and government agencies concerned to undertake appropriate measures to ensure that roadways that have been dug up have been properly restored, passable, clean and serviceable to all vehicles and pedestrians during the period.

Tolentino warned that violators of the said prohibition will be meted fines of not less than P3000 but not more than P10,000, or imprisonment of not less than 30 days but not more than six months, or both fine and imprisonment as decided by the court.

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DECEMBER 9, 2010

MMDA Twitter Team Now Online 24/7

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today announced the 24/7 operations of its Twitter team to provide continuous online public service.

The agency's Twitter account (http://twitter.com/MMDA), launched last August, now has over 31,000 followers and continues to gain an average of 250 new followers daily.

Composed of eight personnel, the dedicated Twitter team works on three shifts to monitor and respond to all queries regarding traffic and flood situations all over the metropolis.

"Our Twitter account was recognized by no less than the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office for being the most active among the government agencies and bloggers have been praising it for the efficient and quick responses. Our team tries to answer all queries within 2 to 3 minutes," Tolentino said.

Recently, it has been included in a major broadsheet's list of top 25 Pinoy Twitter accounts the public should be following.

In line with his concept of civil will, the MMDA chief encouraged the residents of Metro Manila to help the agency by submitting traffic and flood reports using the #MMDA hashtag.

"Just by searching the hashtag, the public can view the reports submitted by concerned citizens. This is a very helpful tool in information-sharing, without unnecessarily flooding our followers' Twitter timelines," Tolentino said.

Further, Tolentino enjoined everybody to use the MMDA's Twitter account in reporting vehicular accidents and road obstructions so the agency can act on it immediately. He also encourages everyone to check the MMDA account before heading out so that the public may know the traffic situation in the roads they will be passing.

"But everyone should be reminded that they should not tweet and drive. Let us not forget road safety," Tolentino stressed.

The Twitter account was introduced four months ago to foster faster exchange of information with the public and deliver prompt and up-to-date traffic information and other important matters.

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DECEMBER 9, 2010

MMDA Proposes Enactment of Motorcycle Safety Attire Law

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is proposing the enactment of legislative measures requiring motorcycle riders to wear appropriate safety attire to curb the increasing rates of fatal road accidents involving motorcycles.

Chairman Francis Tolentino presented the idea during the Transport and Traffic Summit held last week at the Philippine Social Science Center in Quezon City.

In addition to the appropriate safety attire, Tolentino said the use of good quality helmets which conform to international standards should also be strictly enforced among riders, as well as the prohibition of a third passenger.

"There is an existing policy on this by the Land Transportation Office (LTO), as well as other similar city ordinances in effect. But unfortunately, there is laxity in the enforcement of these rules. I believe it is best to turn this policy into law for it to have more teeth," Tolentino said.

LTO Administrative Order Number AHS-2008-015 prescribes rules and regulations on the use and operation of motorcycles on highways.

Under the policy, failure of the driver and/or the passenger or back rider to wear the standard helmet would have him fined P1, 500. Drivers must also not wear flip flops, sandals or slippers or drive bare-footed or be fined of P500, P700 and P1,000 and revocation of driver's license for the first, second and third offenses, respectively.

In line with this, Tolentino ordered the agency's traffic enforcers to strictly implement the "no helmet, no travel" policy on major thoroughfares and secondary roads.

The MMDA chief stressed that this is for the protection of the riders and warned that violators will be apprehended and meted the corresponding penalties.

"I'm appealing to the local government units to likewise be strict on this matter and introduce other measures that will promote the safety of the riders," Tolentino said.

As an additional safety feature, Tolentino also wants motorcycles to have a system where the headlights automatically switch on during engine ignition.

Tolentino explained the motorcycle headlights should be on even during daytime to allow maximum visibility in the roads.

"I understand that several manufacturing firms have been putting this feature on their motorcycles. We hope that this will become a standard regulation among companies manufacturing and selling motorcycles," he said.

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DECEMBER 8, 2010

MMDA Features Indie Films at Robinson's Galleria Starting December 16

As a pre-festival offering, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will show five independent films starting December 16 at the Robinson's Galleria in Ortigas.

The special screening is aimed to promote quality independent films which are usually acclaimed in various film festivals abroad and had earned worldwide accolades but have not been shown commercially in the Philippines.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the event is MMDA's way of helping small film producers promote their works and to revive public interest and patronage for the local film industry.

One movie will be shown each day until December 20 at 7:00 p.m. at Cinema 3 of Robinson's Galleria.

"Nasaan si Hefte" will be the initial offering of the event. Directed by Jonah Lim, it is a story about seven-year old boy Hefte who was declared missing, found in the garage after six years, and mysteriously claims to be another person.

"Presa" will be shown on the second day (December 17). Starred by veteran actresses Anita Linda, Daria Ramirez, Perla Bautista, and Liza Lorena, the film touches on the story of an 85-year old prisoner who tries to rethink her life and reconcile with her loved-ones as she awaits presidential pardon in the Women's Correctional on Christmas Day. Also parts of the movie are Rosanna Roces, Tetchie Agbayani, and Jodi Sta. Maria.

On December 18, "Senior Year" will be on the spot light. It tackles the struggles of students during the final month before graduation and features the complexities of adulthood. The movie is directed by Gerold Tarog.

A movie about an overseas Filipino worker who turned amok after losing his job and catching his woman with another lover will be shown on December 19. Rated R18 by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, "Rindido" stars Noriel Jarito, Banjo Romero, Vic Tiro, and Chanel Latorre.

The last day will showcase "Slow Fade", a story about Darius, a frustrated filmmaker afflicted with a terminal illness who rediscovers his long-forgotten craft. By doing a series of videos about himself and his community, he remembers the beauty of life.

One segment of the Awards Night Program scheduled on December 26 shall be dedicated to the independent filmmakers to highlight their participation in the MMFF. Special citations will be given to all participating films.

One entry will be given the award for Achievement in Technical Excellence and shall receive a sponsorship from Fuji Film to convert the film into 35 millimeter picture for showing in regular commercial run after January 7, 2011.

"I am hopeful that the moviegoers will support this event and continue to patronize all the entries to the annual Metro Manila Film Festival which is set to open on Christmas Day," Tolentino said.

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DECEMBER 8, 2010

Traffic Summit Participants Support MMDA Proposals to Improve Transport and Traffic System

Participants in the traffic summit led by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) last week have agreed to support and adopt the various legislative and administrative proposals of MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino in improving the traffic and transport system in Metro Manila.

In the conclusion of the one-day Transport and Traffic Entry Summit held at the Philippine Social Science Center in Quezon City on December 3, government agencies and local government units also firmed up their commitment to conduct consultative meetings with various stakeholders until mid-February next year to work on the MMDA's proposals, including the Metro Manila Traffic and Transport Action Plan (MMTTAP) 2010-2016.

"The working version of this Plan is the all-of-government version of the plan. It will be subjected to consultative meetings with stakeholders over the next two months," Tolentino said.

He pointed out that these consultations will not be "one-shot" affairs, but will be institutionalized through the organization of subgroups composed of government, private sector, and civil society organizations and representatives from the academe and media.

MMTTAP primarily aims to project a single unified government campaign to improve traffic and traffic conditions in the metropolis. The initiatives outlined in this plan are classified into immediate term (January 2011-June 2011), short-term (January 2011-December 2013), and medium-term (January 2011-June 2016).

Tolentino led the signing on December 3 of the Metro Manila Traffic and Transport System Declaration 2010, which, among others, commits participating agencies to mobilize teams to engage in the multi-stakeholder meetings.

The declaration also enjoined the participating agencies "to re-visit legislative documents, ordinances and resolutions that contradict the promotion of the goals of safety, mobility, civility, and productivity in the field of transport and traffic management."

The signatories were Transportation Secretary Jose De Jesus, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Jr., Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and Tolentino.

Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, NCRPO Director Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, and Marikina City Mayor Del De Guzman also signed as witnesses in the Metro Manila Traffic and Transport System Declaration 2010.

"I am overwhelmed by the commitment of support and cooperation of other government agencies in making these visions a reality. With the cooperation of the LGUs, the public, and the private sector, it is not impossible to come up with a seamless traffic and transport plan to help address the traffic problems plaguing Metro Manila," Tolentino stressed.

During the entry summit, the MMDA chairman outlined 18 proposals to improve traffic, which also includes proposed amendments to the mandate of some agencies such as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Aside from a single ticketing system in Metro Manila, Tolentino also proposed that the MMDA and the local government units be given the say in the review and approval of applications for franchises of public transport firms in order to weed out colorum and abusive transport operators.

To do this, the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the governing body of the MMDA composed of the 17 mayors of Metro Manila, shall act as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for the National Capital Region, according to Tolentino.

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DECEMBER 7, 2010

MMDA Clears Road Obstructions along Christmas Lanes

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today announced it has cleared more than fifty percent of the designated Christmas lanes of road obstructions for the convenience of the motorists plying the routes.

According to Chairman Francis Tolentino, various roads comprising the Christmas lanes or alternate routes were also repaired by the Department of Public Works and Highways to ensure unhampered vehicular flow.

Tolentino cited the removal of the median islands along the Roxas Boulevard service roads, particularly in front of the Aloha Hotel, all the way to T.M. Kalaw, to free up some road space.

"Directional signs have already been put up by our Traffic Engineering Center to guide the drivers using these routes and we have also deployed appropriate number of traffic enforcers to these areas," Tolentino said.

The Christmas lanes were introduced by the MMDA early last week in line with its continuous efforts to decongest Edsa particularly during the Christmas season when traffic is usually heavy.

Tolentino urged private motorists to try using the alternate routes and avoid passing through Edsa especially during the rush hours.

The Christmas lanes maps can be viewed at the agency's website (www.mmda.gov.ph).

Meanwhile, Tolentino also appealed to the public to be more safety-conscious particularly during the holiday season when road accident rates are unusually high.

"I want to remind the motorists to avoid drunk driving. Most of the people involved in accidents during this season are drivers driving under the influence of alcohol, particularly those coming from Christmas parties," Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief encouraged carpooling among officemates and friends attending parties to minimize road mishaps during the festive season.

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DECEMBER 3, 2010

MMDA Opens "Christmas Lanes"

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has opened its so-called "Christmas lanes" that will serve as alternate routes for motorists using Edsa.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino today said these "Christmas lanes", which will help decongest Edsa, should be used by private motorists during the Christmas season when traffic is usually heavy.

"For their own convenience, we are asking the public to use these alternate routes. We will clear these routes of obstructions and detail traffic enforcers to assist them," Tolentino said during a meeting with mall operators and representatives of commercial districts along Edsa at the MMDA office in Makati.

Tolentino said he has also directed the Traffic Engineering Center (TEC) and the various concerned units of the agency to put up directional signs along the Christmas lane routes to guide motorists.

To ensure unimpeded travel, the MMDA will also conduct continuous clearing of all forms of obstructions along these routes. Potholes and other road nuisances will also be immediately repaired.

Tolentino said these alternate routes are not being utilized fully, resulting to further congestion in Edsa. He pointed out that these were the same routes used during the construction of the Edsa Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 in the late ‘90's.

The Christmas lanes start at both north and south entry points of Edsa. For northbound motorists going south, they may use McArthur Highway, right turn to Samson Road, C-4/Letre, R-10, A. Bonifacio, Roxas Boulevard to destination.

For motorists coming from the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), they can exit at various points, most importantly at the newly constructed Mindanao Avenue access ramp. (Please see attached map and files).

From south to north, the Christmas lanes start at Coastal Road and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

"Our objective is for private motorists to bypass Edsa, thus, reducing traffic volume along Edsa," Tolentino stressed.

He said once this is successful, the Christmas lanes will eventually be renamed "Mabuhay lanes."

(View map and details)

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DECEMBER 2, 2010

Metro Manila Transport and Traffic Management Summit Opens Tomorrow

The Metro Manila Transport and Traffic Management Summit opens tomorrow (Dec. 3) to firm up the collaborative efforts of the government, private sector and civil society stakeholders in laying out a seamless traffic and transport plan to help address the perennial traffic problems plaguing the metropolis.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said the whole-day summit at the Philippine Social Science Center in Quezon City will be attended by Cabinet members and a core group consisting of representatives from lead government agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, Department of Transport and Communication, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Philippine Coast Guard, local traffic bureaus of the 17 local government units in the National Capital Region. The participants will jointly lay out a listing of "immediate doables" intended to help improve the traffic situation prevailing in Metro Manila.

"We are optimistic that the event will be an effective starting point to improve Metro Manila's traffic and transport system because the MMDA, in the spirit of enlightened and responsible governance, has joined forces with stakeholders to address perennial traffic and transport problems, enforce traffic rules and restore order in the streets," Tolentino said.

Preparations have been underway as early as last month when stakeholders buckled down to work in a series of consultative meetings and workshops to draw up focal areas for the Metro Manila Traffic and Transport action Plan for 2010 to 2016 and to take a concerted, comprehensive and sustained action to achieve the goals of safety, order and convenience in the use of the streets and transport facilities in Metro Manila.

The focal areas in the proposed plan, which include enforcement of laws, ordinances and regulations, ethical and environmental concerns, among other things, have been categorized into immediate doables, short-term initiatives and medium-term initiatives.

The stakeholders have so far come up with the following immediate doables in a bid to enhance traffic and transport conditions namely: the no plate, no travel campaign, accident resolution time reduction, authorized vehicle units in authorized routes only, strict vehicle inspection, motorcycle and bike lanes, evaluation of u-turn slots, adoption of traffic engineering standards, standard road signs, bus loading and unloading segregation schemes, resolution of road conflicts, anti-overloading measures, vehicle emission standards enforcement, comprehensive road use education campaign and the non-contact apprehension system.

At tomorrow's summit, dubbed as an "entry" summit, the participants are expected to sign a covenant affirming their commitment to improve Metro Manila's traffic and transport system.

Tolentino said two more summits, including workshops, will be conducted next year to complete the proposed traffic and transport plan.

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NOVEMBER 29, 2010

MMDA Chairman Creates Special Team to Oversee EDSA Traffic

Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis N. Tolentino yesterday declared the creation of the E. de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) Special Transport and Traffic Zone. In line with this, the MMDA Chairman ordered newly-installed MMDA Undersecretary Alex Cabanilla to oversee traffic enforcement along EDSA. Undersecretary Cabanilla will be assisted by MMDA Assistant General Manager for Operations - OIC Atty. Emerson S. Carlos, District Ground Commander Major Epifanio Domingo and working team supervisors Gen. Maximo B. Dilla, Col. Eduardo Untalan and Capt. Dante Langkit.

At simple rites held at the Fort Bonifacio PA Grandstand in Taguig City, the MMDA Chairman and the aforesaid MMDA officials viewed a pass in review and spoke briefly to more than 400 traffic enforcers stationed or assigned along EDSA.

"I urge you to honestly perform your duties to manage traffic along EDSA," the Chairman said, exhorting the enforcers to live by the MMDA motto: Marangal, Matapat, Disiplinado Ako.

The MMDA head also commended Traffic Aides Ruben Esturia, Lorence Geronimo, Marlo Morales, Jefferson Ariola, Ireneo Ibaya and Noah Orejo for their key assistance and participation during the apprehension of three (3) armed robbers at Ipi, Rosario, Pasig City at early dawn of November 5, 2010.

"The laudable act you displayed in the performance of your sworn duty is a proof of your bravery and dedication to duty," said the MMDA Chairman. "I commend you for a job well done."

Chairman Tolentino reiterated incentives for exemplary traffic enforcers which include scholarship grants, awards and citations.

Newly-installed MMDA Undersecretary Alex Cabanilla added that EDSA is the face of MMDA. "We should do well here since this is the catalyst of our performance on traffic management," he said. Cabanilla urged enforcers to promote the buddy system and generate a spirit of cooperation. He advocated the adoption of car pooling, and increased vigilance for motorists involved in traffic accidents and congestion.

He added: "The creation of the EDSA Special Transport and Traffic Zone is a management approach to handle the EDSA traffic gridlock. We will group our enforcers into teams that will be accountable for their respective areas. We will strengthen existing monitoring systems and put in place people who can be relied and depended upon to enforce traffic rules and regulations."

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NOVEMBER 22, 2010

MMDA and Commercial Districts Get Ready for the Holiday Season Traffic

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today met officials of the two biggest commercial districts in Metro Manila, Ortigas Center and Ayala Center, to come up with coordinated measures to ease traffic congestion along Edsa this Christmas season.

Tolentino urged the Ortigas Center Association, Inc. (OCAI) and Ayala Properties, and also the representatives of SM Megamall and Robinson's Galleria, to do their part in helping the public by closely working with the MMDA in managing traffic along the 28-kilometer Edsa.

"Traffic is everybody's concern. We should look at it holistically rather than limiting our concerns to within one area of jurisdiction only," Tolentino told officials of the OCAI and Ayala Properties during a meeting at the MMDA office in Makati this morning.

Also present at the meeting were officials of the Makati Parking Authority (MAPA) and traffic officials from the city government of Pasig.

Tolentino said these two commercial districts are significant components of the traffic situation in Edsa. SM Megamall, for instance, is the largest mall located in Ortigas Center.

The MMDA chief appealed to SM Megamall to inform the MMDA at least two weeks before holding shopping sale promos that attract a huge number of shoppers and vehicular traffic.

"Our experience is that during any sale, traffic leading to and from SM Megamall along Edsa is terrible. We should be notified beforehand so we could plan and make contingencies," Tolentino said.

Tolentino also discussed with the Ayala and MAPA representatives the traffic bottleneck at the Edsa-Ayala Avenue intersection, saying that traffic lights along the stretch of Ayala should be synchronized to allow a faster flow of traffic into the Makati Central Business District during morning rush hour.

MMDA Traffic Engineering Center statistics show that 1,896 vehicles enter Ayala Avenue from Edsa southbound every hour during the morning rush while 1,309 come from Magallanes.

The MMDA chairman also discussed with OCAI a plan to carve out a loading and unloading point at Onyx Avenue to accommodate AUVs that unload passengers along Meralco Avenue near the foot of the Meralco flyover.

Tolentino tasked newly-appointed MMDA Undersecretary Alex Cabanilla to oversee the strict implementation of these measures and other measures discussed during the meeting.

"This is only the start of the things that we will be doing for the next few months to relieve Edsa of traffic congestion," he pointed out.

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NOVEMBER 18, 2010

MMDA Chairman Tolentino and 11 Asian Leaders Sign the Tokyo Declaration

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino and other Asian governors and mayors have agreed to further strengthen cross-border collaboration to ensure the continuous growth of the Asian region.

During the 9th plenary meeting of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21) in Tokyo, Japan last week, Tolentino and leaders of the 11-member cities signed the Tokyo Declaration, signifying their commitment to closely work together towards the common goal of sustained prosperity in Asia.

"This is very fruitful and successful meeting. We are proud that the MMDA and the Metropolitan Manila will play a major role in the concerted effort to promote the economic growth of our region," Tolentino said after returning from a two-day international conference in Japan, which was held from November 8-9.

Tolentino said the MMDA will have much to learn from its Asian neighbors in wide range of programs, such as the sharing of expertise in technology, crisis management and measures against infectious diseases, and in sports, culture and the performing arts.

Tolentino was invited to the meeting by no less than Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, one of the founding leaders of ANMC21, an international network of Asian capital and major cities which undertake joint projects regarding crisis management, environmental countermeasures and industrial development.

The organization currently has 11 member-cities: Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Yangon, and Metro Manila.

Under the Tokyo Declaration, the Asian leaders agreed that it is essential to promote the development of new technologies and bolster cross-border collaboration not only with the member-cities but most importantly with the private sector.

