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DECEMBER 31, 2012

MMDA To Field Fire Trucks on New Year's Eve

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will deploy its fleet of fire trucks in New Year's Eve to help contain fires caused by deliberate torching of tires in the streets.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency's fire trucks will work alongside the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in responding to tire-burning activities.

"We know BFP will have its hands full in monitoring Metro Manila during the New Year's Eve revelries. Our fire trucks and trained personnel will be on 24-hour alert," Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief earlier appealed to the public to refrain from burning tires in the street as this bad practice brings more harm not only to the environment but also to people's health.

Burning tires also damage road surfaces, especially asphalt, Tolentino added.

"In case of fire incidents such as what happened in San Juan and Quezon City on Christmas Day, our fire trucks will be in hand to assist BFP," he said.

Aside from its fire trucks, the agency's Rescue Unit and Road Emergency Group will also be placed on alert to respond to all types of emergencies during the New Year's Eve celebrations, Tolentino said.

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DECEMBER 30, 2012

MMFF to Help Repair Damaged Schools in Pablo-hit Towns in Mindanao

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will help repair and rehabilitate damaged schools in areas devastated by Typhoon Pablo.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, who also sits as overall chairman of the MMFF, said the festival's executive committee has agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds to New Bataan, Compostela Valley, and Cateel, Davao Oriental.

"Children are the most affected by this calamity. They not only lost their homes, many their loved ones, and now their education and future are at risk because their schools were either damaged or totally destroyed," Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief said producers and casts of the eight entries to the 38th MMFF were more than willing to reach out to the thousands of residents displaced by Pablo.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the damage brought by the typhoon has reached P36 billion.

Damage to infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, government offices, and public schools was estimated at P7.5 billion, P26.5 billion in agriculture, and P2.8 billion in private properties.

The death toll remained at 1,067, with 2,666 injured and 834 still missing.

The super typhoon had affected 711,682 families or 6,243,998 people in 3,064 villages in 318 towns and 40 cities in 34 provinces. Of the affected victims, 3,011 families or 13,940 people are staying in 87 evacuation centers.

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DECEMBER 29, 2012

MMDA Chairman Commends 'Pablo' Rescue Teams

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino commended the three rescue teams that helped in the rescue, retrieval, and rehabilitation operations in New Bataan, Compostela Valley and Cateel, Davao Oriental after they were severely hit by typhoon 'Pablo' early this month.

Tolentino awarded the members of the rescue teams with a plaque of commendation during the Christmas party of the agency's Road Emergency Group and Public Safety Office held last December 23.

"These people are all worthy of our praises and gratitude. They assisted the citizens of New Bataan and Cateel without any reservation or condition," Tolentino said.

The three teams were deployed by Tolentino immediately after 'Pablo' devastated several parts of Mindanao, with Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental as the hardest-hit. They helped in the inter-agency rescue and retrieval operations, bringing with them various rescue equipment and water-treatment machine.

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DECEMBER 21, 2012

Edsa-Estrella Flyover Opened to Two-Way Traffic

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today opened the Edsa-Estrella flyover in Makati City to two-way traffic to ease the perennial congestion on the Edsa southbound traffic going to Buendia Avenue, especially during this Christmas season.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Estrella flyover is now open to two-way traffic flow from 7 am to 10 am from Monday to Friday. This new traffic scheme is implemented in cooperation with Rockwell Land Corp., which runs the Rockwell Center.

"We started the dry run this morning and hopefully we can at least reduce the daily chokepoint at the southbound lane of Edsa, especially on the portion approaching the Buendia U-turn slot," Tolentino said.

Completed in 1998, the two-lane, single-direction Estrella flyover provides direct access to Rockwell Center for Edsa northbound, thus enabling motorists coming from the Global City of Fort Bonifacio and the Central Business District of Makati to conveniently proceed to Rockwell via Edsa.

At present, Tolentino pointed out that that 25 percent of vehicular volume at Edsa-Kalayaan to Buendia during rush hours is from the right-turning traffic in Estrella Street. Part of the congestion is attributed to the opening this year of the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge that connects Mandaluyong to Rockwell in Makati.

"Right turning traffic from Estrella to Edsa creates daily chokepoint at Edsa southbound, especially from those swerving from Estrella to take the innermost 5th lane towards the Buendia U-turn slot," Tolentino explained.

He said the two-way scheme will improve traffic flow in Estrella and Edsa southbound, particularly at the southbound yellow lane for buses.

The MMDA chief said traffic flow usually slows down in the area as vehicles at the Edsa southbound lane reduce speed to avoid vehicles coming from Estrella.

With the two-way scheme, Tolentino said they have eliminated the stop-and-go traffic at the corner of Edsa and Estrella, as Edsa-bound vehicles coming from Estrella get to use the flyover towards Kalayaan and Buendia.

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DECEMBER 19, 2012

MMDA Introduces "Portable" Rotundas

In its continuing bid to reduce traffic accidents, particularly in road intersections, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will introduce to the public a portable rotunda that can be easily detached and assembled in areas where it is most needed.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the introduction of the portable rotunda is the agency's way of inculcating to the public its importance in Metro Manila's busiest thoroughfares and intersections.

"We have very few existing rotundas nowadays because of the emergence of modern signalized intersections. We hope that by this portable rotunda, we can bring back to the mind of the people that rotundas are the simplest but one of the best ways to reduce accidents," the MMDA chief said.

Mostly made up of wood, the makeshift rotunda is designed to be unfastened, transported, and reassembled in various intersections of Metro Manila. This innovative project will be formally launched tomorrow at Edsa-Ayala Avenue intersection.

Tolentino said initially, the prototype rotunda will be used in Edsa-Ayala, NAIA area, and Roxas Boulevard.

As compared to accident-prone intersections, Tolentino stressed that rotundas or roundabouts require the drivers to adjust their speed, scan for openings and negotiate the merge, thereby increasing awareness of the road, especially during this Christmas season.

"No driver would blindly charge at a roundabout at full speed," he said.

Citing a study made in the US in 2011, Tolentino said 23 intersections in the United States reported that converting intersections from traffic signals or stop signs to roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 80 percent and all crashes by 40 percent.

"Installing roundabouts in place of traffic signals reduce the likelihood of rear-end crashes and their severity by removing the incentive for drivers to speed up as they approach green lights and by reducing abrupt stops at red lights," he further explained.

Average speed in most roundabouts is half that of conventional intersections, increasing safety for surrounding pedestrians, Tolentino added.

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DECEMBER 17, 2012

EDSA Bus Segregation Scheme Starts Tomorrow

The bus segregation scheme in Edsa will be implemented starting tomorrow, December 18.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino said the new bus dispatch system will cover all 3,100 buses plying Edsa.

"We have given bus operators sufficient time to have their bus units tagged, so buses that have not been tagged, or those that have no stickers, will not be allowed on Edsa starting tomorrow," the MMDA chief warned.