To turn this into reality, the leaders pledged to deepen economic exchanges through the ANMC21, which will include the provision of opportunities for cities to introduce to each other their industries and technologies.

"The rich potentials of Asia are now flowering and our region has taken on a significant role in the world economy," the declaration stated.

Tolentino said he and other Asian leaders recognize that with economic growth and urbanization in Asia comes increasingly serious concerns about water quality, air pollution, waste disposal, and other issues related to urban environment.

There are also demands for implementation of environmental measures on a global scale, such as realizing a low-carbon society, the Asian leaders said.

In order to resolve these challenges, the Asian leaders said cross-border exchanges should not be limited to only conventional government-to-government programs. Rather it should also embrace active involvement of a wide range of entities such as private enterprise and the citizenry.

Tolentino said he was able to share with other Asian leaders the various public-partner partnership programs the MMDA has been implementing in Metro Manila.

"We, the member-cities of the ANMC21, will study concrete measures at working-level meetings, promote public-private cooperation, share best practices, and establish multifaceted, cooperative relations in a variety of areas including economy, culture, and development of human resources," the Tokyo Declaration concluded.

(View text of Tokyo Declaration)

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NOVEMBER 17, 2010

MMDA Completes Metro Flood Control Plan

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino personally handed over to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III yesterday at Malacañang Palace a comprehensive integrated flood control plan geared to minimizing and addressing the perennial flood problems besetting Metro Manila.

The four-volume document entitled "Flooding Situation in Metro Manila" provides a detailed assessment of the flooding situation in the metropolis, citing several factors which cause floods based on the evaluation of historical events.

It aims to provide all concerned government agencies, local government units, and other policy-making bodies with comprehensive information on the available flood control programs and projects to address the age-old problem of flooding in the region.

According to Tolentino, the new plan responds to the current needs of Metro Manila as the one currently in use was formulated circa 1952.

"The last flood control plan was prepared in 1952. Most of the ideas included in it may already be superseded because of the changes in land use and in the landscape of the metropolis," Tolentino said.

However, the MMDA chief stressed that previous plans and studies were cited and considered in the assessment.

The document is a joint undertaking of the MMDA's Office of the Assistant General Manager for Planning and the Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office. It is a result of intensive reviews, data assessment and information gathering done by technical experts for the past two months.

Volume I presents the preliminary assessment of the flooding situation in Metro Manila, with a background on the physical characteristics of the region. It also identifies the eight perennial flood-prone areas.

The second volume details recommended interventions in flood reduction and measures to address flooding.

Volume III incorporates various flood preparedness guidelines including life-saving procedures and protocols.

The last volume compiles legal issuances on flood control management and other relevant information on the matter.

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NOVEMBER 15, 2010

MMDA Contingency Preparations to Counter Bus Operators' Strike a Success!

The contingency preparations made by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) successfully countered the effects of the strike initiated by various bus operators today in protest to the re-implementation of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the number coding scheme.

As early as 3 am, agency vehicles were dispatched along the major thoroughfares to provide free rides to the public which might be affected by the strike.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the strike failed to paralyze transportation in Metro Manila, as there are still bus companies which did not join the action and continue to ply their routes.

"The strike had very minimal effect and I am grateful to the commuting public for their understanding," Tolentino said.

Around eighty one MMDA vehicles were dispatched along Commonwealth Avenue, Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa), and Roxas Boulevard to ferry passengers for free.

Other government agencies such as the Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Local Government, and several local government units also had their buses provide free rides.

Tolentino said the MMDA also got the cooperation of the Armed Forces, which deployed several of its transport trucks to help ferry stranded commuters.

To secure commuters and buses that did not join the strike, the Philippine National Police (PNP) also sent patrols in major roads, he added.

Tolentino said bus firms that participated in the strike should be sanctioned by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for violation of their certificate of public conveyance.

"The problem is not the number coding, the real problem started when bus operators suddenly refused to comply and ply their routes," the MMDA chief pointed out.

He stressed that the MMDA is only enforcing MMDA Resolution 10-16 re-implementing UVVRP on city and provincial buses.

"This resolution is approved for implementation by the Metro Manila Council. I was simply directed by the mayors to enforce this scheme," Tolentino said, adding that bus operators were properly consulted and were given enough time to adjust to the traffic program.

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NOVEMBER 14, 2010

Bus Company Reps meet with MMDA in Last-ditch Effort to Suspend UVVRP Implementation

Representatives from various bus companies met with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino today (November 14) in a last-ditch effort to suspend the implementation on city and provincial public utility buses of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), otherwise known as the number coding scheme.

The meeting was held at the MMDA building in Makati City.

The bus representatives, led by Ms. Claire de la Fuente aired their concerns on the program, saying this would affect the bus operators' ability to repay loans taken out to finance the acquisition of their buses.

Chairman Tolentino in turn cited widely-held opinion that errant and undisciplined bus drivers flagrantly violate traffic laws and that buses are observed to be less than half-filled, even during rush hour. He urged the operators to consider rationalizing the compensation of bus drivers, who earn their wages on a commission basis. This compensation scheme encourages bus drivers to drive recklessly and swiftly so as to maximize their earnings, in the process causing traffic gridlock in the metropolis.

In a separate interview, Sec. Tolentino noted that as early as 2003, the Metro Manila Council had issued a resolution observing that in a span of one week suspension of the number coding scheme on buses, heavy traffic flow occurred on major thoroughfares. Thus, while there had long been a recommendation from the Council to re-implement the number coding scheme dating as early as 2003, it was only at present that the same would finally be imposed on the buses.

The Metro Manila Council is the MMDA's governing body. It is composed mostly of the 17 mayors of the local government units comprising Metro Manila.

The MMDA chief requested that the operators refrain from instigating any untoward incidents and reiterated that the MMDA, Philippine National Police - Highway Patrol Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines and local government units were ready to handle foreseen contingencies.

Previously, the bus operators had indicated their intention to stage a strike on Monday, November 15 to protest their inclusion in the number coding scheme. Given the November 16 holiday, it is expected that the strike could spill over to Wednesday, November 17.

Sec. Tolentino warned that unscrupulous parties may use this opportunity to cause further damage. He advised the operators that contingency plans were in place to ensure that there would be order in the streets.

He also assured the operators that their concerns would be aired at the next Metro Manila Council meeting. Their inputs would also be included in the coming traffic management summit organized by the MMDA and scheduled to be held on December 3, 2010.

On a related matter, the MMDA chief met with NCRPO Chief, PNP representatives, and other MMDA officers to finalize contingency plans in case the bus operators push through with their planned strike.

"My role is to implement the Metro Manila Council resolution reimposing the number coding scheme on city and provincial public utility buses. We have made the necessary preparations to ensure there is order in the streets."

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NOVEMBER 12, 2010

MMDA Deploys 1,800 Traffic Enforcers to Ensure Full Implementation of UVVRP for PUBs

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will deploy around 1,800 traffic enforcers metro-wide on Monday to ensure the full implementation of the number coding scheme on public utility buses (PUBs).

Chairman Francis Tolentino today ordered the cancellation of day-offs of all agency traffic personnel to guarantee the effective enforcement of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) scheme on PUBs.

"It's all systems go on Monday. We will be issuing traffic violation tickets to offenders as we have informed the bus operators regarding the re-implementation of the scheme beforehand and they all agreed so there will be no excuse and nobody will be spared," Tolentino said.

According to Tolentino, informative signages have been installed along the major thoroughfares and the South and North Luzon Expressways (SLEX and NLEX) to advise the public that the number coding on PUBs will be in effect starting November 15.

Around 13,000 PUBs, provincial and city, are expected to be covered by the scheme. More than 1,000 of these vehicles will be affected by the UVVRP scheme daily.

Traffic enforcers will be dispatched strategically on SLEX and NLEX exits to apprehend provincial buses entering Metro Manila in violation of the number coding scheme.

The Philippine National Police will lend some of its buses to MMDA and will put them on standby together with its own five buses on strategic areas to accommodate and ferry passengers of violators to the various terminals.

Hundreds of personnel from the Roadways Clearing Operations Group and Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group will also be deployed to assist passengers from the provinces with baggage.

Foreseeing numerous violators, the agency will also use White Plains as temporary holding area for buses whose drivers or conductors who will resist apprehension from traffic enforcers.

Tolentino said he has received reports that several provincial bus firms have threatened to defy the MMDA in the enforcement of UVVRP.

"Should they try to resist we will detain their drivers and conductors and hold their buses until 7 in the evening," the MMDA chief warned.

Tolentino proposed the reimplementation of number coding to PUBs as part of the agency's efforts to decongest Edsa and other major thoroughfares.

The number coding for buses will be enforced from 7 am until 7 pm. But unlike with the private vehicles and other PUVs, there will be no window hours of 10 am-3pm for PUBs.

After a series of consultative meetings, bus companies and operators agreed to comply with the traffic scheme, which was then approved by the MMDA's governing body, the Metro Manila Council (MMC).

PUBs were originally covered by UVVRP but bus operators sought and secured an exemption from Malacañang on 2004.

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NOVEMBER 9, 2010

MMDA Opens Magallanes Interchange Southbound Lanes to All Vehicles

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has opened the southbound lane of the Magallanes Interchange to all kinds of vehicles early today.

The decision came about following an advice by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on the status and safety of the said thoroughfare in relation to the diggings conducted by the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC).

In a letter addressed to Chairman Francis Tolentino, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson recommended the opening of the southbound ramp of the interchange after compressive strength test results of the concrete core samples of the excavated portions under the wall foundation yielded positive results.

However, as a precautionary measure, heavy vehicles will only be allowed to pass through the inner (left) lane only pending full restoration of the excavated portions.

MMDA Officer-in-Charge Emerson Carlos said the agency has opened a satellite office right in front of the West Tower along Osmeña Highway to ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the area.

Carlos said "Task Force Kaayusan", composed initially of forty two traffic enforcers, is directed to supervise and man the area on 24-hour basis until the situation normalizes.

"In addition to the task force, at least forty volunteers will also help our traffic personnel in ensuring the smooth flow of vehicles on the area. We have also put up directional signs and advisories along the area all the way to Quirino Avenue to inform motorists," Carlos said.

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NOVEMBER 9, 2010

MMDA Renews Truck Ban Exemptions for Fuel Tankers

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has renewed for another week the truck ban exemptions of the fuel tankers of Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines, Inc. in connection with the ongoing excavation along the busted pipeline of the First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC).

MMDA Officer-in-Charge Emerson Carlos signed the Special Permit for the two major oil firms allowing its tankers to travel on major thoroughfares of Metro Manila from 10 am to 6 am.

The extended truck ban exemption will be from November 11 to 18.

The MMDA agreed to issue special exemptions to the fuel-carrying trucks of Shell and Chevron after the Lopez-owned FPIC shut down its 117-kilometer Batangas-Pandacan pipeline following a gas leak in Bangkal, Makati City.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said these fuel trucks should be allowed to travel freely so as not to disrupt Metro Manila's fuel supply.

The truck ban exemption shall cover only those tankers and lorries carrying petroleum products previously transported via the FPIC Batangas-Pandacan pipeline, Carlos reiterated.

This special permit is renewable for an additional seven-day period or until the busted FPIC pipeline is repaired, whichever comes sooner.

Meanwhile, the MMDA, in consultation with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), has allowed the resumption of the excavation works at the Bangkal area.

The MMDA had issued a cease and desist order on November 3 following a DPWH report that the retaining wall of the southbound portion of the Magallanes Interchange had been compromised.

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NOVEMBER 8, 2010

MMDA Rescue Team Arrives Tomorrow Following Successful Mercy Mission in Tuguegarao City

The 16-man rescue team of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will arrive tomorrow morning after a successful mercy mission in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.

Chairman Francis Tolentino ordered the deployment of the MMDA contingent on Saturday as a response to the request for assistance of Congressman Randolph Ting and the city government to help in the rescue and relief operations in the area.

"In addition to manpower, we also sent three rubber boats and outboard motors to Tuguegarao to help in the evacuation of thousands of residents from thirty nine barangays submerged in water due to continuous rainfall in the area," Tolentino said.

The team, comprised mostly of personnel from the agency's Rescue Unit and Public Safety Office, helped the local government units in transporting affected residents to several evacuation centers in the province.

At present, the team is placed on standby on critical points in Tuguegarao to respond to the reported possible damming of the Chico River.

"This just goes to show that the MMDA is always ready to help and extend its services to everyone in need, even beyond Metro Manila," Tolentino said.

In recent years, the MMDA has also sent agency personnel to Kalibo, Aklan and Alaminos, Pangasinan to assist local government units in rescue, relief, clearing, and cleanup operations after they were severely damaged by super typhoons.

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NOVEMBER 4, 2010

MMDA Teams Up with PNP-HPG to Strengthen Traffic Enforcement

Starting tomorrow, scores of policemen belonging to the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) will team up with traffic enforcers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to help man traffic and strictly enforce traffic rules initially along the entire stretch of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (Edsa).

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino yesterday said the days of erring motorists who continue to wantonly disregard traffic rules and regulations are now numbered following the joint agreement between the MMDA and the PNP-HPG to put more teeth on traffic enforcement along Edsa and other major road arteries in Metro Manila.

"Together with the PNP, we are buttressing our efforts to put a stop to the horrors of congested roads, traffic moving at a snail's pace or even stops to a standstill especially along Edsa. We will throw the book at undisciplined drivers who are so brazen in violating traffic laws," Tolentino said.

"We have decided to join hands with the PNP and other concerned agencies to find honest-to-goodness answers to the perennial traffic problem and breakdown of discipline drivers," he added.

The MMDA is now readying the deputation of some members of the PNP-HPG to form part of the strengthened composite teams of traffic enforcers that will man traffic along choke points which include portions of Pasay City, Baclaran in Parañaque, Taft Avenue in Manila, all along the north-bound and south-bound directions of Edsa.

Some PNP policewomen, together with their counterpart MMDA lady enforcers, have also been tapped to beef up the teams, according to Tolentino.

The MMDA chief, however, explained that the muscle of the law and the procedural and technical arms of the MMDA and other government agencies concerned can increase apprehension records. But procedures alone will not kill the problem, he quipped.

"Our collaborative efforts with the PNP is part of a long-term task that refers to the general picture, to educate our countrymen on obeying the law and instilling discipline on them," he said.

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NOVEMBER 2, 2010

MMDA Approves Issuance of Temporary Exemptions from Truck Ban to Fuel Tankers

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has approved the issuance of temporary exemptions from the truck ban to fuel tankers and lorries transporting petroleum products from Batangas to Pandacan, Manila.

During today's meeting with officials of Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines held at the MMDA office, Chairman Francis Tolentino agreed to allow fuel tankers and lorries duly authorized by the said oil companies to travel around Metro Manila from 10 a.m. until 6 a.m. on all major thoroughfares.

The decision was made following the request of the Department of Energy and Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines to cushion the impact of the shutting down of the 117-kilometer pipeline owned by the First Philippine Industrial Corp. (FPIC) due to gas leak.

The pipeline supplies around 60 percent of Metro Manila's fuel requirements from Batangas to the oil depots in Pandacan.

"Through this move, we are hoping to prevent any fuel shortage that may arise from the current situation," Tolentino said.

About 2.6 million liters of petroleum products are being supplied by Pilipinas Shell. Both Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines sought exemption for around 200 trucks combined.

The permit will be of no cost and will be valid for only seven days but can be renewed on a weekly basis until the completion of the pipeline repair.

Tolentino instructed the oil companies to place small banners on the front windshield of the fuel trucks for proper identification and to facilitate effective enforcement.

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OCTOBER 28, 2010

MMDA to Deploy 1,800 Traffic Enforcers Starting Tomorrow in Preparation for All Saints Day

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will deploy 1,800 traffic enforcers to all major thoroughfares and secondary roads in the metropolis starting tomorrow (October 29) to man traffic within the vicinity of public cemeteries and private memorial parks on All Saints Day.

Director Emerson Carlos of the Traffic and Transport Management Office (TTMO) said majority of the agency's enforcers will be manning the roads leading to major cemeteries and provincial bus terminals to ensure the safety of thousands of motorists, commuters and pedestrians alike trekking to the suburbs and provinces in observance of the yearly All Saints Day celebration.

Carlos has been designated as MMDA officer-in-charge in the absence of Chairman Francis Tolentino who is currently in Jakarta, Indonesia to attend the 1st ASEM Meeting for Governors and Mayors.

Majority of the enforcers will be deployed to the major cemeteries and memorial parks metro-wide such as North, South, and Chinese cemeteries in Manila; Manila and Loyola Memorial Parks in Parañaque; La Loma, Bagbag, Himlayan, Eternal, and Holy Cross in Quezon City.

"I have instructed our enforcers to strictly implement the laws so that there will be smooth flow of human and vehicular traffic", Carlos said.

MMDA mobile patrol and motorcycle units will also be deployed near provincial bus terminals in Cubao, Quezon City and Pasay City, all along Edsa, to watch closely over bus drivers who would violate the agency's "Nose-in Nose-out" policy which prohibits them from making unnecessary maneuvers of their buses near the ingress and exits of their terminals that tend to cause traffic gridlock along Edsa especially during All Saints Day.

Six ambulances and tow trucks will also be on standby to respond to road emergencies.

The MMDA enforcers will work hand in hand with the Philippine National Police, Traffic Enforcement Group, the local government units (LGUs), and other civic volunteer groups.

According to Danilo Gaoiran, MMDA Supervising Consultant for Traffic, the agency is tasked to manage and control traffic, while the LGUs will implement their respective traffic rerouting schemes.

The traffic management guidelines is part of "Oplan Undas 2010", an inter-agency contingency plan employed for the expedient mobility of vehicles and throngs of people expected to flock the cemeteries to pay respect to their departed loved-ones.

Carlos requests the public to cooperate with the traffic enforcers and other authorities in order to guarantee a peaceful and orderly celebration of All Saints Day.

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OCTOBER 27, 2010

MMDA to Lead Multi-Stakeholder Traffic Management Summit on November 17

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will lead a multi-stakeholder traffic management summit on November 17 to lay out the groundwork for the agency's vision of coming out with a seamless transport plan for Metro Manila.

To be facilitated by the University of Asia and the Pacific, the summit will be an occasion to pursue a decentralized strategy of stakeholder participation in the determination of traffic management policy gaps. This in turn will guide the formulation of an effective traffic management plan for Metro Manila.

The first to be conducted by the MMDA in recent years, participants to the summit are the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the Philippine Coast Guard, and the local traffic bureaus of the 17 local government units in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Major transport organizations are also enjoined to cooperate in various traffic-related matters to be discussed in the comprehensive seminar cum workshop.

"The Summit comes at a time when the MMDA is about to implement the number coding scheme for buses that ply EDSA, a measure that was approved by the Metro Manila Council," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief added that he looks forward to hearing the participating agencies' and the transport leaders' plans and suggestions to further improve traffic and public transportation in the metropolis.

The Coast Guard and the DOTC, Tolentino said, will be involved in the planned summit as the agency is exploring the use of the Pasig River ferry system as one of the means to ease vehicular traffic gridlock in major thoroughfares.

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OCTOBER 22, 2010

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino digs in amidst Budget Cuts

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today announced several fiscal policies the agency will implement to ensure that the MMDA will remain productive and relevant in spite of the expected budget cuts next year.

During a meeting with MMDA officials, Tolentino ordered the finance department to submit cash inventory report daily so he could personally monitor the expense and revenue stream of the agency.

"These are necessary measures that we have to do in the face of this budget cut. We are assuring the public that we will continue to sustain our services and programs," Tolentino said.

Congress has cut the MMDA's operational budget for 2011 from the previous P2.076 billion to just P981 million.

Tolentino also required agency officials to submit regular personnel schedule, which indicates, among others, employee assignments in certain pending projects and its expected completion.

This is to allow the agency to closely monitor its current manpower resources, according to Tolentino.

The MMDA chief also tasked the concerned offices of the agency to submit their respective functional report where their current plans, projects, and programs are detailed.

"Through this report, we will be able to see how many people are assigned to a particular job, the duration of their assignments, project timelines and starting and ending dates for such plans, programs, and activities," Tolentino explained.

Tolentino said he is confident that in spite of the reduction of the MMDA's budget, the agency will continue to function more effectively.

"We will even do better because we will closely evaluate and monitor our plans and projects to ensure that only those with higher value will be implemented," he added.

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OCTOBER 21, 2010

MMDA to Feature Independent Films as a Prelude to MMFF

As a prelude to the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will show at least five independent films from December 16 to 21 at selected theaters.

In coordination with the Independent Filmmakers Cooperative (IFC) headed by Raymond Lee, the MMDA has formed a special committee to screen the films to be shown and to supervise the actual pre-MMFF exhibition.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the event is aimed to promote quality independent films and to encourage small filmmakers.

"This is our way of helping independent filmmakers. It is a viable avenue for them to showcase their movies and to increase public awareness on these kinds of movies which are normally not shown commercially, but are internationally acclaimed in foreign film festivals," Tolentino said.

The films will be shown in digital theaters with high definition once a day, between 7pm to 8pm, a week before the actual MMFF which is scheduled to open on Christmas Day. Pre-selling of tickets will be done to maximize viewership.

One segment of the Awards Night Program slated on December 26 shall be devoted to the independent filmmakers to highlight their participation in the MMFF.

One entry will be given the award for Achievement in Technical Excellence and shall receive a sponsorship from Fuji Film to convert the film into 35 millimeter picture for showing in regular commercial run after January 7, 2011. Special citations will be given to all participating films.

The MMDA, on its part, will help in the advertisement and promotion of the independent films by installing tarpaulins in the agency's Pahayagan ng Bayan along the major thoroughfares.

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OCTOBER 20, 2010

MMDA Revokes Accreditation of 7 Private Towing Companies

For violating guidelines on towing operations, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) last week revoked the accreditation of seven private towing companies that have been previously authorized to operate on Edsa and other major thoroughfares.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino also cancelled the accreditation of 13 other MMDA-accredited towing firms and issued them one-month temporary permits while their operations are being evaluated by the agency.

"As of now, all previous accreditations are hereby cancelled. You will be given temporary accreditation, which is good for one month, pending a review of your records and performances," Tolentino told towing operators during a meeting at the MMDA office in Makati City this morning.

Of the 20 towing services licensed by the MMDA, seven, however, were denied temporary accreditations this morning following concerns raised by various bus operators, who also attended the meeting, on the abusive practices of the towing companies.

Those were NJP Towing Services based in Pasig City; JGFC Towing Services in Project 6, Quezon City; Lard Towing Services, Edsa-Cubao, Quezon City; JEARLM Towing Servies, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City; Road Eye Towing Services in Novaliches, Quezon City; CD3 Monde Towing Services, San Juan, Taytay; and Mac & Paul Towing Services in Sta.Mesa, Manila.

Unlike the 13 other towing firms, these seven towing firms will no longer be allowed to operate on Edsa and other major roads effective today, according to Tolentino.

Only seven towing companies, however, were actually issued temporary accreditations this morning because the rest were not represented in the meeting.

Under MMDA Ordinance No. 78-03, only towing companies accredited by the MMDA are allowed to operate along major thoroughfares. There have been 20 private towing companies licensed by the MMDA as of this year.

Tolentino advised the owners of the seven towing firms who were denied the one-month temporary accreditation to show good basis for their re-accreditation.

The MMDA Chairman summoned the 20 towing firms and the various bus companies to put a stop to the illegal practices of these towing services, such as exorbitant fees being charged to towed or impounded buses and private vehicles.

Bus operators complained they are being made to pay P4,500 in towing fees wherein the legal rate is only P1,200.

The seven towing companies were also found to be using satellite impounding areas not authorized by MMDA. Tolentino said towed and/or impounded vehicles shall only be deposited at Ultra I and II in Pasig City.

Tolentino explained the cancellation of all previous accreditations is part of the MMDA's effort to streamline the operation of towing services in Metro Manila.

"We have been hearing many complaints against these abusive towing companies so this is now the time to check on how they do their business," the MMDA chief said.

He assured the agency will now be very strict in issuing new accreditation to towing companies.

(From the Alabang Village Voice Newspaper, p.8, October 17-23, 2010)

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OCTOBER 19, 2010

MMDA Helps Out in Metro's Flood-Prone Areas

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported no major flooding or other untoward incidents took place in Metro Manila during the first 24 hours since Typhoon Juan (or "Megi") hit Northern Luzon.

Floodwaters rose briefly in Dagat-Dagatan, Caloocan City. The MMDA sent members of its Flood Control Unit and deployed three specially-constructed wooden flood boats that ferried schoolchildren along the flooded areas.

In Lower Bicutan, Taguig waters rose waist-deep. The Agency deployed vacuum trucks to immediately address the solution. MMDA buses were also deployed to ferry stranded commuters, including students whose classes were suspended, for free under its "Libreng Sakay" ("Free Ride") operations.

MMDA personnel and equipment remain ready for immediate deployment by Task Force Unos, to address any eventuality. "Personnel from our Road Emergency, Communications, Flood Control and Traffic Groups are working on round-the-clock shifts, and may be deployed at any time," said MMDA Task Force Unos Head Ramon Santiago, who added that the MMDA has dump trucks, rubber and wooden boats, and other heavy and light equipment ready for dispatch.

More rainfall is expected tonight (October 19), but the situation is being closely monitored through PAG-ASA as the MMDA remains on yellow alert, meaning its key unit heads are on stand-by to check on personnel and operational status of equipment. "If the weather condition worsens, we will escalate to blue alert, wherein additional MMDA personnel consisting of 30% of Task Force Unos will be deployed on a 24/7 basis. This is on top of the basic MMDA complement working round-the-clock," explained Santiago.

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OCTOBER 19, 2010

MMDA Convenes Task Force Unos and MMDRRMC in preparation for Typhoon Juan

As it went on yellow alert last Friday in preparation for the expected onslaught of super typhoon "Juan", Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) convened its Task Force "Unos" over the weekend.

Task Force Unos was conceived as a response to MMDA's mandate provided for in Republic Act 7924 to be the core of disaster management in NCR and to formulate necessary disaster preparedness mechanisms.

Further, it defines the participation of pertinent MMDA units during dangerous situations brought about by bad weather, heavy rains, and flooding, especially those that pose threats to life and property.

A joint meeting among the task force and the agencies comprising the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC) was held at the MMDA office last Sunday to discuss preparations and harmonize response procedures among government agencies.

Agencies included in the MMDRRMC are the Philippine National Police-National Capital Region Police Office, Office of Civil Defense, Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines-National Capital Region Command.

During the meeting, the agencies agreed to combine all their watercraft resources along with that of the local government units in Metro Manila to be used for rescue and evacuation operations.

MMDA has seven rubber boats with five outboard motors and fifteen wooden flood boats ready for immediate deployment should the need arise, or before the situation worsens.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said around 450 MMDA personnel were on standby in their respective offices as early as Friday to perform clearing operations of road obstructions wrought by the typhoon within Metro Manila.

The MMDRRMC advised the public to prepare for the typhoon and remain vigilant until the typhoon leaves the Philippine area of responsibility and monitor the situation through news advisories.

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OCTOBER 15, 2010

MMC Shelves Odd-Even Scheme, Approves UVVRP for Buses

The Metro Manila Council decided to shelve the proposal to re-implement the Odd-Even Scheme along E. Delos Santos Avenue, Metro Manila during today's special council meeting held at Quezon City Hall.

Instead of the odd-even scheme, the MMC agreed to implement the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the number coding scheme on public utility buses (PUBs) starting mid-November initially on an experimental basis.

The MMC also decided to create a Special Committee on Traffic to be headed by Mayor Herbert Bautista of Quezon City and co-chaired by Mayor Del de Guzman of Marikina City.

The Committee is tasked to craft guidelines on the UVVRP on buses, in close coordination with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board headed by Atty. Nelson Laluces.

"We heed the people's voice as part of the consultative process," said MMDA Chairman Tolentino. "We also pledge to utilize all our available resources to find creative ways to solve our traffic woes."

He added: "We will continue to enhance traffic enforcement, and we ask for the public's cooperation in the days ahead by observing road discipline and courtesy."

Chairman Tolentino commended the people of Metro Manila for their interest, vigilance and civic-mindedness in the policy-making decision process. "May your participation continue not only in solving our traffic problems, but also upholding sustainable development efforts to address environmental concerns such as garbage and estero clean up, cleanliness and orderliness, and disaster preparedness," he urged.

"We at the MMDA and the Metro Manila Council will continue to be vigilant as well, in upholding the people's welfare."

The odd-even proposal is just part of a package of proposals made after evaluating a study by the University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies which found that even under the current number coding scheme, EDSA private lanes had breached their maximum carrying capacity.

Another study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency yielded findings that EDSA could physically accommodate up to 1,600 buses; however, 3,800 city franchised buses currently ply EDSA.

The Council deemed it best to explore other innovative measures aimed at reducing the traffic problem such as including the public buses in the current UVVRP or number coding scheme.

It resolved to step up traffic enforcement measures and drivers' education, and crafting an Urban Transport Code of Corporate Social Responsibility, taking into consideration the general welfare of the people.

"The Metro Manila Council always upholds the welfare of our citizens and other stakeholders by formulating people-centered urban development plans for the betterment of Metro Manila," Tolentino added.

Present during the meeting were Mayors Herbert Bautista of Quezon City, Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Enrico Echeverri of Caloocan, John Rey Tiangco of Navotas, Del De Guzman of Marikina, Benhur Abalaos of Mandaluyong, Alfredo Lim of Manila, and Jaime Medina of the Municipality of Pateros. Caloocan Vice Mayor and concurrent president of the Vice Mayor's League of the Philippines Edgardo Erice and Councilor's League of the Philippines President Serafin Bernardo also attended the meeting.

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OCTOBER 13, 2010

Major Transport Operators Group Praises MMDA's Efforts To Improve Transactions With The Public

A major transport operators group today praised the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for coming up with measures to alleviate the plight of drivers and private motorists who transact with the agency.

The Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators (ACTO) particularly cited the new airconditioned lounge the MMDA has opened for motorists waiting for the processing of their papers at the MMDA's redemption center in Makati City.

"We appreciate the gesture of Chairman Francis Tolentino. This only shows his concern not only to us in the transport sector but also to the public in general," ACTO President Efren De Luna said.

The MMDA has opened its new redemption lounge to accommodate motorists transacting with the agency. Two television sets have also been installed inside while free coffee is offered regularly for drivers awaiting their papers.

The refurbished redemption center will now be also open on Saturdays, from 8 am to 5 pm.

De Luna, whose group has requested the MMDA to put up a "one-stop-shop" redemption center, expressed his gratitude to the agency for acting on their requests. ACTO has recently engaged Tolentino and other MMDA officials in a dialogue.

"If transacting with the MMDA is now easy, there will be no more graft and corruption. Drivers will no longer have to bribe traffic enforcers to get away with their traffic violations," De Luna said.

In keeping up with the President Aquino's pro-poor stance the MMDA has adopted programs that particularly benefit the underprivileged sector.

One of which is the "Lingap sa Barangay," a community outreach program aimed at helping the barangays clean up their environment and protect the public from diseases.

With the onslaught of typhoon "Ondoy" in mind, the MMDA has also revived its anti-littering campaign to prevent the recurrence of floods during the rainy season.

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OCTOBER 6, 2010

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino To Lead A Team Of 700 In Tomorrow's Manila Bay Coastal Cleanup

In continuing compliance with the Supreme Court's order directing the cleanup of the Manila Bay, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino will lead tomorrow around 700 workers and volunteers in cleaning up the bay's coastline along Roxas Boulevard.

The major cleanup activity, which will cover the stretch of the Manila Bay's shoreline from the US Embassy to Manila Yacht Club, will start at 7:30 am tomorrow, more than three weeks after the celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 25.

"We will launch this cleanup operation to further stir awareness among Metro Manila residents about the importance of our historic Manila Bay. Caring for the environment, especially our waterways, is not the sole responsibility of the government, we should all do our part," Tolentino said.

He pointed out that the Manila Bay coastal cleanup will be conducted to highlight efforts to control flooding and to remind the public that the trash they throw indiscriminately ends up in our waterways.

The MMDA chairman will personally lead the MMDA contingent in picking up trash along the bay's shores. The agency will also bring in heavy equipment such as trucks and dredging machineries.

The agency's workforce in the cleanup will also be composed of more 400 MMDA volunteers who underwent rigid flood incident response training. Tolentino said this will put to test the knowledge and skills they acquired from the month-long training.

A simple graduation ceremony will also be held tomorrow for the volunteers who successfully passed the training. They will be given certificates for completing the program.

The volunteers were trained on disaster response, water safety training and lifeboat handling, all of which are focused on their primary mission - to save lives during disasters such as flooding, Tolentino added.

In December 2008, the Supreme Court ordered the MMDA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other agencies to clean up Manila Bay in accordance with their mandate under existing laws.

In the unanimous decision of the court en banc, the tribunal came up with specific orders to the MMDA, DENR and the other agencies for a coordinated cleanup, restoration and preservation of the "sea resource, playground and...historical landmark."

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OCTOBER 4, 2010

MMDA To Establish "Flood Control Bayanihan Zones"

Seeking the involvement of the community in its flood control programs, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will soon establish "Flood Control Bayanihan Zones" in flood-prone areas in the metropolis.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Flood Control Bayanihan Zone is being initiated by the agency as a concrete public-private partnership to alleviate the adverse effects of flooding in Metro Manila, particularly during the rainy season.

"Within the next few weeks, we will launch these bayanihan zones that will serve as our active partner in all our flood control activities. With the close cooperation of the community, we believe that our efforts to find solutions to our flooding problem will come a long way," Tolentino said.

Each Bayanihan Zone will be composed of key representatives from the different stakeholders in the community such as civic and business organizations, religious groups, non-government organizations and people's organizations, among others.

Tolentino pointed out that the development of the Bayanihan Zones is aimed at establishing a broad-based commitment and involvement by the community in a particular flood-prone area.

With bayanihan zones in place, the problem on coordination and response time during calamities and any other emergencies will be effectively addressed, Tolentino added.

Each bayanihan zone will be responsible for organizing their community for preparedness prior to and during flooding incidents, and will maintain close contact with the MMDA, the local government units, and other government agencies.

Serving as the MMDA's frontline unit, members of the bayanihan zone are also expected to develop flood protocol and other guidelines for the residents of the community such as alert mechanisms, flood-mitigation measures, and evacuation measures.

"Each bayanihan zone will also be responsible in conducting information campaign and advocacy outreach program to eradicate causes of flooding in their jurisdiction," Tolentino said.

The Flood Control Bayanihan Zone is the latest among the measures introduced by the MMDA to alleviate flooding in the metropolis, the most significant of which is the "Estero Declaration," which the agency signed with Metro Manila mayors.

The declaration affirmed the commitment of the mayors to work hand-in-hand with the MMDA on the issue of flooding.

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2010

Press Briefing with Secretary Edwin Lacierda and MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino

Transcription of the Press Briefing with Secretary Edwin Lacierda and MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, September 27, 2010

LACIERDA: Good morning. Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat. Sa mga nakapula, isang magandang pulang araw, red-letter day for us. Anyway, I'd just like to let you know that the President will be arriving on Tuesday, 3 AM. And upon arriving, he will issue an arrival statement so we'd like to welcome you, to join us at 3 AM in the airport.

Anyway, this is a good day for us. As we know, it's the first anniversary of the Ondoy calamity. We've asked the Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority, Chairman Francis Tolentino, to give us an update on what the MMDA has been doing and will be doing, and to relay to the public their plans. So, may I ask Chairman Francis Tolentino to brief the Malacañang Press Corps.

TOLENTINO: Good morning. First of all, I'd like to show you the slide, the presentation which we showed early this morning when we had a mass at the MMDA Headquarters, officiated by His Eminence Cardinal Rosales.


TOLENTINO: Okay, so I apologize for that. It shows the level of our preparedness. So, let me just rattle off some facts which we have done to address post-Ondoy scenario. Two weeks ago, we asked all the Metro Manila mayors to sign a Metropolitan Manila Mayors Estero Declaration. I have a copy of this. And all the Metropolitan Manila mayors recognized the need to actively implement anti-littering ordinances, as well as, to clean and dredge their estero, creaks and waterways located within their jurisdictions, as well as to utilize all available resources in a humane manner recognizing the right of every individual to have a decent place of dwelling as well as a standard of living.

And you will also notice that the MMDA has been very active in pursuing an anti-littering campaign. And we also go to mga barangay three times a week, starting Friday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we've been to mga barangay hard-hit by Typhoon Ondoy. We've just been to Barangay Nagpayong in Pasig City the other day, the last barangay where waters subsided 30 October 2009. And as a long term mission, MMDA, we realized that our existing flood control plan is circa 1952, so we're trying to craft an integrated Metro Manila flood control plan, possibly have a draft by the second week of November this year. So, we've been missing that for the last five decades. Wala pa naman pong Metro Manila noon eh, 1952.

Q: (off mic)

TOLENTINO: November.

Q: (off mic)


Q: (off mic)

TOLENTINO: Oo, before I went to this place, I signed two agreements with the private sector - I won't mention the names of the corporations - wherein, these corporations answered my appeal to provide help and assistance to the MMDA for free - their dredging equipment, fuel, human resources among others. They will start with the Tullahan River in Malabon, as well as in other areas of Metro Manila. This is for free. This exemplifies the public-private partnership being advocated by our President.

Yesterday, I attended a celebration of Provident Village Typhoon Ondoy Commemorative Mass, and I witnessed the signing of an agreement called The Alliance of Six. Ito po'y labas na ng Metro Manila, we're talking of the municipalities of Cainta, Taytay, Angono, Montalban, Tanay among others. So, the LGUs pledged to protect the watershed before waters would reach the Marikina River. So, these are some of the initiatives being done by MMDA right now. And I hope we can fix that CD, but I'm willing to answer your questions.

Q: Sir, what's the difference of the flood control plan that you're trying to come out with? And in general, what is the concept of the new flood control plan, and how much would be needed to implement this?

TOLENTINO: I have no exact figures on how much would be needed. But basically, the gist of the flood control plan that we are trying to craft is this: the fluvial process should not conflict with land use, meaning to say, the natural flow of water along the flood plains should not conflict, should not be hampered by existing or future land use development plans that would include construction of buildings and other vertical structures. So, that's also the reason why MMDA is planning to have, by next year, a Manila Blueprint 2030. And this would include the flood control plan, the transport management plan, urban blight designs, urban renewal among other things. So, this would be part of the Manila Blueprint 2030. I hope I have answered your question.

Q: Sir, iyong Manila Blueprint 2030, doon nakalagay iyong magiging plano, ibig sabihin, sir, ganoon pa katagal bago talaga maisakatuparan iyong pagsasaayos ng mga waterways, mga rivers?