The bus segregation scheme will be enforced along the stretch of Edsa from Magallanes Interchange to East Avenue intersection and vice versa.

Under the program, buses that ply Edsa have been tagged as Bus A, B, or C to minimize traffic congestion along the thoroughfare, particularly in loading and unloading areas.

Buses A and B can only use their designated A and B bus stops respectively. "C" buses on the other hand, will be allowed to use all bus stops.

Bus A will stop at the following loading / unloading bays; Northbound: Magallanes, Buendia, Guadalupe, Shaw Blvd., SM Megamall, Boni Serrano, Cubao Farmers, and Ermin Garcia. Southbound: Ermin Garcia, Arayat Cubao, VV Soliven, Connecticut, Shaw Starmall, Guadalupe, Buendia Ave., and Mantrade. The bus A stops have been painted red.

Bus B will stop at the following; Northbound: Ayala Ave., Estrella, Pioneer / Boni, SM Megamall, Ortigas Ave., Main Ave., and Baliwag / 5 Star. Southbound: Kamuning, Monte de Piedad, Main Ave., POEA Ortigas, Pioneer / Boni, Estrella, and Ayala Ave. These stops are painted blue.

According to Tolentino, southbound buses which are marked "A" are allowed to take the Kamuning-Timog, Santolan, and Ortigas flyovers. Northbound buses which are marked "B" shall be allowed at the Santolan flyover, while those marked "A" can use Ortigas and Timog-Kamuning flyover.

"We are optimistic that this enhanced bus segregation system will decongest Edsa significantly," Tolentino said.

MMDA dispatchers have already been instructed not to allow bus units without stickers to leave the four Organized Bus Route (OBR) terminals.

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DECEMBER 14, 2012

MMDA to Donate Confiscated Billboards and Tarpaulins to Victims of 'Pablo'

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is sending a truckload of confiscated billboards and tarpaulins to typhoon-devastated towns of New Bataan, Compostela Valley and Cateel, Davao Oriental which can be used as improvised tents by the thousands of victims displaced by the disaster.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the billboards and tarpaulins to be donated are those dismantled and confiscated by the agency at the height of its Baklas Billboard operations against non-compliant advertising collaterals.

The seized tarpaulins, numbering almost 100, are big-sized and can be used as roofing materials for improvised shelters, according to Tolentino.

"These tarpaulins are rotting in our warehouses so we have decided to put it to good use by sending it to typhoon-devastated towns in Mindanao," the MMDA chief said.

At least 19,212 families have remained in evacuation centers after losing their homes in the floods brought by "Pablo". A total of 902 people have died while 635 have remained missing in the devastation brought by the typhoon.

Tolentino visited New Bataan in Compostela Valley on Wednesday to personally observe the search and retrieval operations being conducted by various agencies.

The MMDA sent its own team of rescuers to New Bataan and Cateel, Davao Oriental to help in the continuing efforts to retrieve the bodies of hundreds of still missing residents.

"Many residents have lost their homes and the evacuation centers are already maximized. We have to send all the help we can to these people so they can recover the soonest possible time," Tolentino said.

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DECEMBER 11, 2012

MMDA Opens New Christmas Lanes

Anticipating an increase in traffic volume this Christmas season, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has identified 12 alternate routes or the so-called Christmas Lanes that motorists could use to avoid traffic jams in major roads.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino is encouraging the public to use these new Christmas Lanes, which will be formally opened tomorrow (Dec. 12) at the Edsa-West Avenue intersection in Quezon City at 7 am.

Tolentino said these new routes lead to and from shopping centers in Makati City, Pasay, Quezon City, San Juan, Manila, and Marikina, where traffic volume is usually heavy during the month of December.

"We're hoping that these Christmas Lanes will help motorists plan their trips well and avoid traffic congestion," the MMDA chief said.

The following are the new Christmas Lanes:

  • From Greenhills to Rockwell: Take Wilson Street, left at P. Guevarra, Luna Mencias, right at Araullo, left at Balagtas, right at Shaw Blvd., left at Acacia Lane, left at Fabella Road, right at M. Martinez Ave., Maysilo, right at Sgt. Bumatay, take Pantaleon Bridge to Rockwell.
  • From SM North Edsa to Greenhills: take West Ave., left at Examiner, right at Quezon Ave., take u-turn slot near Magbanua, take Scout Borromeo, right at Tomas Morato Ave., right at E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., left at Gilmore Ave., Granada, Ortigas Ave. to Greenhills.
  • From SM San Lazaro to SM Mall of Asia: take A.H. Lacson, Nagtahan, Pres. Quirino Ave., left at M. Adriatico Ave., Vito Cruz, straight to Park Ave., right to Buendia Ave., left to Macapagal Blvd. to Mall of Asia and vice-versa.
  • From SM North Edsa to Araneta Center: along North Ave., right to Elliptical Road, right at Kalayaan, K-J Street, 15th Street, right at Aurora Blvd. to Araneta Center and vice-versa.
  • From Dapitan Market to Divisoria: take Dapitan St., right at A.H. Lacson, left at Tayuman, left to Dagupan to Divisoria.
  • From Baclaran to Divisoria: take Roxas Blvd., Anda Circle, right to A. Soriano Jr., Muralla, left to Magallanes Drive, left at Q. Paredes, Reina Regente to Divisoria Mall and vice-versa.
  • From SM Sta. Mesa to SM North EDSA: along Araneta Ave., right to Del Monte, left at Roosevelt, right at Baler, left at Miller Ave., right at Calumpit, left at Bansalangin, right at EDSA to SM North EDSA and vice-versa.
  • From SM Manila to Greenhills: take San Marcelino, left at U.N. Ave., right at Pres. Quirino, right at Figueroa, left at Pedro Gil, New Panaderos, right at Shaw Blvd., left at A. Mabini, right at Wilson to Ortigas Greenhills.
  • From Trinoma to SM Marikina: along North Ave., QMC, right at Kalayaan Ave., left at V. Luna, right at Anonas, left at Chico, Xavierville Ave., right at Katipunan, u-turn at Aurora Blvd., Marcos Highway to SM Marikina and vice-versa.
  • From Eastwood to Ortigas Center: take E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., right to Green Meadows, right at Ortigas Ave., left at Lanuza, right to Doña J. Vargas to Ortigas Center and vice-versa.
  • From Ortigas Center to Makati Business District: take ADB Ave., San Miguel Ave., left at Shaw Blvd., right at Pioneer, right at Reliance, left at Sheridan, right at Pioneer, pass Boni tunnel to Maysilo, right at San Francisco, left at Coronado, take Mandaluyong Bridge to Makati Business District and vice-versa.
  • From Harrison to Rockwell: take P. Ocampo, right at Arellano Ave., left at Zobel Roxas, right at Kamagong, left at Chino Roces Ave., right at Kalayaan Ave. to Rockwell.

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DECEMBER 11, 2012

New Wave, student short films to open in theatres on December 18

Indie movies and student short films that made it in this year's Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will be finally shown in theatres starting December 18.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, who also sits as chairman of the annual film festival, said five entries to the New Wave Full Feature and 10 in Student Short Film Section of the MMFF 2012 will open at Glorietta Cinemas in Makati City from December 18 to 22.

These are "Ad Ignorantiam", "Gayak", "In Nomine Matris", "Paglaya sa Tanikala", and the "Grave Bandits".

To be shown alongside these Indie films are 10 short films produced by student filmmakers from various universities and colleges nationwide.

The 10 student entries are "Manibela" (Far Eastern University), "Pukpok" (DLSU), "Obsesyon" (Mowelfund Film Institute), "Rolyo" (Mowelfund Institute), "Tsansa" (Cebu Normal University), "Ritwal" University of San Carlos, Cebu), "Tagad" (University of San Carlos, Cebu), "Kinse" (Mowelfund Film Institute), "Sonata" (UP-Diliman), and "Lugaw" (Mowelfund Film Institute).

Tolentino is inviting the public to watch these movies, which he said will be a very good prelude to the mainstream entries in the MMFF that opens in cinemas on Christmas Day.

"These Indie movies and student films represent the very best and artistic talents of independent and student filmmakers in the country. Watching these cinematic creations is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime, and unforgettable movie experience this Christmas season," Tolentino said.

The MMFF's New Wave Section was Tolentino's brainchild in 2010 to enable independent film producers and aspiring student filmmakers to showcase their talents and be part of the prestigious annual film festival.

The New Wave entry to be named Best Picture in the MMFF Awards Night will receive P300,000 cash prize.

For Student Short Film Competition, a P50,000 prize will be given to the producer of the Best Picture, including Sony cameras, free-post production packages, a one-year paid internship under Viva Productions, and scholarship from Mowelfund.

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DECEMBER 7, 2012

MMDA Sends Third Team of Rescuers to Davao Oriental

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is sending another team to help in the search and retrieval operations in typhoon-devastated Cateel town in Davao Oriental.

The 15-man MMDA contingent is the third batch of rescuers the agency has sent to Mindanao to help in extensive efforts to aid the thousands of victims of flashfloods brought by Typhoon Pablo.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Cateel team is composed of members of Road Emergency Group, Public Safety Office, Baklas Billboard and Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group.

The team will first be sent to the capital town of Mati to coordinate with the local Office of the Civil Defense. They left for Davao Oriental this afternoon, Tolentino said.

"We want to field more personnel to worst-hit areas in Mindanao as much as we can so we could hasten rescue and relief operations there," Tolentino said.

The team is equipped with appropriate gears such as search cameras, chainsaws, and other hand tools needed for search and retrieval mission.

On Thursday, the MMDA sent two teams to Compostela Valley and a two-ton water purifier machine.

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DECEMBER 7, 2012

MMDA Implements Total Truck Ban Along EDSA

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) clarified this morning that there are no more window hours in the modified truck ban to be implemented in Edsa starting today.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino stressed that the truck ban in Edsa, from Magallanes Interchange to Trinoma, will be enforced 24 hours from Monday to Sunday.

Tolentino explained that the Edsa total truck ban is part of the modified truck ban scheme that has been approved for implementation by the Special Traffic Committee (STC) of the Metro Manila Council on December 3.

"We no longer have window hours for trucks passing through Edsa. Trucks with a gross weight of 4,500 kilograms and above are not allowed in any portion of Edsa 24 hours a day, seven days a week," the MMDA chief said.

Under the old truck ban policy of the MMDA, MMDA Resolution No. 0705, Series of 2007, trucks are allowed to pass through Edsa from 9 pm to 6 am.

On December 3, the STC, chaired by Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, approved the implementation of the modified truck ban in Metro Manila from December 7 to January 6, 2013.

Trucks carrying perishable goods such as agricultural products are still exempted from the modified truck ban.

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DECEMBER 6, 2012

MMDA Send Elite Rescue Teams to Mindanao

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today ordered the deployment of two elite rescue teams to Compostela Valley to assist the victims of flashfloods wrought by typhoon 'Pablo'.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the teams will help in the search, rescue, and retrieval operations in the areas severely affected by 'Pablo'.

"These personnel are capable and have been on similar operations before in Bulacan, Iligan and Cagayan De Oro last year," Tolentino said.

The teams are comprised of personnel from the agency's Road Emergency Group and Public Safety office, mostly trained rescue staff, nurses, and medical services assistants.

Aside from the rescue personnel, MMDA is also sending a 2-ton water purifier to address the urgent need for clean and potable water, special search cameras, medical kits, basic tools and rescue kits and implements, tents, and generator sets.

"MMDA is ready and willing to help anytime, anywhere. Our services are not limited to Metro Manila alone," Tolentino said.

In recent years, the MMDA has also sent agency personnel to various towns in Bulacan and several provinces in Mindanao, to assist local government units in rescue, relief, clearing, and cleanup operations after they were severely damaged by super typhoons. A similar rescue team was also dispatched to La Libertad, Negros Oriental in the aftermath of an earthquake.

Early last month, the MMDA launched a Rescue Battalion, a unit composed of personnel specially trained and equipped to respond to major disasters and calamities within Metro Manila and nearby provinces in a moment's notice.

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DECEMBER 4, 2012

MMDA Suspends Road Diggings for the Christmas Season

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is suspending all diggings and excavations in all Metro Manila road right-of-way effective midnight of December 10 until midnight of January 4, 2013, in anticipation of an increase in vehicular volume and pedestrian traffic for the Christmas season.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the temporary moratorium is in response to the public's call to improve the Christmas traffic situation caused by various road diggings and repairs.

In Memorandum Circular No. 12 dated December 4, 2012 disseminated to all concerned offices of the MMDA, including the regional offices and engineering districts of local government units (LGUs), utility companies and contractors, Tolentino ordered the suspension of any digging on the road right-of-way, including passageways and sidewalks within the city or municipality of Metro Manila, as well as improvements being undertaken by any government agency, public and private contractors that will obstruct the smooth flow of traffic, pursuant to pertinent provisions of an ordinance governing road diggings/excavations and restoration in Metro Manila or MMDA Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1991.

However, the moratorium does not apply to flagship projects of the government, emergency leak repairs or breakage of water lines of Manila Water and Maynilad.

The MMDA chief said violators of the said prohibition will be fined with 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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NOVEMBER 29, 2012

Three "Kotong" Enforcers Under Fire

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today ordered the immediate relief of three personnel from the agency's Traffic Discipline Office (TDO) allegedly involved in corrupt practices.

Traffic Constables Berganio, Abdul, and Romero (first names withheld) are facing summary dismissal from the service after they were caught by a Metrobase roving staff committing extortion at the Magallanes u-turn slot in Makati at 3:00 a.m. today.