TOLENTINO: No, I mentioned awhile ago 14 Novembe, but Manila Blueprint 2030 is the more comprehensive one. We're not speaking of a mega-Manila program which would probably expand to the east up to the boundaries of Cainta, Taytay; to the north, to include portions of Bulacan; and to the south, several portions of Cavite, and most probably to reach even Tagaytay.

Q: Sir, isa pa po. Iyong corporations po na pumayag na magpahiram ng-ano pong corporations ito?

TOLENTINO: One corporation is San Miguel Corporation. No fees would be made, everything for free. And the other one is a small construction firm, basically a show of goodwill and help to support the government, for free also including fuel.

Q: Good morning, sir. Noong nagpunta po dito ang PAGASA, sabi nila handa na raw tayo sa panibagong Ondoy . So, sa inyo po, ano po ang tingin ninyo po kasi marami pa tayong dapat gawin? So, just in case mangyari uli iyong pagbuhos ng malakas na ulan, handa na po ba tayo, sir?

TOLENTINO: Psychologically, mentally we are prepared. I think our people showed resilience during the past months, Marikina recovered, Pasig City recovered. Handa po tayo mentally, physically, psychologically. But I have to admit, infrastructure-wise, some of our drainage systems, lateral systems are still clogged. We may not be ready for that. I have to admit that, and you know this for a fact, that some of our estero are still clogged, not just with litters but informal settlers. And informal settlers po natin sa mga estero, sa waterways natin ay around 70,000 now. Multiply that by five, so may 350,000 persons tayo living along the estero. Have I answered your question?

Q: So, ngayon, sir, ano po ang ginagawa po natin? We have to remove those.

TOLENTINO: It's part of the plan. It's part of the plan. Relocate them but in a humane manner. Look for a good relocation site, get their consent, provide livelihood for them and make them realize that staying in these watercourse areas would not be safe for them.

Q: Sir, good morning. Pero how soon na mapapaalis na rin sila? Or mayroon ba tayong sapat na political will to do this, iyong mga illegal settlers?

TOLENTINO: It has to be an inter-agency approach. I think there are appropriate housing agencies that would be doing this in coordination with the various local government units and NGOs, the private sector. So, it has to be a community approach. Hindi lang po siguro isang ahensiya ang gagawa nito.

Q: But, sir, even tomorrow mangyari ulit iyong Ondoy, dapat mayroon tayong target date kung kailan maaaring ma-clear iyong area kasi iyong buhay nila ang nakataya doon?

TOLENTINO: I think we have two estero that would be the prototype of this: an estero in Paco and an estero near the Mendiola area. But this is being spearheaded by the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. So, hindi po siguro mabibigla.

Q: ... You said that the people living along the waterways should be made to realize that it's dangerous for them to stay there. But haven't they realized this the last time when Ondoy swept away their homes and properties? And how difficult is s for you?

TOLENTINO: I have answered a while ago that it has to be an inter-agency approach. People living near the estero banks are not there for convenience - perhaps out of necessity. Poverty would probably be a root cause, so relocating them would have to be interfaced with other government projects. And as I have said, this has to be an inter-agency approach. You have housing agencies: National Housing Authority, Commission on Urban Poor. Mayroon naman pong guidelines tungkol dito. And I would also like to reiterate that the Metro Manila Commission, even before, passed an ordinance that there should be a three-meter easement for estero, ten-meter easement for those residing along the Pasig river.

Q: Sir, can you give us an estimate of how many people are in these flood plains, and how will we ensure that there will be no further construction in these areas in the future?

TOLENTINO: You must distinguish between a flood plain and an estero. A flood plain is basically a basin which is, which, right now, as I speak has been developed into subdivisions but should be flood plains, no human settlements. But you've been aware probably of studies that even Provident Village in Marikina is supposed to be a flood plane. Other areas near the Marikina river should not be suitable for human settlement, but this has already happened. So what we are espousing right now is for the adoption of the 3As. Jot this down. Number 1 A is to Avert. Avert would probably mean construction of more pumping stations in so far as the MMDA is concerned; the building of dikes, which, you should have seen kung hindi lang nasira iyong ating video. The second A is Avoid. Avoid living in areas which are considered dangerous and stay out of harm's way. Huwag na tumira doon sa lugar na alam natin na babahaan. And number 3 - these are what some of our kababayan are doing - the last A is Adopt. Sa Provident Village, dati iyong two-storey house naging three- story house na. Mayroon pang panic room na nabasa ninyo. Magaling ang Pilipino to adapt. So the 3As are actually being used right now: Avert, Avoid and Adapt. In so far as the agency is concerned, ours is Avert.

Q: Sir, you mentioned kasi in your blueprint na iyong land that is in the way of the natural flow of water, bawal na sir ang magconstruct ng mga bagong structures doon. Sir, how big is this area that we're talking about? Gaano kadami na ang mga nakatayong structures doon? Paano ninyo i-enforce na wala nang magtatayo doon in the future? Will there be a law or an ordinance?

TOLENTINO: The Metro Manila Blue Print 2030 would be converted into 17 city ordinances if adopted by the 17 LGUs. And the 17 LGUs, including the areas proposed to be covered by the Mega Manila Area, would have to adopt the blueprint. And that would entail the enactment of ordinances preventing the construction of structures near those danger zone.

Q: Sir, presently ba may mga subdivisions or mga commercial structures na...

TOLENTINO: I just mentioned Provident Village. That's in a flood plane; Circulo Verde in a flood plane.

Q: So they will be relocated, sir, and gaano kadami iyong tao?

TOLENTINO: But they have been there. No mention of relocation, but what I said is that studies show that they should not have been there in the first place. So how should government respond? Avert. Build more bypasses to avert the fluvial process and to prevent inundation of those areas.

Q: We won't touch them anymore?

TOLENTINO: Nandoon na po iyon. They have property...

Q: Pero iyong further construction ang bawal?


Q: Good afternoon, sir. You mentioned na kulang pa rin tayo ng infrastructure, hanggang November 13 pa po iyong draft. So in October pag may malakas po na ulan, what scenario should we expect, and what kind of response can we expect from the government?

TOLENTINO: That's a good question. I think you have a revitalized NDCC, very active po iyon. They have been proactive, kumpleto ang training. And then the LGUs themselves, they have prepared for these. I witnessed yesterday the preparedness, readiness of the City of Marikina. They are prepared for these. Pasig city is prepared for these. So in terms of readiness, we have all those plans in place. In so far as MMDA is concerned, we have OPLAN Unos. I have activated a 500-man volunteer group, concerned citizens. Naging 700 pa nga, lumobo na. So we have plans in place. But these are plans when disaster occurs. What we need right now is a continuing community plan.

That's why I have here with me - ipapakita sana sa slide - we have a new concept called "Flood Control Bayanihan Zones", wherein we have identified all the flood-prone areas of Metro Manila: n Mandaluyong, in Sta. Mesa, in Talayan Village, along Gen. Araneta Avenue, etc. etc. And inside this map, you will find the most flood prone area. What I envision is for a flood control bayanihan zone manned by the local members of the community, manned by the Rotary Club, by the Red Cross, not just an MMDA as an agency. So ang tatao po rito ay mga private citizens. Iyong draft po namin ng flood preparedness guidelines would include even the names of the elementary schools, the telephone numbers of the principals, the Mercury Drug outlets, the open spaces, the church, etc, etc. Ito po iyong plano naming ilabas and distribute to the 9 identified flood-prone areas. Identified na po natin iyan, hindi na mababago iyan: España, Talayan Village, Aurora Boulevard, Kalentong, nandito po lahat iyon. Iyong readiness po natin doon ay we have to engage the members for the community.

Are we ready for this? Sayang, nandito po lahat sana. I think we're ready. This is just a 15-minute presentation.

Q: So iyong readiness natin is only in terms of responding to floods. Pero babaha pa rin kung babaha. Ganoon ba iyon?

TOLENTINO: We cannot avoid floods. We'll accept that as a reality just as we cannot avoid traffic. But we can reduce floods and the consequences.

MODERATOR: The MMDA's flood reduction measures.

[Audio Visual Presentation]

Q: Percentage wise, iyong total na drainage na nalinis ng MMDA sa buong Metro Manila, ilang percent? Would it be 50, 60?


Q: Thirty percent lang?

TOLENTINO: Thirty because you have to consider budgetary constraints, manpower requirements. That's why at the outset, we mentioned that we sought the help of private contractors. Ito iyong mga tumulong ng libre. This is still ongoing. So 30%, can you just imagine? And then last Friday - this is also important to mention - I sat down with Secretary Singson of DPWH. Hinati na namin iyong mga doables immediately, like, for example, it was mentioned here iyong problema sa Talayan Village, Gen. Araneta Ave., sinagot na ng DPWH iyon, double barrel culvert going out to Victory St. So may mga delineation kami. May mga equipment sila, may mga tao sila, may resources sila, so I think you will see some developments here. Nagtulong iyong MMDA and DPWH.

Q: So ilang percent ang hatian between DPWH and MMDA?

TOLENTINO: In-identify namin iyong mabilis na kaya nila. In fact, gusto ni Secretary Singson ngayon, pati iyong mga district engineers, to sit down with MMDA and really focus on the immediate doables. Percentage wise, hindi ko ma-mention siguro iyong exact percentage.

Q: Estimates?

TOLENTINO: Naghatian kami ng problema, so siguro 50-50. But the others mentioned are long term.

Q: Sa 30% na drainage, iyong 70% ibibigay ninyo na lang sa LGUs concerned?

TOLENTINO: Dapat LGUs iyong iba. Dapat sila. Kagaya ng mga pinasok namin na - the area where we entered while doing the Lingap sa baranagay, ito iyong LGU matters na. Tumulong na lang kami. I'm speaking of Malibay in Pasay; I'm speaking of Vitas in Tondo. Ito na ang kailangan ng cooperation ng mamamayan, so we're doing something. We're raising the awareness of the citizenry. We're engaging the private sector. We're teaming up with other government agencies: DPWH. We're teaming up with academic institutions in having a logic study. We're teaming up even with the religious sector.

Q: Kailan nag-iumpisa iyong clearing sa mga estero.

TOLENTINO: It's ongoing. When you say clearing, you're speaking of the materials along the waterways. You have to distinguish this between clearing that would, probably implicate informal settlers. Iyong garbage lamang. It's ongoing. Even our pumping station is doing that. We have conveyor belts running, and then naka-catch namin iyong mga garbage, but we really need to address the major problem of siltation. So iyon po iyong sediments. According to studies - and I have seen this personally - ay matigas na po iyong sa baba. So this is also a major cause of an obstruction to the free flow of the waters.

Q: Sir, after ng Ondoy, nagsimula na po ba agad iyong clearing ng mga estero?

TOLENTINO: From what I've read. Wala pa ho ako noon. In fact, during Ondoy, I was not here; I was studying in New Orleans. I only learned of Ondoy through the media. My experience in New Orleans is about Hurricane Katrina. I heard that, alam ninyo siguro ito, they formed a commission for rehabilitation, di ba ho, former president, I think, headed by Mr. Manny Pangilinan? Then after it was formed into a foundation. And I think that foundation itself is crafting an integrated flood control plan. So, we hope to team up with the Philippine Disaster Relief Foundation, Inc.

Q: Sir, under your watch, kailan po nagsimula iyong paglilinis po sa mga estero?

TOLENTINO: A week after I assumed office.

Q: Sir, would you know the reason kung bakit hindi na- update po iyong flood control plan ng Metro Manila?

TOLENTINO: Circa 1952 during the time of President Magsaysay, wala pa po tayong Metro Manila. You talked of Makati, Makati Rizal. Pasig, Pasig Rizal; Caloocan, Caloocan, Rizal; Taguig, Taguig Rizal. So, ang Metro Manila noon, wala pa ho eh. It was transformed during the early 70s. Ang tawag po noon, Greater Manila Area. Eventually nagkaroon po ng Metro Manila Authority under the Manila Commission. Doon lang po nag-blossom, iyong MMDA, as an aggrupation. So hindi sa kulang po iyong pananaw, kundi iyon po iyong realidad noon, three million lang yata ang tao noon. Right now, we have 12 million.

Q: Sir, iyong pag-update po ng flood control plan, responsibilidad po ng anong agency?


Q: MMDA. So, it wasn't done in the previous administrations of MMDA?

TOLENTINO: I think they tried. They tried. They tried to engage the services of JICA. You must remember also that flood control was transferred to the MMDA just 2002. Dati po ito, DPWH. So, kami po ay barely eight years old pa lamang dito sa flood control.

Q: Sir, may we know po kung magkano iyong proposed budget for the MMDA for next year? And is it enough to cover all your plans to build additional infrastructure?

TOLENTINO: Good question. Ah, proposed budget is ah...General Appropriations Act, I think, 980 million.

Q: Sir, parang...is that enough, sir?, Parang medyo maliit siya?

TOLENTINO: You can answer that yourself. Parang kulang. Kulang. Ang budget ng MMDA right now, 2010. Coming from General Appropriations Act is 1.7. So bumaba kami. But I think this would be supplemented by funds coming from other sources. And we hope that Congress would be generous enough to realize, especially the Metro Manila congressmen, that there is really a need for us to implement the measures that we have stated awhile ago. But you have to realize that most of the flood control projects are being funded by DPWH. 'Pag tapos na po iyon, DPWH turns it over to us for the maintenance, including the human resources and equipment involved. So, iyon po iyong realidad doon. But we work in tandem smoothly with DPWH; problem with that.

Q: Nabanggit ninyo po kanina na inter-agency approach iyong gagawin sa pag-relocate ng mga informal settlers. Pero ano po iyong timeline na susundin po ninyo, kung may target date po ba kayo kung saan makukumpleto na iyong pagre-relocate sa mga informal settlers?

TOLENTINO: I think, I am not in a position to answer that. I am not the right person to answer that. And, probably, the NHA another government agency...

Q: Sir, iyong tungkol po sa estero. Marami na pong plano ang sari-saring mga ahensiya pati iyong Palafox Study na tinutukoy na identified na isa ito sa pangunahing dahilan ng pagbabaha dahil hindi nakakalabas sa Metro Manila ang tubig na galing sa ulan at kung saan-saan pa. Itong estero na sinasabi dito, mayroon po bang serious relocation and implementation? Relocation, meaning, pag-aaalis ng mga informal settlers doon...as serious as the government is doing now in taking out or relocating informal settlers from prime lands.

TOLENTINO: I think the first step was done two weeks ago, when the Metro Manila Mayor signed this Estero Declaration. Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon po, na-mention dito iyong mga kailangan na ayusin. Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, they recognized the importance of clearing the waterways. They recognized also the right of the informal settlers to have a decent dwelling and standard of living. But at the same time, they acknowledged the urgent need to implement medium term and long term plans to mitigate and eradicate life threatening of environmental degradation. And that includes settling in the estero banks. So, first step, tinanggap nila ito, inako nila iyong responsibilidad. And then probably, when we go to the integrated land use plan, that's the time they will fund the efforts to relocate the estero dwellers. Napakatagal na hong problema ito.

Q: Sige, sir. Pangalawa po, iyong equipment functionality users. Sinasabi na itong mga equipment ng MMDA mga sari-saring lugar na po, including in Pampanga na ginagamit sa Pinatubo areas. Ilan pong porsiyento ang kagamitan po natin na binanggit po ninyo sa inyong presentation in functionality po sila,...

TOLENTINO: Iyong pumping station natin siguro nag-88 percent tayo. Mayroon doon na under repair or 90 percent. Iyong mga dredging equipment natin well-maintained naman po. I have heard of that Pampanga na may pinahiram yata doon. But natutugunan naman ho. Nangangailangan pa nga ho ng mga pumping stations. I rely on the integrity of our own MMDA district engineers. I think they are doing their job well. Iyong ating Air Force Warning Stations, although, mayroong hindi umaandar ay nagagamit naman po iyong karamihan.

Q: Sir, may kaalinsabay po ba tayong plano together with the Pasig Rehabilitation Program at kasama po ba ito sa anim na taong termino na panunungkulan ng administration?

TOLENTINO: We are part of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. In fact, ako raw iyong Vice Chair. So, I worked hand in hand with Ms. Gina Lopez. We have identified some areas. We have had river cruise. Nag-cruise na ho kami sa Paco, dito sa estero papunta sa Centro Escolar University. So, I know the problem and I think Ms. Gina is also doing a good job.

Q: What is the problem, sir, at kaya pa ba itong tugunan sa anim na taon?

TOLENTINO: Ang original plan is to have a model estero before Christmas. Ongoing ho iyong efforts sa may Estero de Pac. I think ongoing iyon dito. So, we need to re-educate people and we need funds.

Q: So, iyong funds po? Let's talk about funds. Kanina po sabi ninyo 30 percent lamang po ang natutugunan natin at iyong seven percent na lang ang kulang tayo. Magkano po ang budget sa tingin ninyo ang kailangan ng MMDA?

TOLENTINO: First, taking of billions to really do this. Kaya nga ho kung matatandaan ninyo, second week in office nanawagan na ho ako sa mga private corporations. Nanawagan ho ako na pahiramin ninyo na lang kami ng mga equipment. May nag-respond hong pahiram sa kanila iyong gasoline at pangalawa ho, borrow now pay later. Kasi nakita ko ho iyon sa Talayan Village , sa Araneta Avenue. Ang dami hong mga equipment natin doon na naka-display. Nasa showroom pero kapag bumaha sila, iyon ang unang babahain. Ang sabi ko, pahiram ninyo na lang muna iyan. I-dredge natin iyong twenty meters sa likuran ninyo baka hindi kayo bahain. Mas mahal pa iyong gagastusin ninyo magpa-overhaul ng binaha ninyong equipment kaysa ipahiram ninyo sa amin, nakatulong pa kayo sa bayan.

Q: Sir, iyon pong areas sa may harap ng UST, 'di ba? Palagi hong binabaha iyon. Tinaasan po iyong kalsada. Nakatulong po ba ito o nakasama sa flood control?

TOLENTINO: Naapektuhan iyong ating ibang inlets doon and I have to admit noong pinag-aralan na namin ito ng DPWH. Mayroon po tayong mga flower pots na nabarahan iyong ating mga drainage - iyong mga manhole natin. And so, nangako po si Secretary Singson na titingnan itong mga nag-collapse na flower pots na nasa gitna na nakabara doon sa ating manhole.

Q: Pero hindi naman mali iyong programa? Iyong pagtaas ng ano...

TOLENTINO: Sa tingin ko po, iyong pagtaas was well-studied. Ginawan po ng masusing pag-aaral ng DPWH. Mayroon lang po tayong mga nabarang inlets manholes.

Q: Sir, what are the areas po, where are you doing relocation and iyong status po ng lupang arenda? Kasi 'di ba, high risk area din iyon at parang we understand noong past administration nag-start na iyong relocation.

TOLENTINO: Parang hindi namin...iyon, Ma'am.

Q: Kahit po iyong areas kung saan kayo nagre-relocate?

TOLENTINO: MMDA is not doing any relocation initiative that has to be cleared.

MMDA for the last...during my term has not been involved in demolition. In Trinoma, MMDA provided traffic management. But unfortunately, the demolition team also wore the same light blue color shirt that they used to wear. Siguro darker than this, as light as this. So, akala nila MMDA. We were there, nakita lang siguro iyong MMDA sa TV footage noong nilagay iyong outpost sa gitna. Tinulak uli namin iyong traffic enforcers sa tabi. Tinulak uli sa gitna so nagtulakan.

Q: [inaudible]

TOLENTINO: Hindi po.

Q: Iyong 30 percent na sinasabi ninyo sa basura. Hindi po ba puwedeng i-realign, i-allocate iyon sa mga LGU since iyong basura fund ng bawat LGU ay malaki at isama doon sa pagkukuha sa drainage?

TOLENTINO: So, ibig sabihin po noon dapat LGU na ang...I think the Estero Declaration sabi ko nga, is a first step. Dapat akuin din nila iyong tungkulin na sila iyong maglinis and even the barangays. So, iyon na rin siguro ang magiging consequence noong pagtatayo namin noong flood control bayanihan zones na tao na dapat ang maglinis.

Q: Sir, on other issues. Sir, Representative Erwin Cheng has proposal to ban texting while driving. May we have your…on this?

TOLENTINO: I think, I was interviewed by Channel 2. We support that initiative, not only does it distract the driver, it lessens your ability to focus. Isang kamay na lang iyong ginagamit mo, eh. Not just texting but even using a live call should not be allowed.

Q: Sir, mayroon ba kayong kinonduct na study about texting while driving. Gaano kalaki iyong epekto nito sa mga vehicular accidents in Metro Manila?

TOLENTINO: I heard about a 2007 study conducted by MMDA, but I don't have a copy with me here right now kasi akala ko floods tayo. But the effects would be really fatal.

Q: Going back to commitment of LGU, sir. How reliable is the commitment of the local executives because during election time, iyong mga informal settlers po iyong source of votes iyong marami.

TOLENTINO: You will be surprised. Ang akala ko po most of the mayors would not sign this declaration because of the forthcoming Barangay Elections. Pumirma ho lahat sila...can be surprise to know that ang Estero right across PAGCOR Casino Pilipino in Paranaque na napakiusapan ang mga local officials na mag-relocate sila two weeks ago, kahit malapit na po iyong barangay election. So, this just shows na sila mismo ay mayroong sariling commitment na nais na malinis iyong kanilang jurisdiction. Bagama't napakahirap po nito, alam ko iyong situwasyon nila but I won't mention the names of the mayors but they are doing this.

Q: Sir,...projects ninyo ng MMDA. Mas lalong nagiging talamak po ang lagayan sa mga MMDA enforcers dahil instead na mahuli sila parang bale wala iyong pinalabas ninyong batas?

TOLENTINO: There are allegations but this has to be proven and iyon naman po sigurong pinagbibintangan na ganoon ay dapat mabigyan din ng due process. But let me say the reality. Noong second day po namin in-implement ito, iyong aming mga lady environmental enforcers, sila pa ho iyong pinapagalitan. Mayroon hong binato na mineral water sa Baclaran. Bakit daw sila hinuhuli? So, iyon po iyong nangailangan na kaming magsama ng dalawang pulis bawat team namin para hindi naman masaktan iyong aming environmental enforcers. So, sometimes you have to realize the risk involved. Mayroon pong mga tao kaming tapat. Kung mayroon ho sigurong ganyan na balita, give us the names and we are willing to investigate them.

Q: Kanino po namin ibibigay ang report?

TOLENTINO: Sa akin po.

Q: Can you put on line what text number or ...?

TOLENTINO: 09178558855. Okay. Nais ko pong pasalamatan si Secretary Lacierda for this opportunity at kayo po kahit nag-bog down iyong aming diskets. Salamat po.

LACIERDA: Let me make one statement, there has been malicious gossip going around that and I'm going to pre-empt the question here that Senator Mar Roxas allegedly used a fake ID to enter the UN. It's not correct. The embassy was able to secure Senator Mr. Roxas, who by the way has spoken before the United Nations General Assembly before. They were able to secure him an ID to be able to attend the United Nations General Assembly. No truth to the rumor that he used the fake ID.

The second point, regarding the faux-pas on the inverted Philippine flag, I understand that the US Embassy has already admitted that it was an honest mistake. What was important-let me give you a background first. Our Protocol officers were able to realize that the flag was inverted but because the meeting itself had a very tight security they were able to inform the State Department well at least the corresponding protocol officers of the state Department. Unfortunately, because the security was so tight they were not able to make the necessary changes to the inverted flag. So, that is the situation there. And then, when the photo was downloaded to us. Usec. Manolo Quezon was able to inform and pinpoint to the US Embassy the inverted flag and they responded as soon as they were able to verify that situation. That's why they admitted it's an honest mistake and what is important is that they were able to respond appropriately. Alright, thank you very much.

Q: Sir, is Malacañang satisfied with that admission that it's an honest mistake? Don't you think that considering it's the primary national symbol, it warrants a formal apology?

LACIERDA: What we realized that it was a - these things happened, this thing not only happened to us. It has happened I understand also previously for other countries flags as well. What is important, it was a mistake that they recognized, it was an honest mistake. And therefore, we move on. We believe that what's more important is the relations between US and the Philippines. And also the good news that the President is going to bring home when he comes from tomorrow at 3 am.

Q: Sir, but they said that they consider us as strong allies. But friends don't usually treat close friends as doormats. And that's what happened in the absence of an apology.

LACIERDA: Mia, I think it was not an intentional insult to the Republic. We inform them but they try to do their best to rectify the situation. But you must realize that the security was tight having more than eight global leaders in that particular conference. We don't know the exact details but we were informed that security was very tight. But they were properly informed.

Q: So, you don't expect an apology at all?

LACIERDA: We are satisfied that it was recognized it was an honest mistake. What is important is that our relations are continued to be friendly and I know that it was not an intentional faux-pas on their part.

Q: Sir, regardless whether it was the mistake of the US Embassy or not I'm sure protocol will also ... that there will be advanced team within that room from our own country, from our own delegation and who did not see the mistake?

LACIERDA: Again, I'm not privy to the details of the situation. I know that we have protocol officers there. When it was seen their attention was called to that. I would have to talk to that protocol officers what really transpired prior to the meeting itself.

Q: Sir, the President said in a town hall meeting this morning that he will be bringing home $2.8 billion investments. Can you tell us which companies or at least in which industries these are in?

LACIERDA: Joel, like I said it think last Friday, we will leave the details of what the President brought home. He will be making an arrival statement and hopefully, and I'm saying this hopefully, he will be conducting a press briefing on that day itself. We will inform you if the President decides to do a press briefing.

Q: Sir, one last point, he also mentioned in the meeting that his government will not impose birth control on the people. Doesn't the President consider population growth as hindrance to economic growth?

LACIERDA: This is part of his campaign. It is more on responsible parenthood. The Filipino people would be given a slew of what ever is acceptable to them. When you say imposing birth control, it means you're abdicating choice and leaving it to the state to impose; that is not the position of the President. All the methods of planning would be provided to the Filipino public, and it is up to the parents to decide what method that they choose to use.

Q: He doesn't think that a big population weighs down growth?

LACIERDA: Again, let me say that this is more of responsible parenthood, Joel. That has been the question put forth during the campaign. And our platform there is that we will give the Filipino people the choice by which to regulate or determine the size of the family.

Q: Sir, may we get some updates on the meeting between Executive Secretary Ochoa and DILG Usec. Rico Puno? We have information, sir, na pinatawag daw po si Usec. Puno last Friday dito sa Malacañang.

LACIERDA: The words of Willard Cheng, "I will get back at you." No, I would have to ask permission from ES Ochoa if I can disclose those details and if it's true that he was called to the meeting with—I'm sorry, if Usec. Rico Puno was called to the meeting with ES Ochoa.

Q: Follow up po doon sa question ni Ms. Tuesday, related kay Usec. Puno. May isang lawmaker daw po na nagsabi na si Usec. Puno is apparently becoming a victim of factionalism inside the President's Cabinet. Si Usec. Puno daw po, since associated siya sa isang faction, iyong groups po ng other faction ang nagtutulak sa kaniya para mag-resign sa post niya using the lingering issues [interrupted]

LACIERDA: That is not correct, Aytch. It's not a question of factions. In fact, all of us are working together. Again, the allegations raised by Archbishop Cruz against Rico Puno was stated in the Senate jueteng probe. Well, that is something that Archbishop has mentioned. And so far, we hope that he'll provide more details to that because like what the President said, let's accord due process also to the person, to Usec. Puno.

Q: Also, sir, Senator Zubiri is proposing na if the President could not accept the resignation of Usec. Puno, might as well transfer him to other agencies po where he can be more competitive.

LACIERDA: More competitive?

Q: More competent po.

LACIERDA: Ah, more competent. Let's leave it to the President to decide. We cannot pre-empt the decision of the President on that matter.

Q: Sir, on another topic po, iyong about sa ten OP agencies that are about to be abolished. Why is the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission included to think na isa sa mga advocacies ni President Aquino is to fight corruption.

LACIERDA: There are other means of fighting corruption, and the government felt that we can do it separate from PAGC.

Q: Sir, may explanation na ba iyong Palace tungkol doon sa kung ano ang mangyayari sa mga empleyado ng agencies na iyon?

LACIERDA: Ang alam ko doon sa mga locally funded projects, co-terminus iyan. What I know is that some of the locally funded projects, co-terminus ang mga employees doon, Aytch. Let me verify this, we're absorbing some other agencies. But for those locally funded projects, they are co-terminus.

Q: Sir, hihingi lang po sana ng Palace comment because militant groups are asking why the VFA wasn't taken up during President Aquino's meeting with Obama?

LACIERDA: Let the President mention what transpired between his meeting with President Obama. It's something that the President will be able to share with us once he appears before us.

Q: Sir, follow up lang po on Senator Mar Roxas. Sir, I understand he attended UN Summit.

LACIERDA: That's right.

Q: This time po, ano naman po ang role niya doon sa UN Summit? Kasi I understand kaya siya sumama kay President is to help convince iyong mga investors, right?

LACIERDA: You must remember that, number one, he has spoken before the United Nations General Assembly; and number two, he is a former Senator of the Republic. I think that much we should accord him the position that he previously occupied as a former government official. And that is the reason why the Embassy provided an ID for him to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Q: And, sir, what did he do sa UN Summit? Ano iyong naging role niya?

LACIERDA: He just observed. He just observed the United Nations General Assembly.

Q: Sir, just a follow up on Senator Mar Roxas. Sir, any accomplishments Senator Mar Roxas has brought to the country for going with the President to UN Assembly, sir?

LACIERDA: I think the accomplishment was done by the President. The business delegation, in general, helped the President showing our seriousness in courting business investments towards the country. Again, our theme: the Philippines is under new management. It's open to business. And that's the thrust that we are hoping to convince the Americans when we were there, that the change of administration resulted into a level playing field. And they will be assured that the laws will be applied evenly.

Q: Sir, was he able to speak with some big time businessmen in New York, sir?

LACIERDA: That I would not be able to answer. We have to ask Senator Mar Roxas.

Q: Sir, follow up lang doon sa question ni Jam kanina about sa meeting ni President kay US President Obama. Was it really considered a bilateral talk considering na seven minutes lang daw iyon?

LACIERDA: It wasn't like, "Hi, how are you?" and then he leaves. However you describe it, Aytch. Let me say that that meeting was around - as what Norman said - was around seven minutes. Only three persons were present in that particular room. It was President Aquino, President Barrack Obama and Jay Morales, the photographer. So, what they discussed, Aytch - Jay is so lucky - whatever they discussed, Aytch, I will leave it to the President to disclose to us.

Q: Sir, what time would be the press briefing of Pangulong Benigno Aquino when he arrives?

LACIERDA: Titingnan pa po natin. Ang alam ko po ay - ang pakiusap ko lang sa inyo, pumasok po tayo nang maaga bukas.

Q: Sir, why?

LACIERDA: There might be a press briefing. We're going to confirm that. But what is definite, as early as 3 AM you're welcome to be here. No, just kidding.

Q: 3 o'clock?

LACIERDA: No, no, just kidding. 3 AM he will be arriving, and he will give an arrival statement.

Q: (off mic)

LACIERDA: I think there will be no ambush interview.

Q:(off mic)

LACIERDA: We will inform you what time. But it's in the works. And he will be able to answer all your questions on Obama, on investments, the details of the investments. I'm hoping to hear the good news. The bacon, the hotdog and all that, but primarily more on what he has brought home to the country - the investments, the number of jobs that he will be able to share to us, the good news that he will be bringing home. Alright, maraming salamat po and I'll see you tomorrow.


Transcript taken from the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines

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SEPTEMBER 28, 2010

MMDA Apprehends More Than 500 Violators Of The Anti-Littering Law

The number of apprehended violators of the anti-littering program of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has reached the 500th mark yesterday in just eight days of continuous operations in major thoroughfares of Metro Manila.

As of September 27, 588 pedestrians have been issued Environmental Violation Receipts (EVRs) by the agency's environmental police, the Health, Public Safety, and Environmental Protection Office (HPSEPO) said.

Eighty of the violators chose to pay the P500 fine while 10 opted to do community service as provided for by MMDA Regulation No. 96-009.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said he is impressed by the determination of the HPSEPO's environmental police to strictly enforce the anti-littering law.

"Despite being harassed, threatened, and shouted at, our environmental police have shown utmost dedication in enforcing this regulation. We're just hoping that the public will soon realize that throwing even a candy wrapper or a cigarette butt into the streets is a serious offense and will not in any way be tolerated," Tolentino said.

Tolentino ordered the revival of anti-littering drive starting September 16 as part of the renewed thrust of the agency to prevent the recurrence of floods caused by the clogging of the esteros and waterways.

The MMDA chief pointed out that garbage thrown in the street end up in the drainage and into the pumping stations of the MMDA, causing periodic malfunctions in the agency's flood control facilities.

"Every day we have to remove hundreds of tons of garbage from our pumping stations just to keep our machines running," Tolentino added.

As for the violators who chose to do community service, Tolentino said he will have them sweep the portion of Edsa from Edsa-Shaw Boulevard underpass up to Camp Crame.

This morning, the environmental police of the HPSEPO were deployed in Mendiola area and LRT-Gil Puyat Station to apprehend litterbugs.

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2010

MMDA & San Miguel Foundation, Inc. Sign MOA for Tullahan River Rehabilitation

In line with its policy of involving the private sector in the implementation of its various development programs, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has partnered with the San Miguel Foundation, Inc. (SMF) in the dredging and cleanup of the heavily polluted Tullahan river.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with SMF, the social development arm of the food and beverage firm San Miguel Corp. (SMC), and its subsidiary San Miguel Brewery, Inc. (SMB), formalizing the joint effort to rehabilitate the 15-kilometer river.

Tolentino said the agreement signals the start of the MMDA's strong partnership with the private sector, particularly in programs concerning environmental preservation and conservation.

"We are very thankful to the San Miguel Foundation for agreeing to work with us in our continuous cleanup of our waterways. With this public-private partnership (PPP) venture, the MMDA will not spend a single centavo," the MMDA chairman said.

The MOA was signed by the MMDA, SMF, and SMB yesterday morning, which coincided with the MMDA's commemoration of the first year anniversary of the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila and nearby provinces on September 26, 2009.

SMF was represented in the signing by its chairman, Ramon Santiago, and the SMB by its president Roberto Huang.

Under the MOA, SMF shall act as the co-project manager in the Tullahan river cleanup, and through SMB, lend to the MMDA a backhoe and a pontoon barge to be used in the dredging operations.

While the SMB will shoulder all the necessary funding, SMF will provide the MMDA with its operational requirements, such as fuel and maintenance for the heavy equipment amounting to not more than P416,396 per month.

The MMDA, in turn, will provide the qualified personnel to man and operate the dredging equipment, as well as additional equipment such as scows, cranes and dump trucks.

The project will initially run for one year and will cover the portion of Tullahan river between the San Miguel Brewery-Polo plant in Valenzuela City to Manila Bay in Navotas.

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2010

MMDA Clarifies Role In North Triangle Demolition

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday clarified that contrary to reports aired over the radio, it did not send an "MMDA Demolition Team" to implement the resettlement/relocation of informal settlers occupying the National Housing Authority-owned North Triangle Property in Quezon City, but was tasked to handle traffic management and support.

"The MMDA was notified of the resettlement/relocation operation and was asked to provide support through a 50-man team that included traffic enforcers. We were also requested to provide one bus for contingencies," clarified MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino.

"None of our personnel was involved in any engagement with the informal settlers. We pulled out our Sidewalk Clearing personnel and left 20 traffic enforcers to handle the ensuing traffic gridlock," he added.

The mass action of informal settlers resisting the demolition caused a traffic jam along the northbound lane of Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue from the East Avenue - National Printing Office to Trinoma. MMDA traffic enforcers diverted traffic to the Quezon Circle - North Avenue and coordinated with the Quezon City local government to suspend out-of-line traffic apprehensions for a smoother traffic flow. Traffic advisories were also provided via its Twitter account and to radio stations.

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2010

"Ondoy 1 A.D." - MMDA's Tribute To The Victims Of Typhoon Ondoy

As it joins the entire nation in remembering the victims of last year's typhoon "Ondoy", the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will hold a memorial mass on Monday (September 27) at the MMDA Grounds in Makati City.

The event, dubbed as "Ondoy 1 A.D. (After Disaster)", will begin at 8:30 in the morning with a mass to be celebrated by His Eminence, Manila Archbishop Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, followed by an audio-visual presentation of the "Ondoy" tragedy and the severe damage it wrought in Metro Manila and nearby provinces one year ago.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the event is meant to pay tribute to the hundreds who died in the calamity and to honor thousands of volunteers who helped in the cleanup operations.

"It is just proper to give our respects to the casualties and express our gratitude to those who provided selfless assistance during those trying times. They prove that bayanihan still exists in our country," Tolentino said.

The highlight of the event is the inaugural of a marker to be installed within the vicinity of the MMDA office, to serve as a constant reminder of the heroism and resilience shown by the Filipinos during national crisis.

Invited to grace the occasion to recount their experiences are former MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando, his wife and former Marikina City Mayor Marides Fernando, Mayors Aldrin San Pedro of Muntinlupa, Robert Eusebio of Pasig, Del De Guzman of Marikina, and Jaime Medina of the Municipality of Pateros.

Tolentino will deliver a keynote message outlining the various flood control programs and projects of the agency aimed to mitigate flooding problems and avoid a recurrence of "Ondoy".

He will also attend the "Ondoy" commemorative services in Marikina City, organized by Marikina Mayor Del De Guzman, on Sunday (September 26).

"The experts all agree that climate change is inevitable and its effects are irreversible, but we can at least try to lessen the impact and the damage by doing something to protect and conserve our environment now," Tolentino stressed.

A month-long massive cleanup and clearing operations were conducted by the agency in the cities of Marikina, the hardest-hit, Muntinlupa, and Pasig immediately after typhoon "Ondoy".

Around 2,000 workers from the Roadway Clearing Operations Group, Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group, and Rescue Unit were deployed simultaneously on the areas gravely affected by "Ondoy" to haul tons of garbage and mud from the streets.

About 21,700 hectares of Metro Manila's 650,000-hectare land area were submerged by Ondoy's floods during the first hours of the storm's onslaught.

The MMDA has also opened its own relief centers around Metro Manila to receive donations for the thousands of victims.

Meanwhile, Tolentino is inviting the public to send through email (email@mmda.gov.ph) "Ondoy" photographs which can be used by the agency on its week-long photo exhibit to start on Monday. He promised that proper acknowledgement will be given to contributors.

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2010

MMDA To Sign Landmark Covenant, "Estero Declaration", Tomorrow

Vowing to seriously address the perennial problem on flooding, the Metro Manila mayors and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will sign a landmark covenant tomorrow affirming their commitment to protect Metro Manila's valuable waterways.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the mayors' "Estero Declaration" signals the start of a stronger and more meaningful partnership between the MMDA and the local chief executives in the campaign to control environmental pollution and prevent the recurrence of flooding in the metropolis.