After verification, it was found out that they were not on official duty and Magallanes was not their area of responsibility.

Berganio's shift is from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and assigned at EDSA segment 4, while Abdul and Romero are both from the anti-jaywalking unit belonging to the 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift.

The three employees were the same persons spotted by traffic constable Tristan Neneria on November 14 allegedly receiving bribes from two truck drivers at the same area.

"We will not tolerate this wrongdoing among our ranks," Tolentino said. "Let this serve as a warning to all our erring employees."

According to the MMDA chief, appropriate criminal charges will be filed subsequently against Berganio, Abdul, and Romero. "We will give them the right to defend themselves with lawyers of their own choice," Tolentino added.

Meanwhile, Tolentino also signed today a termination order for four TDO personnel found to have committed grave misconduct.

Two more traffic constables were also suspended for eight months and one day, also for grave misconduct.

Tolentino likewise ordered additional incentives and appropriate commendations to those performing beyond the call of duty, similar to the enforcer who apprehended a necklace snatcher last weekend.

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NOVEMBER 27, 2012

MMDA Launches Bicycle Lane in Marcos Highway

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino led the inauguration today of the agency's second bike lane along Marcos Highway in Marikina City.

Tolentino, along with Marikina Mayor Del De Guzman and Vice Mayor Jose Fabian Cadiz, other MMDA officials and cycling enthusiasts, rode the 4.58-kilometer bike lane that starts from Santolan station of LRT 2 up to Imelda Avenue.

"We wanted to extend the existing bike lanes in the inner roads of Marikina to Marcos Highway to further promote the healthy practice of using bicycles as every day means of transportation," Tolentino said.

The Marcos Highway bike lanes have been installed with traffic directional signs and safety devices to aid bike riders. It is the second bike lane introduced by the MMDA after the 1.75-kilometer bike lane in Remedios Circle in Malate, Manila.

Tolentino said another bike lane will be inaugurated along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City next week.

Plans are also being studied to put up a similar bike lane segment along EDSA, the MMDA chief added.

"These dedicated lanes are intended to ensure the safety of the bicycle riders who traverse Metro Manila's major roads," Tolentino said.

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NOVEMBER 26, 2012

MMDA Chairman Nabs Fake Traffic Enforcer

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino personally seized an enforcer for misrepresenting himself as an active personnel of the MMDA traffic force.

Identified as former traffic aide of MMDA, Edwin M. Vicentino was caught by the Chairman on Sunday evening at around 6:30 PM in Buendia flyover in Roxas Blvd. as he was on his way to attend a speaking engagement in Manila. Vicentino flagged down the Chairman's vehicle without any clear violation. "Mr. Vicentino has not been reporting for duty since November last year. He was officially dropped from the rolls as of May 1, 2012. What he did was both illegal and unethical," explained the Chairman.

Vicentino was wearing his MMDA enforcer uniform Type "B" and ID during the incident.

"MMDA is very strict regarding these matters and we do not tolerate such behavior from any of our enforcers or employees. Mr. Vicentino, by posing as a figure of authority with malice is tainting the name of our Agency," he added. MMDA will be filing a formal complaint against Vicentino on usurpation of authority.

Chairman Tolentino also warned the general public to be aware of enforcers who might try to take advantage of them especially this Christmas season. "Please do not hesitate to contact us if you run into any corrupt enforcers on the road. We have our MetroSolusyon website especially for that," informed Tolentino.

MMDA's MetroSolusyon website was designed to encourage citizen participation in the Agency's active campaign against corruption. Citizens can log in to to report complaints or incidents on any matter involving MMDA employees engaging in corrupt practices. Not only that, they can also report citizens caught bribing our MMDA employees, laud or commend a good deed of any MMDA enforcer, or even suggest concrete solutions to pressing problems in Metro Manila. "MetroSolusyon is our appeal to the public to be a part of the process of making Metro Manila a clean and corrupt-free metropolis," the Chairman said.

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NOVEMBER 13, 2012

MMDA to Launch Bicycle Lane, Children's Road Safety Park in Manila

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will launch the bicycle lane located at Remedios Circle in Manila on Thursday (November 15).

The bicycle lane, approximately 1.755 kilometers long, would be from Remedios Circle up to Paraiso ng Batang Maynila on M. Adriatico Street.

It is also in place from Quirino Avenue up to the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Roxas Boulevard which stretches about 550 meters.

"These dedicated lanes are intended to ensure the safety of the bicycle riders who traverse Metro Manila's major roads," Chairman Francis Tolentino said.

Similar bicycle lanes would also be created along Marcos Highway in Marikina City and Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

According to Tolentino, the creation of bicycle lanes along major thoroughfares is intended to promote the use of bicycle as an alternative mode of transportation.

"Apart from being environment-friendly, biking is also good for the health," Tolentino added.

Immediately following the launch of the bicycle lane is the inauguration of the Children's Road Safety Park located at Adriatico Street and Quirino Avenue, in front of the Manila Zoo.

The park would feature miniature road signs, pedestrian lanes, and footbridges.

"Through this park, we are inculcating the value of road safety and traffic discipline among the children," Tolentino said.

Expected to attend the event are the local chief executives of Metro Manila.

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NOVEMBER 13, 2012

MMDA Installs Vertical Gardens along Edsa

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has put up vertical greeneries or gardens under the flyovers and on tunnel walls along Edsa as part of its continuing effort to beautify Metro Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the greening project aims to address the urban aesthetics of the metropolis and raise environmental awareness among developers and urban designers.

"We want to revitalize Metro Manila's ecosystem against rapid urbanization and this planting of ornamental plants is a big help. We're hoping that urban designers and architects will incorporate environment conservation in their infrastructure projects," the MMDA chief said.

The greenery program involves the installation of vertical plant boxes along Edsa, particularly on the tunnel walls, where green ornamental plants will be planted and cultivated.

Tolentino said these vertical greeneries not only beautify the surroundings but also helps reduce air pollution.

The agency's Landscape Management Division has started the construction of vertical gardens at the underpasses of P. Tuason, Shaw Boulevard and Ayala. Plant boxes will also be put up on 900 lamp posts along Edsa.

Sidewalks and median islands will also undergo repair and improvement, according to Tolentino.

"This re-greening project will go beyond Edsa and will be replicated in other corridors," Tolentino added.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) has recently passed MMDA Resolution No. 11-01, Series of 2011 approving the implementation of the re-greening program for Metro Manila.

Environmental conservation is part of the MMDA's mandate. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) commended the agency for its greening program.

"Promoting a clean environment is one of our top priorities. We do not only direct traffic, we are also doing our share to conserve and protect the environment and maintain the healthy urbanization of Metro Manila," Tolentino said.

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NOVEMBER 8, 2012

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino Announces the Official Entries to MMFF's New Wave Category

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, concurrently the chairman of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee, today announced the festival's five (5) official entries to its New Wave Section for full feature independent films.

These are: Armando Lao's "Ad Ignorantiam," Ronaldo Bertubin's "Gayak," Will Fredo's "In Nomine Matris," Michael Angelo Dagñalan's "Paglaya sa Tanikala", and Tyrone Acierto's "The Grave Bandits."

A wide mix of genres, ranging from horror to dark humor to drama and dance sequences are infused to the five entries which deal with different subjects with different treatments of the human psyche.

A brief synopsis of the entries include Ad Ignorantiam shines a light on the impact of the Philippine justice system on an ordinary citizen, Gayak zeroes in on the relationship of a taylor with a secret while struggling to raise his son and his concept of "panata". Paglaya sa Tanikala, which stars the mainstream actor Matteo Guidicelli, is a modern take on a Saint's life, whereas In Nomine Matris fuses the Spanish flamenco dance into a young protégé's journey to be part of a dance company. Finally, The Grave Bandits is a horror, coming-of-age story of two thieving boys as they get trapped in an island of the undead.

"The films this year are all impressive and we are honored that these are part of this year's festival," Tolentino said.

The MMFF New Wave Section is on its 3rd year of giving recognition to independent films. It was in 2010 that the Section was born to serve as a platform for independent film producers to participate and showcase their talents.

"We, at the MMFFP strongly believe that the independent film movement has been and will continue to be a great source of fresh and new film visionaries in the Philippines. We look forward to the MMFF New Wave Festival being a big part of that," Tolentino added.

The five entries will be shown from December 18 to 22, 2012 at Glorietta Cinemas in Makati City. The screening will also include the 10 Student Short Film entries.

Up for grabs during the MMFF awards night is the Best Picture category where the winner will romp away with P300,000, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress winners will be awarded P 50, 000 each. The winner of the Best Picture will also receive a commercial screening in theaters next year.

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NOVEMBER 6, 2012

MMDA Forms Rescue Battalion to Respond to Major Disasters and Calamities

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has organized and trained a battalion-sized rescue unit that will significantly improve the agency's emergency and disaster response capabilities.

Dubbed as the "MMDA Rescue Battalion," the unit is composed of personnel specially trained and equipped to respond to major disasters and calamities within Metro Manila and nearby provinces in a moment's notice, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said.

"This Rescue Battalion has special equipment and training. They will be called upon to deploy, even in short notice, in critical areas where their skills are needed," Tolentino, who will personally command the newly organized unit, said.

The MMDA Rescue Battalion will be introduced to the public tomorrow, November 7, at the Quirino Grandstand. It will be the highlight of the 37th founding anniversary celebrations of the MMDA, which has a theme, "Kahandaan at Pagkakaisa, Kaligtasan ang Ibubunga."

Members of the rescue group have been handpicked from various MMDA units such as Metro Parkway Clearing Group (MPCG), Public Safety Division, Road Emergency Group, Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group (SCOG), Baklas Billboard, and Task Force Takipsilim.

Tolentino said each rescue operative went through rigid training on water search and rescue, debris clearing, emergency communication and transport, and relief and rehabilitation services, among others.

The battalion has its own amphibious truck and about 100 rubber boats on top of the heavy equipment and gears currently in the MMDA arsenal.

"We now essentially have a quick reaction force that we can activate, mobilize, and deploy in times of exigencies, 24/7, anywhere in Metro Manila and nearby provinces," Tolentino said.

Last year, the MMDA came up with Oplan Metro Yakal, an earthquake contingency plan that called for the extensive training of 4,000 MMDA employees and 1,000 volunteers in rescue and relief operations.

The contingency plan called for the deployment of MMDA employee-rescuers in pre-designated sectors during a major disaster such as an earthquake.

Each employee and volunteer underwent debris clearing, emergency communication and transport, traffic management and control, and relief and rehabilitation services.

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NOVEMBER 1, 2012

Court Affirms MMDA Bidding Procedure

A Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has denied for lack of merit the petition of a losing bidder in a traffic signal light project to temporary stop the awarding of the contract to another company.

In a four-page decision, Judge Carlito Calpatura of RTC Branch 145 denied the petition for temporary restraining order (TRO) of Abratique and Associates and First United Constructors Corp., the consortium that vied for the MMDA's P300-million traffic signal light project.

Judge Calpatura ruled that the consortium failed to show that its rights will be violated if the bidding procedures for the project push through.

It will be recalled that a losing bidder earlier filed a case against Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officials and asked the court to award the project to them.

"Their claim that their rights will be violated if no TRO is issued is farfetched because they have not even shown that they are entitled to the award of the project," the judge said.

Abratique executives filed their legal action after the MMDA declared a failure of bidding for the project.

The Makati court, however, noted that the petitioner did not present any evidence that "there is a great possibility that they may be qualified by reasons based on the other criteria. Hence, their claim of being qualified is at bests speculative," it said.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino welcomed the court's decision. He reiterated that the bidding procedures were aboveboard and transparent and complied with the provisions of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, with even the Imperial College of London acting as the special adviser of the MMDA for the traffic signalization upgrading.

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OCTOBER 30, 2012

MMDA Announces "No Number Coding for Provincial Buses on October 30 and 31"

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today announced the lifting of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the number coding scheme for authorized public utility provincial buses in the metropolis on October 30 and 31, in commemoration of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino took into consideration the expected huge increase in the number of commuters who will be travelling to the provinces by ensuring that there would be enough public utility buses to serve them.

The decision was also brought about by the ongoing major road and bridge repair works being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in various locations in the provinces of Quezon in Region 4-A and Nueva Vizcaya in Region 3, which are causing prolonged travel time of buses to and from Metro Manila.

Tolentino said that the suspension of the UVVRP for provincial buses is part of MMDA's contingency plans for the forthcoming "Undas".

However, the UVVRP shall continue to be implemented for private vehicles and other public utility vehicles.

"The public is assured that the MMDA shall strictly monitor and supervise traffic flow particularly in identified choke points to ensure the unhampered mobility of vehicles and pedestrians during Undas," Tolentino said.

Tolentino further requests the public to cooperate with MMDA and other government authorities to guarantee a solemn, meaningful, peaceful, and orderly commemoration of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

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OCTOBER 29, 2012

MMFF Gears Up for December

With the Holidays coming fast this year, the Metro Manila Film Festival is hard at work with all the arrangements for the MMFF 2012 which includes the Mainstream and the New Wave Section dedicated to independent and student films.

Serving as a prelude for the mainstream Festival, the MMFF New Wave Full Feature Section is already in motion with the deadline of submission of entries this October 25, 2012. "We have already received several entries from independent producers and the Selection Committee is already screening them. We are very optimistic with the turnout this year," said Ms. Digna Santiago who heads the Section. Chairman Francis Tolentino of MMDA and the overall Chairman of MMFF included this section in 2010 to cater to the flourishing independent film industry in the country.