"This is a big event in a way that we have finally gotten the full support of the mayors in coming up with measures to combat floods. Flooding is a very serious problem that should be acted upon by all concerned sectors, not just the MMDA," Tolentino said.

The signing of the covenant will be held at the MMDA office in Makati City at 9 am on Friday, September 17, just more than a week before the September 26 1st anniversary of typhoon "Ondoy", the worst tropical typhoon in recent years that brought massive floods and untold damage to lives and properties in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The 17 mayors of the National Capital Regional (NCR) will be personally present to the sign the declaration.

Under the Estero Declaration, the mayors will pledge to actively implement their respective anti-littering ordinances, as well as to clean and dredge the esteros, creeks, and other waterways located within their jurisdiction.

The local chief executives will also throw their full support to the MMDA's campaign to dismantle and remove all structures, constructions, and other encroachments along waterways as provided for under Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

As for the informal settlers, the mayors will pledge to help relocate them in coordination with the national government agencies "in a humane manner cognizant of every person's right to a decent dwelling place and standard of living."

According to MMDA statistics, the number of informal settlers in 2009 had ballooned to 544,609 families based on the submitted list by the 17 local government units of Metro Manila.

The mayors and the MMDA will also commit to urgently implement medium- and long-term plans to mitigate and eradicate the life-threatening effects of environmental degradation.

"We acknowledge our collective responsibility to advance and strengthen the mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development - economic development, social development and environmental development - at the local and regional levels," the mayors' declaration stated.

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2010

MMDA To Resume "Lingap sa Barangay" Cleanup Campaign In Sampaloc Tomorrow

After the successful cleanup operations in some areas of Quezon City, Manila, and Pasay City, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will resume its "Lingap sa Barangay" program tomorrow morning at the Sampaloc area in Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that personnel from the agency's road and sidewalk clearing, landscape, and construction and equipment management units will be deployed to the area to give assistance to local officials and residents in cleaning the roadways, declogging of drainage systems, trimming of trees, repair of manholes, and dredging of the Estero de Calubcob.

The operations will concentrate on Geronimo, Carola, and Fajardo streets which form part of Barangay 432 of Manila's District IV.

Fogging operations will also be conducted at Licero Geronimo, Moises Salvador, and Trinidad Ticson Elementary Schools on Saturday.

"We will continue this program to promote cleanliness and health-consciousness in the barangays," the MMDA chairman said. "This is one of the best ways that we can be of service to the public."

According to Tolentino, the Lingap program is a vital factor of the agency's mandate to implement improvement projects that are towards sustainable healthy-living.

Barangay officials and constituents of the areas previously helped by MMDA such as Tatalon, Pritil, and Tayuman, have shown utmost cooperation and appreciation during the cleanup operations.

The MMDA officially started the "Lingap sa Barangay" campaign in several barangays in Quezon City and Manila two weeks ago, to help depressed and densely populated communities prevent diseases such as dengue.

On Friday, the MMDA's next stop will be Barangay Caruhatan in Valenzuela City.

Meanwhile, Tolentino will attend the inauguration of the Wastewater Treatment Plant for the Sta. Ana Public Market tomorrow morning.

The treatment plant is part of the USAID Philippine Sanitation Alliance's Pasig River Improvement Project in collaboration with the MMDA, the City of Manila, and Rotary International District 3810.

It will use low-cost and low-maintenance technology to treat the market sewage to a level that meets government discharge standards.

The project is expected to improve solid waste management, community sanitation, and public health at the Sta. Ana and Paco areas in Manila.

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2010

MMDA Mulls Law On Serving Alcoholic Beverages

Owners of bars, restaurants, and other business establishments that serve alcoholic drinks, read this.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in an effort to curb drunk driving, is mulling over an ordinance that will require bars, beerhouses, and similar entertainment centers to limit the sale of alcoholic drinks to customers, particularly to those who have to drive home at night.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said he will bring this up to the Metro Manila Council (MMC) to drum up support to the agency's relentless campaign to promote road safety.

"For our anti-drunk driving campaign to succeed, we have to attack the source - those bars, nightclubs and restaurants that seem to have all the freedom in the world selling liquors. Maybe it's about time the government should have some kind of control over these business establishments," Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief said most of the drunk drivers they have apprehended or who have figured in accidents are those who just came from a drinking binge at bars and nightclubs.

He said these nightspots are making a killing by offering "beer promos" at outrageously low prices, which only encourages customers to buy more and get drunk.

"Those beer bucket promos lure customers to drink more. And once they are into it, they forget that they still have to drive home," Tolentino said.

Tolentino said he has formed a survey team that will go around the prominent bars and nightclubs in Metro Manila to check on the operation of these establishments.

He added these business establishments should have a strict guideline or system that will determine if a particular customer has already reached his or her maximum alcohol tolerance level.

"We have to have a rule wherein a customer should no longer be served any alcoholic drinks if his or blood alcohol concentration level has already reached, for example, 0.08 percent," Tolentino pointed out.

He stressed he will discuss this matter to the mayors, who compose the MMC, to get more ideas or suggestions to fine tune this proposal; it is the mayors who will enact ordinances to enforce this scheme in their respective jurisdiction.

For the meantime, Tolentino said he has also ordered a thorough study about the legal implications of this matter.

"Other countries have stricter laws against drunk driving and have adopted stringent measures such as on-the-spot breath analysis," he added.

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SEPTEMBER 13, 2010

MMDA To Provide Free Hospitalization To Its Traffic Enforcers

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will ink an agreement tomorrow with the Chinese General Medical Hospital to provide free hospitalization to the agency's traffic enforcers.

This was announced by Chairman Francis Tolentino during an inspection he made of all field traffic personnel at the Fort Bonifacio parade grounds over the weekend and during today's flag raising ceremony held at the MMDA grounds in Makati City.

"In addition to the free hospitalization, we will try to give all benefits due our traffic enforcers to motivate them to perform their duties well, with integrity and honesty," Tolentino said. "I have instructed our legal department to speed up the reconsideration we are asking from the Commission on Audit regarding this matter."

Further, the agency will institutionalize a merit system which will evaluate the performance of the more than 2,000 traffic enforcers deployed throughout the metropolis.

A committee will be organized to screen and select exemplary traffic personnel of good moral standing who will be awarded as traffic enforcer/s of the week, half year, and whole year accordingly.

A certificate of commendation will be given to the traffic enforcer/s of the week while free college education awaits the eldest child of the traffic enforcer of the half year.

An enforcer who wins the award for two consecutive years will be entitled to a house and lot at the MMDA Housing Project in Carmona, Cavite.

"Our traffic enforcers deserve to be treated with respect. Their efforts should be recognized as they work under hazardous conditions on a daily basis. As front liners, they represent the agency to the public and their actions reflect not only their unit but the entire MMDA," Tolentino stressed. "They should always embody the MMDA motto of Marangal Matapat Disiplinado Ako. (I am honorable, honest, and disciplined)"

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MMDA Extends "Lingap Sa Barangay" Cleanup Drive In Quezon City and Manila

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is extending its Lingap sa Barangay clean-up drive to reduce flooding and stem the spate of dengue cases in two densely populated and depressed communities in Quezon City and Manila for a few weeks due to insistent public demand.

Barangay officials and residents of Tatalon, Q. C. and District 1 of Tondo said that following the success of the agency's clean-up drive in their respective areas, they have asked MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino to extend it until they are ready to run the program themselves.

Even as this developed, Tolentino said preparations have been underway for the agency's 500-man Lingap contingent team to undertake similar operations in 13 congested barangays and 13 public schools in Pasay City starting tomorrow, Sept. 10.

The chairman said Lingap is the agency's community outreach project and is a component of its broader mandate to implement various development and public assistance projects, all of which are geared towards attaining ecological balance

"But most of all, this is a work in progress in participatory governance," he said.

When asked by newsmen to comment on the grounds covered by the project, Tolentino said "I know we have started to accomplish something, but so much more, too, remains to be done. It is advantageous for the government and beneficial for the residents that a more coherent and synchronized approach be taken by all agencies and the public and private sector involved in the project.

Benedict Beñega, barangay chairman of Tatalon, said his constituents have shown cooperation and assistance to clear their surroundings wanting in cleanliness and orderliness following the Lingap efforts initiated by the MMDA.

"This is a wake-up call for all of us here in Tatalon. While it is they (the MMDA) who pitch in from cleaning and clearing of sidewalks and easements to removing tires on our roofs where dengue-carrying mosquitoes usually breed and eventually repairing the roofs themselves, we are now learning the ropes on how to take proactive measures in the clean-up and anti-littering drives," Beñega said.

Tolentino tasked MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno to act as ground commander of the Tatalon cleanup campaign and the skeletal force to mop up the area.

"We don't want to leave things unfinished. We will haul all the debris left by our cleanup and ensure that the local barangay can now be left to maintain the cleanliness of their community," Nacianceno said.

On the other hand, Barangay 90, Zone 7, Tondo Chairman Dario Imutan said the MMDA Lingap project is the start of a concerted effort to enable the residents of Metro Manila to participate in nation-building and benefit from it

The Lingap sa Barangay campaign kicked off last Friday in Tatalon and Tondo where a high incidence of dengue cases has been reported by the Department of Health.

MMDA road clearing and construction personnel, with cleaning and dredging implements and equipment in tow, will be regularly deployed to different barangays every week, from Friday to Sunday, to help local officials and residents clean the roadways, markets, drainage systems and other public places, including the destruction of possible breeding places of mosquitoes.

Fogging operations are also being conducted by the MMDA in schools and communities making use of the latest chemicals available, which according to experts, can kill adult dengue carrying mosquitoes.

Likewise, the MMDA has initiated dialogues and conducted information dissemination campaigns among the barangay officials and affected families on cleanliness and anti-littering and the enforcement of its rules and regulations.

The program also includes clearing the sidewalks and easements of all forms of obstruction, bundling up dangling wires and cables on the streets, repairing and desilting drainage facilities, and dredging waterways and creeks within sight of the main road.

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Metro Manila Council to Review the Re-implementation of Number Coding Scheme on Public Utility Buses

The Metro Manila mayors have agreed in principle to re-impose the number coding scheme on public utility buses (PUBs).

This agreement was reached at the Metro Manila Council (MMC) meeting held at the Makati City Hall Wednesday. Three of the 17-member council of mayors asked that the Land Transportation Office and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board submit time and motion studies so they could further review the matter.

Meanwhile, Marikina Councilor Serafin Bernardino, president of the Metro Manila Councilors League and a voting member of the MMC, also voiced his support for the proposal.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said he is elated at the support for the agency's proposal to re-include PUBs in the strict enforcement of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP).

"We need to regulate the number of buses if only to help improve traffic conditions on our major thoroughfares," Tolentino said.

Tolentino asked the mayors and their representatives for their opinions and suggestions on the planned revival of the UVVRP to PUBs.

During his first day in office, Tolentino canceled all existing UVVRP exemptions and brought up the idea of re-imposing the regulation to PUBs while ordering an extensive anti-colorum campaign.

Malabon City Mayor Canuto Oreta's representative said the city government of Malabon has long been in support of the MMDA's UVVRP, especially if the PUBs will be re-included among those covered by the traffic scheme.

The city government of Quezon, Metro Manila's biggest city, urged the MMDA and the council to act fast on the proposal.

"There have been too many buses in Edsa that run half-empty. They only add up to the traffic volume. We are 100 percent behind this," Mayor Herbert Bautista's representative said.

On the other hand, Mayors Binay (Makati), San Pedro (Muntinlupa), and Gatchalian (Valenzuela) asked the MMDA for more time to study the proposal so as not to unnecessarily affect the riding public.

PUBs were covered by the UVVRP until 2004 when then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the suspension of the traffic scheme for passenger buses.

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MMDA to Re-implement Anti-Littering Law Beginning September 16, 2010

Starting September 16, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will re-implement Regulation Number 96-009 or the Anti-Littering Law after it was approved in principle during today's regular Metro Manila Council (MMC) meeting held at the Makati City Hall.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said personnel from the agency's Health, Public Safety, and Environment Protection Office (HPSEPO) as well as deputized environmental police or enforcers will start apprehending offenders and issue the Environmental Violation Receipt (EVR).

The said regulation, amended by MMDA Regulation Number 99-006, approved by the MMC on 1996, prohibits littering, dumping, and throwing of garbage or any kind of waste in open or public places. It also requires all business establishments, public or private, to maintain the cleanliness of their frontages and immediate surroundings. Its implementation was suspended in 2003.

Under the law, violators are issued an EVR, with corresponding fines ranging from PhP500 to PhP1,000 and community service for those who cannot afford to pay the administrative fines.

The members of the MMC, the agency's policy-making body, were all in agreement to integrate the salient points of all existing anti-littering ordinances implemented by the seventeen local government units (LGUs) comprising Metro Manila, MMDA Regulation 99-006, and Republic Act 9003 otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Act of the Philippines.

Among the important concerns raised were the different penalties imposed among the LGUs, integrated health campaign, deputation of environmental enforcers, and budgetary requirements.

"We will be going around the LGUs and conduct information and education campaign for public awareness before we start our actual apprehension," Tolentino said, emphasizing the need for active public cooperation.

The re-implementation of the Anti-Littering Law is in pursuit of MMDA's mandate to uphold the health and sanitation of the metropolis and its residents.

The meeting was attended by City Mayors Aldrin San Pedro of Muntinlupa, Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Jejomar Erwin Binay of Makati, Ma. Laarni Cayetano of Taguig, John Rey Tiangco of Navotas, Enrico Echeverri of Caloocan, Jaime Medina of the Municipality of Pateros, and representatives from the other LGUs and various government agencies.

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"MMDA Lingap sa Barangay" Cleanup Campaign In Tondo And Tatalon A Success!

After successfully conducting extensive cleanup operations in Tatalon, Quezon City and Tondo, Manila, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's "Lingap sa Barangay" cleanup campaign will move to Pasay City possibly this week.

This as barangay officials in Tatalon and Tondo have conveyed their utmost appreciation to the MMDA for helping their communities in its cleanup and anti-littering drive.

"We were overwhelmed by the cooperation and the appreciation these barangay chairmen have shown us during our cleanup operations. This only shows that they are sincere in enforcing community rules against indiscriminate dumping of garbage, and littering and sanitation," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said. "We realized that this is participatory planning at its best."

Last Friday, the MMDA officially kicked off its "MMDA Lingap sa Barangay" campaign in several barangays in Quezon City and Manila. The cleanup drive is aimed at helping depressed and densely populated communities prevent or stem the tide of diseases such as dengue.

The operation involved road and sidewalk clearing, dredging of drainages, creeks, and waterways, and the fumigation of barangays.

MMDA workers also removed stacks of old tires that residents used as weight to their roofs, which are breeding places for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

In exchange for the tires, the MMDA fixed the residents' houses for free.

As with Pasay, Tolentino said he has tasked MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno to coordinate with the city government to identify barangays and what possible aid the agency could extend.

After Pasay, the MMDA's possible next stop is Valenzuela City.

"This is a continuous endeavor so as to encourage barangays to conduct its own cleanliness programs," the MMDA chairman said.

Recounting his talks with the barangay chairmen of Tatalon and Tondo last Friday, Tolentino said he has discovered that barangay officials have actually long wanted to enforce anti-littering ordinances but are unable to do so for one reason or another.

Barangay officials said the MMDA's help is a big welcome, especially its heavy and specialized equipment in cleaning the canals and drainages and the destruction of possible breeding grounds of mosquitoes.

In turn, Tolentino said the barangay officials' cooperation is also a big help since they could lead the information drive on their constituents.

"They support our plan to deploy environmental police, but for the meantime, we will conduct extensive information drives in the areas to encourage the participation of the communities / neighborhood. The program will fail if the communities themselves do not realize the good it will do them to run the program themselves," he added.

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MMDA Sends Assistance to Navotas City Residents Affected By The Fire

Responding to Mayor John Rey Tiangco's appeal for assistance, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) sent portable toilets and water tankers to Navotas City to alleviate the plight of hundreds of homeless residents affected by a huge fire last Thursday.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino also ordered the deployment of at least 40 construction workers in Barangays Navotas West and Sitat to construct wooden mattresses for the displaced residents who are now temporarily housed in evacuation centers.

"We have provided portalets and tankers so they would have adequate supply of water. We support Mayor Tiangco's efforts to help his constituents," Tolentino said.

He added there are plans to field 30 more members of the MMDA's Construction Equipment Management Office (CEMO) to help in the reconstruction efforts. The agency will also bring in construction materials.

There are already 75 members of Roadway Clearing Group (RCG), Roadway Cleaning Operations Group (RCOG), and CEMO presently working at the site.

The MMDA workers have been tasked to construct at least 200 wooden beds for evacuees.

At least 7,000 families were left homeless when a fire swept through a depressed area in Barangays Navotas West and Sitat Thursday evening. Two children were reportedly killed.

Tolentino said the MMDA is ready to provide all forms of assistance to local governments in distress.

The MMDA, he said, is always on hand to extend aid to cities and municipalities ravaged by disasters. In the aftermath of typhoon "Ondoy" last year, the agency led the rehabilitation of Marikina, Muntinlupa and other storm-hit areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Last June 2009, the MMDA deployed workers and engineers to Pangasinan, five towns of which, including the capital city of Alaminos, were extremely damaged by tyhoon "Emong".

The MMDA contingent also brought in equipment and helped clear, repair, and reconstruct roadways, villages and vital infrastructures in the municipalities of Bolinao, Bani, Anda, and Agno.

In July 2008, the MMDA also sent a 300-man team to Iloilo City and Kalibo, Aklan which were badly hit by typhoon "Frank".

Armed with heavy equipment, the MMDA workers cleared and de-clogged silt and debris in the inlets and drainages near the Iloilo Domestic Airport.

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"MMDA Lingap sa Barangay"

Starting tomorrow (Sept. 3), at least 600 able-bodied personnel of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will scour densely populated and depressed barangays in Quezon City and Manila in a massive clean-up drive initially dubbed as "MMDA Lingap sa Barangay" to stem the dire effects of flooding and the reported spate of dengue cases in Metro Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said that road clearing, sidewalk clearing and construction and equipment personnel ,with cleaning, dredging implements and heavy equipment in tow, will form part of the contingent team that will be deployed in alternate shifts to four Quezon City and Manila barangays per day every week from Friday to Sunday  to help local officials and residents clean the roadways, markets, drainage systems and other public places, including the destruction of possible breeding places of mosquitoes.

Fogging operations will be conducted tomorrow at several communities in Novaliches and Valenzuela City making use of the latest chemical available, which according to experts, can kill even adult dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Tolentino said that simultaneously with the clean-up activities, the public safety office of the MMDA, headed by Aldo Mayor, will conduct a mini-seminar on the agency's disaster preparedness program among the local executives and the residents to increase their awareness on the contingency measures to be taken in times of exigencies.

The chairman said the clean-up campaign is a component of the MMDA's community outreach program and is in line with its broader mandate to implement programs on solid waste disposal, flood control and sewerage management, urban renewal and health and sanitation, all of which he said, are geared towards the enhancement of ecological balance in various communities within Metro Manila, in coordination with the local government units (LGUS) concerned.

"With linkages established and firmed up, and together with the LGUs and private sector concerned, this community outreach program is a timely and relevant project that will have immeasurable impact on the lives of our people faced with various challenges and serious difficulties," Tolentino said.