The screening of the Full Feature entries will be on Dec. 19-22, 2012 at Glorietta with a Gala Night on the 18th. The screening will also include the Student Short Film entries, the deadline of which is also on November 5, 2012. Pioneered last year, the Student Short Film competition will include ten 20-minute short films from college students nationwide,

Meanwhile, the entries for the MMFF CinePhone contest for high school and college students are already online and available for voting. With the theme on restoring road courtesy among motorists and pedestrians, student finalists have shot their stories and produced videos with genres ranging from romance to action and horror. Netizens can visit, watch the videos and vote for their favorite ones. CinePhone's network sponsor, Smart Communications has also launched text voting for the videos by sending in texts to 9977. "We are particularly proud of the CinePhone finalists. They've come a long way from sending in their scripts to actually filming and editing their videos. They should be proud of their final work," said Student Short Section Head Dir. Paul Soriano.

"The New Wave Section of the MMFF this year is definitely bigger and stronger. What we want is to showcase the independent and young talents and give them a stage to tell their stories. We are encouraging everyone to support this aspect of the movie industry," Chairman Tolentino said.

The announcement of finalists for the Full Feature and Student Short Films, as well as the winners of the CinePhone will be on Nov. 10 at Emar Suites, Mandaluyong during the MMFF Press Conference.

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OCTOBER 24, 2012

MMDA Bidding Process is Fair

The MMDA clarified that the bidding process for the upgrading of its obsolete traffic signals is in place. Atty. Joseph Salud, lawyer for MMDA, clarified that the bidding process is still on-going and not a single centavo has been spent.

In filing the case, Atty. Salud states that losing bidder Abratique reneged on its duly signed and notarized undertaking that they will not file any case against the MMDA before any court concerning the bidding for the project. Abratique, represented by Efren Abratique and its partner, First United Contractors Corporation, waived their "right to seek and obtain writs of injunction or prohibition or restraining order against MMDA to prevent and restrain the bidding procedures related thereto, including the holding of bidding and any procedure related thereto, the negotiating and award of contract to a successful bidder, and the carrying out of the awarded contract."

After the MMDA declared a failure of bidding for the second time, losing bidder Abratique and Associates opted to bring the matter to the court after they failed to exhaust all other remedies available to them under the bidding procedures mandated by law. It filed the case after initially manifesting their intention to join the third bidding for the project, which is still on-going. Atty. Salud labeled Abratique as a "sourgraper."

The MMDA, as procuring entity, is authorized to declare a failure of bidding

The MMDA Chairman, as head of the procuring entity, exercised his power and duty clearly stated is Section 41 of RA 9184 of the Government Procurement Reform Law, which stated that:

The Head of the Agency reserves the right to reject any and all Bids, declare a failure of bidding, or not award the contract in the following situations:
  1. If there is prima facie evidence of collusion between appropriate public officers or employees of the Procuring Entity, or between the BAC and any of the bidders, or if the collusion is between or among the bidders themselves, or between a bidder and a third party, including any act which restricts, suppresses or nullifies or tends to restrict, suppress or nullify competition;
  2. If the BAC is found to have failed in following the prescribed bidding procedures; or
  3. For any justifiable and reasonable ground where the award of the contract will not redound to the benefit of the government as defined in the IRR.

When the MMDA Chairman rightly declared a failure of bidding, he only did so in order to protect not only the interest of the agency but the whole government as well for a transparent and credible bidding. It is the duty of the Chairman to procure the most technically advanced traffic system for Metro Manila and, in doing so, enter into a contract most advantageous to the government. "Chairman Francis Tolentino dreams of a world-class traffic signal system for Metro Manila", according to MMDA lawyer Joseph Salud, "and this court action might just delay the process."

The action of the MMDA Chairman was based on a ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of A.C. Esguerra and Sons vs. Dominador R. Aytona, et. al., G.R. No. L-18751, 28 April 1962, 4 SCRA 1245, citing 43 Am Jur., 788, where it said:

Frequently, either by statute or by the terms of the advertisement for bids, the right to reject any or all the bids is reserved. Such a reservation is generally held to vest in the authorities a wide discretion as to who is the best as well as the lowest bidder, and this involves inquiry, investigation, comparison, deliberation and decision; which are quasi-judicial functions and, when honestly exercised, may not be reviewed by the courts. In these cases there is no binding obligation to award the contract to any bidder, and although all bids are rejected and the enterprise abandoned, if in good faith, or all bids are rejected and new bids and asked for, courts will seldom, if ever, interfere. It has been held, that where the right to reject is reserved, the lowest bid or any bid may be rejected on a mere technicality, that all bids may be rejected, even if arbitrarily and unwisely, or under a mistake, that in the exercise of a sound discretion, the award may be made to another than the lowest bidder ().

The MMDA Chairman declared a failure of bidding in order to preserve the integrity of the whole project. The same will pave the way to an entirely new procurement process which is more transparent and will serve the best interest of the government and the public. In fact, according to Atty. Salud, the reconstituted technical committee is composed of top officials coming from the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Public Works and Highways, and the National Center for Transport Studies of the University of the Philippines, among others, making it an inter-agency endeavor.

The MMDA Chairman's action was guided by the basic principles of government procurement: transparency, competitiveness, good governance and accountability.

In COA vs. Link Worth, GR. No. 182559, March 13, 2009, the Supreme Court held that:

"xxx A strict adherence on the principles, rules and regulations on public bidding must be sustained if only to preserve the integrity and the faith of the general public on the procedure."

The claim of Abratique that the MMDA is favoring a bidder has no basis

Under the law, after the failure of the second bidding, the MMDA can easily enter into a negotiated procurement process. Abratique maliciously and erroneously thought that the MMDA would do so to favor a particular bidder.

Instead of going to an alternative mode of procurement, which is through a negotiated agreement after the declaration of a second failure of bidding, the MMDA Chairman deemed it best for the agency to call for a third public bidding, this time, with the Imperial College of London in England acting as special adviser on traffic signals management for the MMDA.

"This clearly shows that Chairman Tolentino wants to raise the bar to global standards," according to Atty. Salud.

Abratigue registered as a bidder for the third bidding. Unfortunately, it did not formally submit a bid, and chose to file a case in court asking for a temporary restraining order and asking the court to award the project to them.

Abratique did not submit the better bid

During the second bidding which was declared a failure, the proposal submitted by Abratique was evaluated as the 2nd rated bidder. Meaning, it submitted an inferior bid.

By filing the case, Abratique wants the court to award the contract which they could not get under a fair and transparent bidding provided for by law.

Chairman Tolentino, who just arrived from the Vatican after witnessing the canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod welcomed the filing of the case as a part of the transparent process. "Some of my policies, apart from the strict public scrutiny, underwent a judicial microscopic procedure as well, referring to the 'Anti-Smoking Drive' (which was stopped by a Mandaluyong RTC TRO), the Anti-Giant Billboard Campaign, the 'motorcycle lanes' and even a film entry in last year's Metro Manila Film Festival. We welcome the current case as another challenge. Eventually, the integrity of the process will be upheld." Concluded Chairman Tolentino.

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SEPTEMBER 26, 2012

MMDA to Segregate City Bus Stops

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino revealed in a meeting yesterday with city bus operators the Agency's proposal to segregate bus stops along EDSA by making them alternately exclusive to Buses A and Buses B.

"Currently, we have two types of city buses in EDSA – A for Alabang routes and B for Baclaran routes. Both types can load and unload passengers on all stops in EDSA. We are proposing to designate every other stops to either only A or only B," explained Tolentino. For example, only Buses B can stop at Taft, while A can only stop at Magallanes.

Over 3,000 buses ply EDSA everyday. They are only allowed to use the two rightmost lanes, commonly called yellow lanes. With this bus stop segregation scheme, bus congestion in the yellow lane as well as accidents will hopefully be reduced. "There won't be a reason for all buses to fight over one bus stop anymore. Plus, it will increase travel time for our commuters," the MMDA Chief added.

In addition to the scheme, Tolentino also said that MMDA will brand a certain percent of each bus fleet as "all-stop" buses. These will load and unload at every bus stop so as to accommodate short-distance travels. "As of now, what we're thinking is that the all-stop buses will be able to accommodate those at Bus A stops who want to get off at Bus B stops and vice versa," he told the operators.

Tolentino explained that before implementing this scheme, several bus operator consultations will be conducted and an extensive information campaign will be in place for the public.

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SEPTEMBER 17, 2012

MMDA to launch Metro Solusyon Website

In sync with its relentless efforts to rid its rank of unscrupulous personnel, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will launch the Metro Solusyon website tomorrow, 10 a.m., at the MMDA grounds in Makati City.

The Metro Solusyon website, patterned after India's I paid a bribe website but made more serious, can be accessed through

According to Chairman Francis Tolentino, the website aims to foster transparency and active civic participation in finding solutions to various metro-wide concerns.

"The main premise of the Metro Solusyon website is Ako Kasama sa Solusyon. I am urging the public to report complaints / incidents involving MMDA employees, laud or commend a good deed done by our personnel, and suggest possible solutions to the problems of Metro Manila," Tolentino said.

The new website features the following sections: What is Metro Solusyon, What I Should Know Before I Report in This Site, A Call for Citizen Partnership, Legal, MMDA's Commintment, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), and Other MMDA Initiatives.

Anyone who wishes to report any incident must login first. Complaints must include the full name of the complainant together with the specific date, time and place where the incident happened. They will receive a confirmation notice if their report was received successfully and will be given a reference number which they can use for follow-up.

"We will verify the complaints first before we publish it to the website in order to protect our personnel from bogus and malicious reports. But we will investigate right away complaints which are truthful," Tolentino said.

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.

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SEPTEMBER 12, 2012

MMDA Donates 300 Capsule Beds to a DSWD-Run Halfway-House

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today further cemented its close partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with the donation of 300 capsule beds to a DSWD-run transient home in Mandaluyong City.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino led this morning's turnover ceremonies of 300 Japanese-inspired capsule beds to the Jose Fabella Center, a temporary shelter for vagrants, mendicants, transients, and homeless people.

“We understand that Jose Fabella Center has limited bed capacity and we are hoping that these capsule beds will help them accommodate more street dwellers,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino signed a memorandum of agreement with DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman in the turnover of the capsule beds, which came from the MMDA Workers Inn II (Gwapotel) on Jose Abad Santos Street in Tondo, Manila that the agency closed down last year.

The capsule bed is a modular plastic or fiberglass block fit for one occupant. It comes complete with a small electric fan for the comfort of the person sleeping inside it.

Tolentino said capsules beds can be stacked side by side and top to bottom, with stairs to access the second and third level rooms.

Capsule beds became popular in Japan, where so-called capsule hotels operate extremely small “rooms” or capsule beds, providing cheap and basic overnight accommodation for guests.

Director Alicia Bonoan of the DSWD-NCR said the capsule beds are of great help to the Jose Fabella Center, which only has a 220-bed capacity. The center now houses more than 200 homeless people.

“One time, we had more than 800 people here. They had to the sleep on mats on the corridors and hallways because we have no more room and beds for them,” Bonoan recounted.

The MMDA's Street Dweller Care Unit also regularly turns over to the Jose Fabella Center vagrants and mendicants it round up in the streets, sidewalks, and under the flyovers and on pedestrian overpasses.

Tolentino said the capsule beds can be used in the rescue and relief operations of the DSWD during calamities. It can be transported to various evacuation centers across the country.

Soliman, on the other hand, said the DSWD is grateful of the MMDA's donations. She said the agency has been closely working with the MMDA in providing social services to the poor and disadvantaged sectors.

The DSWD secretary said she currently in talks with the MMDA leadership in converting the once Gwapotel 2 building in Abad Santos, Manila as a temporary shelter for street dwellers.

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Traffic constables undergo martial arts training

Traffic constables of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) started their first day of martial arts training this morning to equip them with basic self-defense skills to ward off violent attackers.

An initial batch of 50 traffic constables underwent rigid training on stick fighting or arnis, knife defense, and hand-to-hand combat at the MMDA grounds in Makati City under the instruction of martial arts experts from the Pasay City-based Modern Arnis Mano-Mano-Filipino Martial Arts.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said they instituted the training program not to encourage traffic constables to become arrogant and abusive but to help them defend themselves against attacks by motorists and even criminal elements.

"We do not want them to be aggressive and use their skills in abusing anyone. This is only for self-defense. At the same time, we want to show to the public that we can go to their aid and defend them in critical situations," Tolentino said.

Each batch of 50 traffic constables will undergo three sessions of martial arts training. Tolentino said it will take a month to train all 1,600 traffic constables of the agency.

Donned in white Karate Gi or martial arts uniforms, the traffic constables were also taught on how to disarm a knife-wielding attacker and how to throw off a punch or a slap.

Martial arts instructors also taught the traffic constables in dealing with street criminals such as snatchers and robbers.

Tolentino said the arnis instruction will be of great help to the traffic constables once they are issued batons.

"Once we have completed their training, they will be issued batons," he said.

Tolentino, however, warned traffic constables of severe sanctions should they use their newfound skills in abusing others.

Martial arts chief instructor Tony Nicolas said they will highlight to the MMDA trainees the importance of self-control and self-discipline. He pointed out that self-defense is not meant to kill an attacker but to preserve life.

"Teaching them self-defense skills is not enough. It should sink to their minds that these skills are not something to brag about or to be used in bullying anyone," Nicolas stressed.

"Self-defense is both physical and mental development. What they should learn first is to be alert all the time and how to analyze every situation they get into," he added.

The MMDA's self-defense training program is an offshoot of the numerous incidents of traffic constables being harassed and hurt by abusive and arrogant motorists, such as the case of Traffic Constable 2 Saturnino Fabros.