"We also have handpicked people from the ranks of the MMDA who half-run and not just walk, and yes, with a true sense of urgency to assist the public," he added.

The move to include anti-dengue clean-up operations in the outreach program was taken by the MMDA following recent pronouncements of officials of the Department of Health that they have placed under close watch 15 villages in Quezon City and 98 barangays in the city of Manila where high incidence of dengue cases has been reported since the start of the year.

Among the Q.C. barangays that have been placed under close watch by health officials include Gulod, Batasan Hills, San Bartolome, Tandang Sora, Nagkaisang Nayon, Bagong Silangan, Bagbag, Culiat, Novaliches, Payatas, Bahay Toro, Tatalon, Pasong Tamo, Bagong Pagasa and Sta. Monica.

They have also identified Barangay 128 of Smokey Mountain and the whole District 1 of Tondo covering 97 barangays as dengue hotspots in Manila.

Tomorrow's clean-up drive will kick off at Batasan Hills and Tandang Sora in Quezon City where the 600-man MMDA workforce will bring along with them implements such as rakes, bolos, cutters and water tankers for cleaning, and heavy equipment such as backhoes, manlifters, dump trucks, kuliglig and boom trucks to dredge and desilt canals, esteros and drainage inlets, repair dilapidated and protruded house facades, and to bundle up dangling wires and cables along the streets.

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MMDA Not Blocking Baclaran Rerouting Scheme

MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino clarified that the Agency is not blocking the Bus Rerouting Scheme in Baclaran, Parañaque. It requested a deferment due to ongoing consultations with stakeholders and other concerned city officials.

"We need to consult the stakeholders, so as not to unduly inconvenience the public and for the scheme to be more effective and efficient," he said.

The scheme aims to streamline the flow of traffic in Baclaran, a center for traders and shoppers, and thousands of Catholics who visit National Shrine of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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MMDA Launches Redesigned Website

To foster more effective information dissemination, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today launched its new redesigned website at www.mmda.gov.ph.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the reconstruction of the MMDA website is in line with the agency's renewed thrust to use technology in the pursuit of its mandate.

The new website features eleven sections: Main, News, Services, Projects, Legal Matters, Metro Manila Council, Photo Gallery, Careers, Contact Us, Frequently Asked Questions, and Transparent Governance.

Incorporated in the Main section is the new MMDA vision statement, latest news, and links to the social media tools used by the agency such as email, Google map of Metro Manila, Facebook, Twitter, and MMDA News Channel on Youtube.

It also contains links to various government offices and agencies such as the website of the Office of the President, The Official Gazette, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the Asian Network of Major Cities.

The Photo Gallery section boasts of a more extensive compilation of photographs of the agency's most recent activities, while the section dedicated to the Metro Manila Council now shows the profile and contact information of the Metro Manila Mayors and Congressmen.

A new section is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) which addresses the most common inquiries by the public in relation to the agency's functions and other relevant subjects.

Currently, the FAQ section has articles on ten things that drivers should know, procedures in settling outstanding traffic citation tickets, updated traffic fines and penalties, and the revised rules on the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program or number coding scheme.

The section on Transparent Governance will contain invitations to bid for the agency's projects as well as contracts awarded to suppliers and service providers.

"The Internet is a good medium to effectively communicate with the public. We intend to make full use of all available technologies and resources to deliver on time and up-to-date information to the public," Tolentino said.

According to Tolentino, the public has responded warmly to the agency's efforts of communicating through social networking sites, as evident in the MMDA Twitter account, now regarded as the most active among government Twitter accounts with more than 9,000 followers after only less than a month since its launch. It provides daily traffic updates, flood alerts, accident reports, and official announcements from the agency.

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AUGUST 27, 2010

Sec. Tolentino Marks His 30th Day In Office

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino marks his thirtieth day in office today with a pledge to come up with long-term solutions to the problems of Metro Manila.

Tolentino said he is envisioning a Metro Manila Blueprint 2030 which shall include a comprehensive land use plan and an integrated urban transport system for the region until 2030, duly approved by the League of City Mayors, Vice Mayors, and Councilors.

“Having this blueprint would mean continuity in the implementation of all vital projects and programs, regardless of who is in charge,” Tolentino pointed out.

Addressing a group of former justices during yesterday’s Kapihan sa Klub, Inc. forum at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, Tolentino detailed the accomplishments of the agency under his one-month administration.

Tolentino’s first order of business was the cancellation of more than 6,500 exemptions to the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the number coding scheme to alleviate the traffic situation within the metropolis, particularly along the major thoroughfares.

“My first month in office is like a whirlwind, days passed by so quickly. I am at the office from Mondays to Sundays, usually until nine o’clock in the evening, to personally oversee the daily affairs of the agency,” Tolentino said.

The deployment of traffic enforcers during nighttime under the “Oplan 24/7” to ensure public road safety and smooth traffic flow was also one of the very first programs initiated by Tolentino.

The MMDA chief likewise commended deserving traffic enforcers on a weekly basis.

“I’d like to show the public that there are traffic enforcers and other employees who are honest and dedicated to their jobs, contrary to popular public perception that our agency is composed of corrupt personnel,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino also came up with a new meaning for the acronym of MMDA: Marangal, Matapat, Disiplinado Ako. The message will be incorporated in the new agency logo which will be launched next week.

An environmental lawyer, Tolentino is considering the re-enforcement of the Anti-Littering Law in order to curb indiscriminate dumping on waterways and public places.

He also initiated monthly dialogues with MMDA employees to hear their concerns, a first in the history of the agency. He will do the same for stakeholders such as vendors and public transport operators.

A keen believer of volunteerism, Tolentino enlisted 500 volunteers to augment the agency’s manpower during times of disaster and calamities.

“The work is not easy, but with many hands joining to achieve common goals and pursue common interests, no task is ever too difficult to accomplish,” Tolentino stressed.

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AUGUST 26, 2010

MMDA To Provide Free Medical Insurance Coverage To Night-Duty Traffic Enforcers And Rescue & Emergency Personnel

Aware of the risks its field employees face while on duty, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will provide free medical insurance coverage to night-duty traffic enforcers and rescue and emergency personnel.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the insurance benefit will initially be given to 350 disaster response volunteers and the 60 traffic enforcers on graveyard shift.

“These men perform extraordinary tasks and it is only proper that we take care of them and their family. This is the least we could give them in exchange for their hard work and sacrifice,” Tolentino said.

The MMDA’s Public Safety Office is presently training 350 volunteers to form the agency’s 24-hour rescue and emergency units, which will be deployed in the event of flooding and other disasters.

Since they are volunteers, they will receive no other compensation from the MMDA except allowances, according to Tolentino.

The MMDA will soon sign a memorandum of agreement with an insurance company and the Rotary Club of Pasig, which will shoulder the insurance premiums of the employee-beneficiaries.

Tolentino said they are still ironing out the terms and conditions of the insurance coverage but pointed out that initially, the employee-beneficiaries will receive P50,000 indemnification, which will increase to P250,000 after a year.

“The beneficiaries and the MMDA will not pay a single centavo. Rotary Club of Pasig will shoulder all the costs,” the MMDA chief said.

The certificates of insurance, or the insurance policy, will be given to the volunteers after their graduation from their extensive training.

Aside from the night-duty traffic enforcers, also covered in the insurance package are members of Rescue and Road Emergency Group, especially those who do nighttime duties, and other field employees doing hazardous work.

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AUGUST 25, 2010

MMDA Considers Re-Implementation Of The Anti-Littering Law

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is considering the re-implementation of the Anti-Littering Law next month in a bid to address the problem of tons of garbage indiscriminately dumped into waterways and other public places.

MMDA Regulation Number 96-009 as amended by MMDA Regulation Number 99-006 or the Anti-Littering Law, approved by the Metro Manila Council (MMC) on August 1996, prohibits littering, dumping, and throwing of garbage or any kind of waste in open or public places.

Further, it requires all commercial establishments, public or private, to maintain the cleanliness of their frontages and immediate surroundings.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino ordered the agency’s Health, Public Safety, and Environment Protection Office (HPSEPO) to finalize the manual of operations or implementing guidelines which will incorporate all existing anti-littering ordinances of the seventeen local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila for more effective enforcement.

“I think there is an urgent need to re-implement this law in order to keep the metropolis clean, safe, and healthy,” Tolentino said.

Under the law, violators are issued an Environmental Violation Receipt (EVR), with corresponding fines ranging from PhP500 to PhP1,000 and community service for those who cannot afford to pay the administrative fines. Violators with unsettled records will not be able to get a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation.

From January 1999 to July 2002, MMDA apprehended a total of 222,956 violators, 1,583 of whom rendered community service, while 20,943 cases were filed in different Metropolitan Trial Courts. Around PhP12 million was collected from administrative fines paid by the violators and divided accordingly between MMDA and the concerned LGUs.
The implementation of the law was suspended in 2003 after it was overtaken by more pressing priority programs of the authority.

An environmental lawyer, Tolentino underscored the need for active public cooperation and social responsibility.

“I am hopeful that the possible re-implementation of the said law will instill discipline among the residents of Metro Manila,” Tolentino said.

According to the MMDA chief, he will discuss the matter with the MMC, the policy-making body of MMDA composed of the seventeen mayors of Metro Manila, for their concurrence.

Among the important issues Tolentino will raise are the possibilities of setting up an environmental adjudication board, integrated health campaign, deputation of environmental enforcers, and budgetary requirements.

The proposed re-implementation of the Anti-Littering Law is in accordance with MMDA’s mandate to safeguard the health and sanitation of the region, enhance ecological balance and prevent and control environmental pollution.

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AUGUST 23, 2010

Sec. Francis Tolentino Urged Motorists To Observe Diligence On The Road

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today urged motorists to observe utmost diligence on the road to ensure the safety of everyone.

Tolentino made the call after a traffic enforcer of the agency was run over by a taxi at the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa) – Aurora intersection while on duty last Sunday (August 15).

Traffic Officer Alfred Barrios, Jr., was slammed by a Rodailyne Taxi with license plate PYC-378 driven by Ariel Baniqued at around 7:50 in the morning while manning the traffic at the said area.

Traffic enforcers who witnessed the accident said the driver made a u-turn going southbound when he accidentally hit Barrios. According to Baniqued, he didn’t notice Barrios.

Barrios sustained serious injuries on his extremities and was immediately rushed to the National Orthopedic Hospital in Quezon City where he is scheduled to undergo a series of operations on his right leg.

Baniqued, meanwhile, was brought to the Central Police District Station 10 for investigation.

“I am appealing to the drivers to strictly comply with traffic rules and to be more safety-conscious in order to avoid road mishaps,” Tolentino said.

According to Tolentino, MMDA is consistently coming up with solutions to address the perennial traffic problem, with foremost consideration on the safety of the public, be it pedestrian or motorists. However, he said the agency’s efforts will go to waste if the drivers themselves will ignore and disobey traffic rules and disregard traffic enforcers.

“The traffic enforcers should be treated with respect and should be commended for performing their duties well. Their job is hazardous as they are exposed to unsafe working conditions on a daily basis,” Tolentino stressed.

Meanwhile, Tolentino commended two personnel from the Traffic and Transport Management Office during this morning’s flag raising ceremony at the MMDA grounds in Makati City.

Traffic Aide II Reynaldo Del Rosario and Traffic Enforcer II Tristan Jessie Neñeria were both recognized as the Model Traffic Enforcers of the Week for their honesty and dedication. They were given certificates of commendation and grocery items as simple tokens of appreciation.

Del Rosario was commended for his dedication and tireless performance while Neñeria was commended for rejecting and reporting an attempted bribery incident in Makati City last week.

“The two gentlemen personify the MMDA’s slogan of Matapat, Marangal, Disiplinado Ako. Good men and women are working in the agency, not only among the ranks of traffic enforcers, but in other departments as well,” Tolentino noted.

“We will be giving commendations every week to deserving employees in order to inspire our people to perform their jobs well, with fervor and integrity,” Tolentino said.

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AUGUST 20, 2010

MMDA Chair Enlists Public To Help Combat Flooding

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino today called on businessmen and private citizens to help mitigate the effects of flooding in Metro Manila this rainy season by observing proper waste disposal and cleaning their own surroundings.

An environmental lawyer, the Chairman emphasized the public's need to uphold civil will and promote social responsibility. He made the appeal preparatory to the launching of MMDA's massive clean-up of flood-prone areas and the re-implementation of the Anti-Littering Law.

MMDA personnel started coordinating with owners of business establishments and car dealers along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (Edsa), from Ortigas to Camp Crame, to help in the clean-up drive to clean those parts of Edsa directly fronting their stores.

Apart from maintaining cleanliness in their own frontages, Tolentino is also calling on these businessmen to also serve as spotters of floods in their vicinity and prevent their customers from illegally parking their vehicles on the sidewalks in front of their establishments.

“Every Metro Manilan can be a part of this effort, we can start by cleaning up the streets and not littering," the Chairman said, even as he stressed that every piece of trash that is indiscriminately thrown ends up in the waterways which ultimately causes floods and endangers lives.

Meantime, the MMDA is set to train some 500 volunteers on the basics of timely interventions and immediate response to flood victims during inclement weather situations at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City on Sunday (Aug. 22).

“In keeping with the spirit of volunteerism in times of crisis, our agency recognizes the vital role of the private sector in providing effective and efficient service,” Tolentino said.

The 1,600-strong Philippine College of Surgeons led by its president Dr. Dexter Aison is also slated to conduct a one-and-a-half hour lecture on basic life support among the 4000 organic personnel of the MMDA and volunteers who form part of the Inclement Weather Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan or “Oplan Unos” that will deliver the necessary disaster preparedness mechanisms during crisis situations.

Dr. Aison said 5-10 minutes of proper medical attention to be administered by the task force members on flood victims is crucial.

On the planned massive clean-up of filthy areas in Metro Manila and the re-enforcement of the Anti-Littering Law, the MMDA prepared a manual of operations spelling out the systems and procedures of enforcement, payment of corresponding penalties and the deputation of environmental enforcers who will apprehend litterbugs.

Litterbugs caught will be cited by environmental officers according to the nature of offenses ranging from littering and illegal dumping of garbage to illegal posting of signages and billboards. They will be slapped with fines ranging from P500 to P1,000.

In case the violator cannot afford to pay the prescribed administrative fines, he has the option to render community service.

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AUGUST 19, 2010

No Let-up In MMDA Anti-Colorum Drive

MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino denied that the Agency’s drive against colorum vehicles and other traffic violators is waning.

“There are reports that after the first few days, our enforcers stopped apprehending errant vehicles, resulting in worsening traffic conditions,” he said. “Our statistics show that on August 3 to 4, we apprehended over a hundred vehicles. We continued to apprehend an average of two vehicles a day from August 6-18,” he said. “The succeeding apprehensions were not as many as at the outset, but this is only because our first week was very successful. We sent a strong signal against the colorum vehicles, thus majority of rogue operators no longer traverse our public thoroughfares.”

Tolentino pointed out that reported traffic build-up during the morning of August 19 was not due to a heavy volume of vehicles, but to the dismantling of a waiting shed by the MMDA Traffic Engineering Center along EDSA-Santolan in Quezon City, DPWH asphalting at EDSA-Taft and digging by Manila Water at Evangelista-EDSA in Makati. He cited that MMDA impounding areas are still full, despite ongoing Releases Pending Adjudication (RPA).

Tolentino assured that the Agency would not relent in its push to apprehend traffic violators, and called on the public to report specific violations to the MMDA.

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AUGUST 18, 2010

MRT 7 Project Approved By RDC-NCR Sectoral Committee On Infrastructure Development

The Sectoral Committee on Infrastructure Development of the Regional Development Council for the National Capital Region (RDC-NCR) approved the endorsement of the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT 7) to the RDC-NCR proper. This took place during a meeting of the Committee chaired by its head, Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian on August 13, 2010 at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

MRT 7 will be the fourth rail rapid transit line to be built in Metro Manila. When completed, the line will be 22-km long with 14 stations, and will be operated by the Universal LRT Corporation (ULC) under a Built-Gradual Transfer-Operate- and-Maintain scheme. DOTC representative Joel Magbanua said that the 14 terminals have already been identified, however, maybe subject to change during the preparation of the detailed design which will also be approved by the concerned local government units.

The line will run in a northeast direction, traversing Quezon City and part of Kalookan City in Metro Manila before ending at the City of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan province.

Passengers will be able to transfer to the Yellow Line and Blue Line through the Metro Manila Integrated Rail Terminal that will link the three lines at North Avenue in Quezon City.

The project will provide a 22-km rail transportation from Bocaue Exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to the intersection of North Avenue and EDSA and a 22-km 6-lane highway road that will connect the NLEX to San Jose del Monte. The 22-km mostly elevated MRT will start from there and end at the integrated station beside SM City North EDSA.

The project will traverse the center island to avoid displacement of settlers. Mr. Mario Miranda of ULC said the construction period is expected to last 3-1/2 years. He added that a traffic management plan will be approved by the MMDA to ensure smooth flow of traffic during construction.

Headed by MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino, the RDC-NCR is composed of the 17 Metro Manila mayors and the secretaries and heads of national government line agencies in Metro Manila and sectoral committees as members, among others.

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AUGUST 17, 2010

MMDA RTV, Closed Down Effective Yesterday

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) closed down its radio and television (MMDA RTV) stations effective yesterday as a cost-cutting measure.

Chairman Francis Tolentino issued Office Order Number 125 dated August 13, ordering the immediate termination of the MMDA RTV on midnight of August 16.

“I have decided to cease the operations of MMDA RTV because we have been spending at least PhP1-million every month for it, and so far, it was not able to reach out effectively to the public in terms of information dissemination,” Tolentino said.

MMDA RTV aired over 1206 kilohertz on AM radio and on Channel 4 on Destiny Cable. It gave round-the-clock traffic updates, important public announcements, and featured the seventeen local government units of Metro Manila.

It was created in 2008 under the administration of former Chairman Bayani Fernando to provide timely information and service to the public and bring the agency closer to the public by featuring its various projects and programs.

Tolentino said the move is in line with President Aquino’s call for austerity in government. “This is in the best interest of the public and towards the economical pursuit of our mandate. There are more necessary projects that would yield invaluable results for which we could spend the money,” Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief stressed that alternatives are available through the Internet which the agency could utilize for its information dissemination drive at no extra cost.

The agency is planning a tie-up with government television network NBN-4.

The MMDA maintains accounts on various social networking sites such as Twitter (http://twitter.com/MMDA) and Facebook (http:/j.mp/MMDAFB). It uploads videos on the MMDA News Channel on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/user/MMDANews). It also has an interconnection with the website of the Office of the President (http://www.gov.ph).

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AUGUST 16, 2010

MMDA Intensifies Operations to Combat Flooding in Metro Manila

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is eyeing the construction of a flood diversion channel in Makati City that will be large enough to accommodate floodwaters during heavy downpour.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said this is one of the options they are looking into to mitigate the flooding in Makati and its neighbors.

During the start of the 10-day intensified dredging and cleaning operations of eight major esteros in Metro Manila this morning, Tolentino said the major cause of flooding is the indiscriminate dumping of garbage in the waterways.

“What we need is cooperation from the local government units so we can at least minimize the effect of flooding. Simple things as not throwing our waste indiscriminately will be a big help,” Tolentino said.

“MMDA is in the process of studying the possibility of building the Makati Diversion Channel. It will be more than a kilometer in length which will traverse through Tripa de Galina estero in Pasay City,” according to Tolentino.

Likewise, all the diversion box culverts will also be inspected along with the drainage systems as part of the ongoing clearing operations.

A feasibility study is also one of the plans of the MMDA to determine the actual size of the present drainage systems in the metropolis.

Tolentino added that he has also directed Assistant General Manager for planning and operations Corazon Cruz to review the existing MMDA ordinance on anti-littering.

The chairman said that he has instructed AGM Cruz to study the ordinance so it can be enforced in the coming days.

Cruz said that for a time the anti-littering law seemed to have been forgotten. In the past, the violators are being apprehended and issued a ticket and if they did not redeem it they could not get a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Tolentino said various possible solutions are being studied by the MMDA to solve the flooding problem of Metro Manila including the issue of the thousands of informal settlers living along the so-called danger zones.

Engineer Baltazar Melgar, director of flood control management office, said there are 70,000 people living along the waterways alone. And the overall number of informal settlers continues to grow in Metro Manila, with at least 517,175 families identified in 13 local government units for the past year.

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AUGUST 13, 2010

NEWS BULLETIN : Kris Aquino’s Driver Cited for Illegal Parking and Other Charges

1. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority today clarified that contrary to earlier reports, Kris Aquino’s driver was apprehended and cited for illegal parking and obstructing traffic this morning when MMDA traffic enforcers chanced upon the presidential sister’s van illegally parked on Sgt. Esguerra St. near the ABS-CBN building in Quezon City.

2. The MMDA’s Traffic and Transport Management Office (TTMO) issued the clarification following some media reports that Kris’ van was spared from apprehension and that the agency’s enforcers trained their sight instead on the other vehicles parked alongside with Aquino’s van in the area.

3. “It is absolutely false that we let go of Kris’ driver for his traffic infraction,” TTMO officer-in-charge Noemi Recio said.

4. Fines for the said violations are as follows: Illegal parking - PhP200.00 and PhP150.00 for obstruction of traffic.

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AUGUST 12, 2010

Impounded PUV's To Be Released Immediately After Payment Of All Fines

All impounded public utility vehicles (PUVs) due to multiple unsettled violations shall be released immediately after payment of all fines, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Memorandum Circular Numbers 06 and 07 issued by MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino specified a set of implementing guidelines on the release of the impounded PUVs which were recently apprehended in line with the agency’s anti-colorum drive.

According to the memorandum, all impounded vehicles solely due to multiple violations of the driver shall be released at once, while those with multiple violations of the driver and operator shall be released after payment of all fines or after tagging with a red sticker bearing “Released Pending Adjudication”.

Drivers and / or operators of PUVs that are subject to adjudication are required to sign and submit a duly notarized Affidavit of Undertaking to the MMDA Traffic Adjudication Division (MMDA-TAD), along with copies of competent evidence of identity, within fifteen days from the release of the impounded vehicle.

“We are trying to speed up the release of the impounded vehicles in order to decongest our impounding areas which are already full after only a week of intensified operations,” Tolentino said.

The license plates of the apprehended vehicles shall be confiscated and will only be released upon reconsideration of the traffic citation, or when the suspension / confiscation has been lifted or served.

However, the agency is more lenient to first time violators, as the confiscation of their license plates and/or driver’s licenses will be lifted after verification from the MMDA’s Traffic Violation Receipt – Data Management Unit and payment of the corresponding fines.

Meanwhile, colorum and out-of-line PUVs and those with forged documents shall also comply with the same conditions of the memorandum and will pay additional for the corresponding accessory penalty of impoundment.

The MMDA chief urged the transport sector to cooperate with the agency in order to facilitate a smooth flow of operations.

“The drivers and operators should all strictly follow the laws to avoid any inconvenience,” Tolentino stressed.

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AUGUST 11, 2010

Updated Rules On UVVRP Being Implemented By The Seventeen LGUs

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has received numerous daily inquiries from the public regarding the implementation of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the number coding scheme.

Resulting from the recent cancellation of several exemptions to the number coding scheme through the recently issued Memorandum Circular Number 4, the agency’s Twitter account (http://twitter.com/MMDA), as well as MMDA Hotline 136, have been flooded with questions and clarifications on the matter.

The UVVRP took effect on June 1996 as per MMDA Regulation Number 96-005 duly approved by the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the policy-making body of the MMDA, which is composed of the mayors of the seventeen local government units (LGUs) comprising Metro Manila.

The scheme was designed to curb the high volume of vehicles plying the national, city, and municipal roads within the metropolis, specifically during peak hours.

Under the regulation, all motor vehicles, both private and public, shall be prohibited from operating within Metro Manila during the corresponding days of the week, depending on the last digit of their license plates, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., with observance of window hours for private vehicles from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

However, there were some modifications to the scheme during the years through various city / municipal resolutions and ordinances, depending on the respective LGUs.

Listed below are the most updated rules on UVVRP being implemented by the seventeen LGUs:

· Number coding is in effect from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., without window hours in Makati, Malabon, and Las Piñas.

· Marikina, Muntinlupa, Taguig, and Parañaque do not implement the number coding.

· Pasig City implements the number coding and observes window hours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

· The number coding scheme is in effect in Caloocan, Mandaluyong, Manila, Navotas, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan, and Valenzuela. The window hours of 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is observed.

· Pasay City is implementing the UVVRP except on the following roads: Ninoy Aquino Avenue, MIA Road, Domestic Road, Airport Road, Sales Road, and portions of Buendia.

· Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), Circumferential Road 5 (C5), Diosdado Macapagal Avenue, and Roxas Boulevard all have window hours regardless of the city.

MMDA also reminds the public that the number coding is not implemented on weekends and is normally suspended during the observance of national and special holidays.

The full text of Memorandum Circular Number 4 may be viewed online at http://www.mmda.gov.ph/MEMOCIRCULAR04.htm

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AUGUST 10, 2010

MRT 7 Project - Main Agenda On August 6, 2010 Organizational Meeting

The MMDA Regional Development Council – National Capital Region (RDC-NCR) held its organizational meeting last August 6, 2010 at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Office in Makati City.

MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino presided over the meeting. He stressed that the RDC-NCR should approve the MRT 7 Project before it is endorsed to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board for review and approval. This is because the RDC-NCR is comprised of those local government units affected by the MRT 7 project.

The new transit line will begin in Quezon City and end at Valenzuela City.

Mayor Herbert Bautista of Quezon City suggested that the MRT7 terminals should have access to other means of transportation such as tricycles and jeepneys, for the convenience of the riding public.

Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City suggested that the local government units (LGUs) concerned should be consulted on the location of the terminals.

Dir. Thelsa Biolena of the Department of Social Welfare and Development also suggested that there should be coordination with the families affected by the project, and for the concerned LGUs to provide on-site resettlement for the affected families.

Chairman Tolentino suggested that a social impact statement should be prepared by the project proponents so that displaced families could be given the needed assistance.

A follow-up meeting to be chaired by Gatchalian will be held on Friday, 13 August 2010 to further review the proposed project.

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AUGUST 10, 2010

MMDA Plans To Convert MMDA Hotel Into An Academy

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is planning to convert the MMDA Hotel located at Jose Abad Santos Avenue in Tondo, Manila into an academy that will enhance and polish the skills of MMDA employees.

Otherwise known as the PGMA Workers’ Inn 2, the Hotel was renovated by MMDA in 2008, with a total of 717 capsule beds that can accommodate 1,434 guests in two shifts per day.

Since the hotel has been experiencing a low turnout of clients, it will be converted into a finishing academy that would house a section devoted to driver education, another floor for the enhancement of MMDA traffic enforcers’ skills and the third floor as a school for strategic urban transport.

The school for urban transport will be open to educational institutions that offer courses in urban planning and development, such as the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

“The MMDA is embarking on a new era of service to Metro Manila. The MMDA Academy would hopefully institutionalize and help achieve that objective,” said MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino. “We want the MMDA acronym to stand for “Marangal, Matapat, at Disiplinado Ako.”

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AUGUST 10, 2010

Sec. Francis Tolentino To Participate In The 9th Plenary Meeting of The Asian Network of Major Cities 21 in Japan

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has invited Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino to participate in the 9th plenary meeting of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21) in Japan this November.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said it would be an honor to work closely with Tolentino, an environmental lawyer and three-term mayor of Tagaytay City.

“I look forward to welcoming you to the 9th ANMC21 plenary meeting to be held this November 7 to 10 in Tokyo and discussing matters of common concern,” the Tokyo governor said in his letter to Tolentino.

Ishihara also congratulated Tolentino on his appointment as chairman of the MMDA, whom he believes could greatly contribute to the prosperity of Metropolitan Manila and the Philippines.

“At this meeting, it would give us great pleasure to contribute to your city’s development by introducing to you Tokyo’s technologies, know-how, and new initiatives taken in areas such as environment and urban infrastructure, including waterworks, which was of great interest to your president,” he told Tolentino.

Ishihara was one of the Asian leaders who advocated on August 2000 for the establishment of ANMC21, an international network of Asian capital and major cities which undertake joint projects regarding crisis management, environmental counter-measures and industrial development.

The organization currently has 11 member-cities- Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Metropolitan Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, and Yangon.

Tolentino is expected to be among the Asian governors and mayors who will participate in the annual ANMC21 plenary meeting, which decides important administrative issues, hears reports on the progress or outcome of joint projects, conducts discussions on the theme of member-cities’ policies, and presents reports on issues of special consideration.

Each meeting is concluded with the adoption of a joint declaration.

In addition to the plenary meeting, ANMC21 also gathers administrative officials of member-cities to convene a “working-level meeting” to examine practical issues on the network administration.

Tolentino said he is looking forward to participating in the event.

“We have a lot to learn not only from the metropolitan government of Tokyo but also from our other counterparts in the Asian region, which, hopefully, we can adopt here in Metro Manila,” the MMDA chief said.

He said the 9th ANMC21 plenary meeting is an important opportunity for Metropolitan Manila to forge closer ties and cooperation with its Asian neighbors, especially on vital issues such as environmental conservation and disaster prevention and management.

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AUGUST 5, 2010

Sec. Francis Tolentino To Lead The RDC-NCR Organizational Meeting Today

The Regional Development Council-National Capital Region (RDC-NCR) will reconvene at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today (Aug. 6) to discuss, among others, the proposed Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 extension project of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, as chairman and presiding officer of the Metro Manila Council (MMC), which is the policy-making body of the agency, will lead the RDC-NCR organizational meeting at 2 pm today at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City.

Tolentino said he is looking forward to the RDC meeting since it will tackle two important projects laid out by the government - the MRT 7 project and the Valenzuela, Obando, Meycauayan (VOM) Flood Control Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Tolentino, as the new head of the MMDA, will also be briefed by MMDA Assistant General Manager for Planning and Operations Corazon Bautista-Cruz about the functions and compositions of the RDC-NCR.

Bautista-Cruz also serves as the RDC secretary for NCR.

“There are a lot of important projects that will be discussed. Hopefully we will be able to come up with more development programs and projects that will greatly benefit Metro Manila residents,” Tolentino said.

Metro Manila mayors, who composed the MMC, are expected to attend the first ever organizational meeting of the RDC-NCR since President Aquino assumed office this June.

Expected to attend the occasion are Metro mayors and local chief executives led by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Benjamin Abalos Jr. of Mandaluyong City, Mayor Jaime Medina of Pateros, Mayor Guia Gomez of San Juan and Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City.

Also participating in the meeting are undersecretaries, directors and representatives from various sectors such as environment development, economic development, finance and admin development, social development and infrastructure development sectors, and city administrators and planning officers.

Executive Order No. 325, Series of 1996 formally reorganized the RDCs in various regions of the country. President Arroyo then subsequently operationalized the MMC as the RDC for Metro Manila through Executive Order No. 113, Series of 2002.

RDCs are tasked to coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of medium and long-term regional development plans and investment programs, regional physical framework plan and special development plans in their respective regions.

RDC-NCR is composed of the 17 mayors in Metro Manila as voting members and the secretaries and heads of national government line agencies in Metro Manila region and sectoral committees, among others.

Tolentino said he is particularly interested in the MRT 7 and VOM projects since traffic and flood control are two of his main priorities at the moment.

“We are in the midst of furthering improving traffic flow in Metro Manila and this MRT extension project is a most welcome relief to our motorists and commuters. Our flood control capabilities are also in need of improvement, especially this present rainy season,” the MMDA chief said.

The US $1.2 billion MRT 7 proposal is a combined 45-km of road and rail transportation project from Bocaue exit of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to MRT3 at North Avenue-EDSA.

The 22-km, six-lane asphalt road will connect the NLEX to the major transportation hub development in Tala, San Jose del Monte. The 23-km mostly elevated MRT starts from Tala and ends at the integrated MRT 3/MRT 7 station at EDSA.

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AUGUST 5, 2010

196 Passenger Buses And AUV's Apprehended Along EDSA As Part Of The agency's Anti-colorum Operation

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) intensified anti-colorum operations since last Tuesday netted more than 196 passenger buses and Asian Utility Vehicles (AUVs) along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa).

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino ordered the impounding of the apprehended public utility vehicles (PUVs) as a stern warning to colorum operators and PUVs which habitually commit out-of-line violations.

“To realize our goal of improving traffic flow in our major thoroughfares, we must be very strict in the enforcement of our traffic rules and regulations. There will be no exemptions, there will be no special treatment. Everyone must obey the law,” he said.

Roberto Esquivel, Traffic and Transport Management Office (TTMO) consultant, said they have netted a total of 117 colorum and out-of-line buses, taxicabs, and AUVs during a crackdown on Edsa that started at 8:30 a.m last Tuesday. As of last Wednesday 79 more vehicles were apprehended.

The drivers of the apprehended PUVs were issued traffic violation receipts while their vehicles were immediately brought to Ultra I and II impounding facilities in Pasig City.

As to the drive against number coding violators, Esquivel said they will start issuing citation tickets to offending motorists starting Monday.

“We continue to give them warnings, especially to those who still have number coding exemptions. But starting Monday, there will be no more excuses,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tolentino asked the public to cooperate with the MMDA’s renewed crackdown.

“I apologize to the commuters for the inconvenience we may cause them, especially when we flag down the PUVs they were riding in. This is necessary. If we don’t get rid of these colorum public utility vehicles, our objective to decongest our major roads will be deemed useless,” the MMDA chief said.

At least 6,000 buses pass through Edsa and other major roads every day, a considerable number of which are colorum or have no legal franchise to operate.

Tolentino said reducing the number of buses in the roads would be a big help in decongesting traffic in Metro Manila.

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JULY 30, 2010

MMDA Will Revoke All Exemptions On Number COding Scheme Effective Monday

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will revoke all exemptions to the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or number coding scheme effective Monday.

Memorandum Circular Number 04, which enumerates a revised guideline on the issuance of the UVVRP, was issued and signed by Chairman Francis Tolentino late yesterday afternoon.

The cancellation of the exemptions is one of the agency’s responses to address the perennial traffic problem in the metropolis.

“The issuance of exemption is a privilege granted by the agency and can therefore be revoked anytime,” Tolentino said.

The agency has so far issued around 8,900 exemptions for the third quarter, from July 1 to September 30. Seventy five percent of the total figure or 6,393 were found to have been issued to government officials and employees for their private vehicles.

According to Tolentino, the cancellation of the number coding exemption is in accordance with President Benigno Aquino III’s call of equality for everyone.

As per the memorandum, the following are considered automatically exempted from the UVVRP: cargo trucks, ambulance, fire trucks, police patrol cars, military vehicles, diplomatic vehicles with diplomatic plates, government vehicles with government plates or appropriate markings or stickers from the Land Transportation Office, duly enfranchised school buses, company shuttle service vehicles, official media vehicles with markings, duly accredited tow trucks, vehicles delivering perishable goods, and vehicles used by medical practitioners, among others.

Exemption certificates which were previously issued but are no longer covered by exemptions enumerated on the circular are deemed canceled.

However, the MMDA chairman may grant additional temporary exemptions which are in accordance with existing regulations and based on highly exceptional circumstances.

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JULY 30, 2010

MMDA To Finally Launch It's Twitter Account

To foster faster exchange of information with the public, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will formally launch on Monday its Twitter account, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino announced today.

Tolentino said the MMDA’s Twitter account- http://twitter.com/MMDA will initially entertain traffic inquiries and will respond to other matters such as flooding situations as soon as further improvements are made.

“Twitter is a good medium to directly communicate with the public. We intend to make full use of social networking and microblogging to deliver prompt and up-to-date traffic information to whoever needs it and at the same time receive feedback that are important to us in improving our services,” Tolentino said.

The MMDA’s Twitter services will initially be manned from 6 am to 10 pm from Mondays to Fridays, the MMDA chief said.

Tolentino said the use of Twitter is a giant technological leap for the MMDA, whose means of communication with the public relies heavily on Metrobase, its 24-hour traffic and communications center, and its own radio and cable TV channel.

Yves Gonzalez, spokesperson of the MMDA, said their Twitter account underwent two-day public testing and proved successful in interacting with the public, particularly Twitter users.

He said they have initially trained two three-man teams which will work in two shifts, 6 am to 2 pm and 2 pm to 10 pm, to man the MMDA Twitter service round-the-clock.

“So far, the public has responded warmly. Even Undersecretary Manolo Quezon sent tweets promoting our Twitter account,” Gonzalez said, referring to columnist Manuel Quezon III, who is part of President Aquino’s Communications Group.

Gonzalez said the MMDA Twitter account will send periodic traffic updates concerning road closures, obstructions, traffic re-rerouting, and other important traffic-related developments.

“Through Twitter, we can help motorists and commuters plan their trips early by getting first-hand information on traffic condition in certain areas,” he added.

He said the MMDA will also open its Facebook account soon to improve the MMDA’s accessibility to the public.

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JULY 27, 2010

Former Tagaytay Mayor Francis Tolentino, New MMDA Chairman.

Newly-appointed Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino formally took over the reins of the agency and vowed a more vibrant and accessible organization through civil will.

Tolentino, a former mayor of Tagaytay City, pledged to continue all the successes of the agency’s previous administrations and bring forth changes through a new dynamics that will involve active public participation.

“I have accepted the position with great hope of attaining a better quality of life in Metro Manila and making MMDA a model agency,” Tolentino said during today’s simple turnover rites held at the MMDA office in Makati City.

According to Tolentino, the mantra of his administration will be discipline with compassion, reiterating that human rights will not be compromised with the implementation of the agency’s various thrusts.

“All sectors and stakeholders will be consulted as we are hoping for civil acceptance on all aspects of our operations,” Tolentino said.

The new MMDA chief said he is planning to put up an interactive communications system and to make use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, to make the agency more accessible to the public, foster public involvement in the agency’s day-to-day operations, and disseminate information quickly and effectively.

Tolentino said he will initially concentrate on Metro Manila’s traffic problems and will review existing methods and systems and hinted at the possible re-implementation of the number coding scheme for public buses and limiting the number coding exemption.

On the issue of sidewalk vendors, Tolentino balked at the use of force and coercion and pledged a more humane way of dealing with them.

He assured the rank-and-file employees of the agency that there will be no major movement of personnel and that everybody will be treated justly.

“I am asking everybody for a little breathing space as there will be missteps during the first few days. But rest assure that I will be doing my best and putting my heart into improving the lives of the residents of Metro Manila,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino was elected as mayor of Tagaytay City for three consecutive terms from 1995 to 2004 and served as president of the League of Cities of the Philippines from 2001 to 2004, and was awarded as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines several times by various organizations.

He passed the Philippine Bar Exams on 1984 and the New York Bar Exams on 1991 and is currently working on his dissertation to obtain his Doctorate for Juridical Science (International Environmental Law) from the Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, United States of America.

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