Fabros, who was among the first batch of trainees, was repeatedly slapped and insulted by former Phillip Morris employee Robert Blair Carabuena whom he tried to apprehend for a traffic violation in Quezon City.

The attack on Fabros was caught on camera and spread in social media. Charges have been filed against Carabuena at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City.

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MMDA holds fourth "Oplan Metro Yakal" earthquake drill on September 9

More than 6,000 employees of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will gather once again on Sunday, September 9, for the fourth mobilization drill of Oplan Metro Yakal, an earthquake contingency plan designed to be carried out in case a severe tremor hit Metro Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino will lead the assembly of 6,608 employees at 7 am at the MMDA grounds in Makati City and at the four base camps in Quezon City, Pasig, Manila, and Pasay.

The extensive mobilization drill and disaster response training will be carried out in the wake of the earthquake that recently hit Eastern Samar and Bukidnon, according to Tolentino.

Tolentino serves as the chairman of the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee (MMDRRMC).

"We have been telling the public that we should be ready anytime. And the two earthquake incidents we had in the past two weeks should be a reminder to us that we should not waste time to prepare ourselves," the MMDA chief said.

Tolentino has organized the MMDA's 6,000-strong workforce as rescue volunteers under Task Force Rainbow, along with 1,000 volunteers from various barangays and associations of fire brigades and civic organizations.

At the MMDA, employees are also made to undergo the Earthquake, Landslide and Search and Rescue Operation and Incident Command System Training programs, short courses on disaster preparedness, response, and management.

Task Force Rainbow is divided into four sectors: the North sector includes Malabon, Caloocan, Valenzuela, and Quezon City; Marikina, Pasig, San Juan in the East; Manila, Navotas, and Pasay compose the West; and the South – Las Pinas, Taguig, Makati, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Parañaque and Pateros.

Under the Oplan Metro Yakal, all MMDA employee-rescuers shall report to their assigned sectors or base camps in the earliest possible time in the event of an earthquake.

Those assigned to the North sector will have the Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Quezon City as its staging area; Ultra Sports Center in Pasig City for the East; Intramuros Golf Course for the West, and Villamor Airbase Golf Course for the South.

If an earthquake takes place during regular office hours, the Task Force Rainbow will assemble at the MMDA main office in Makati City, from where they will be deployed to areas that need immediate critical assistance.

On Sunday, Tolentino said they will again practice the deployment of personnel to the four base camps using all available transportation modes at the MMDA.

"We will also test our communications equipment during the drill, to see how reliable they can be particularly when disasters strike. Communications is vital in any rescue and relief operations," Tolentino said.

The MMDA employees and volunteers will also undergo refresher courses on basic search and rescue, debris clearing, emergency communication and transport, traffic management and control, and relief and rehabilitation services, among others, he added.

Tolentino launched the Oplan Metro Yakal last year at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, which gathered around 3,000 rescuers from the MMDA, local government units and other volunteer organizations.

Mobilization and simulation drills had since been held on February 12 and June 22 this year.

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MMDA introduces board game about environmental conservation

To educate students on flood control and environmental conservation, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has designed an educational board game it called "Metro Manila Ilog Pasig" game.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino introduced the board game to 4th year students of Guadalupe Catholic School in Makati City, highlighting to the young ones the importance of caring for the environment.

Patterned after the classic Indian board game Snakes and Ladders, the MMDA-designed Metro Manila Ilog Pasig game follows the old board game's objective of racing to the finish line by overcoming various obstacles.

The MMDA board game, however, provides students with helpful facts and trivia about deforestation, flooding, global warming and waste recycling as they navigate towards the finish line. The game's setting is the stretch of Pasig River.

"We thought this game would help students realize the value of environmental conservation, even while they are playing," Tolentino said.

In coordination with the Department of Education (DepEd), Tolentino said they will go around school campuses in Metro Manila to distribute the board games to students and conduct short lectures about environmental conservation and protection and disaster risk management.

Tolentino added they will soon come up with an improved version of the game that would include facts about the MMDA's flood control facilities such as pumping stations.

He said he will also meet with DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro to suggest the possible inclusion into the curriculum of a subject or course that teaches environmental protection.

"But people need to realize that flooding and being in an evacuation center is certainly not fun and rescuing disaster victims is not a game. This should sink in to the residents of Metro Manila, including our students," Tolentino said.

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AUGUST 29, 2012

Deadline for submission of stories in MMDA's Cine-Phone Film Festival extended

Student filmmakers have until September 17 to submit their entries to the first-ever Cine-Phone Festival of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Metro Manila Film Festival - Philippines (MMFFP).

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said they have extended the deadline of submission of entries from August 26 to September 17 due to insistent requests from various school and university officials.

"The deadline extension will encourage more participation from students, especially those who have passion for filmmaking," Tolentino, who also chairs the MMFFP, said.

Tolentino clarified that would-be contestants need only to submit their storylines to the MMFFP office, which must be in sync with the theme, "Restoring Road Courtesy Among Motorists and Pedestrians."

A total of 60 stories will be selected - 20 each from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Students will then undergo an extensive moviemaking workshop before they can start production of their final video entries.

Cine-Phone is a cellphone movie-making contest open to all high school and college students duly endorsed by their respective schools or universities. Entries must be one to three minutes long and filmed exclusively through the use of mobile phone cameras.

To date, MMFF has received more than 300 story entries from as far as Mandaue, Cebu, Davao, General Santos City, Iloilo, and Bicol region, according to Tolentino.

Tolentino announced that the university caravan will continue this September to further promote the Cine-Phone and Student Short Film Competition.

The caravan will be led by award-winning Director Paul Soriano, who heads the 2012 New Wave student section of the MMFFP. The schedule is as follows: University of the Philippines - Diliman on September 6; Adamson University on September 10; and several colleges and universities in Davao and Cebu on September 11 and 12.

There will also be a free showing of the independent film "Thelma", which Soriano directed and has won him awards locally and internationally.

Soriano has also made his own Cine-Phone film "Find Love: Use the Footbridge" to encourage students to produce their own cellphone movies. This will be shown during the caravan and can also be viewed at the MMDA's Facebook and Youtube accounts.

The Cine-Phone competition seeks to widen the scope of the annual Metro Manila film festival by encouraging independent and young filmmakers to participate, Tolentino said.

Six regional winners will be chosen and awarded P25,000 each during the MMFFP's Gabi ng Parangal set on December 27.

Aside from this, winners will receive free post-production packages, digital cameras, broadband kits, high-end smart phones, and apprenticeship under Soriano and Viva Productions.

Meanwhile, entries to the competition's Student Short and Full Feature will be accepted until October 25.

"I am optimistic that the Cine-Phone competition will produce potential award-winning directors and will add to the success of this year's MMFFP," Tolentino said.

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AUGUST 15, 2012

MMDA and Metro Manila Mayors Tie up with the Muslim Community in celebration of the 2012 Eid'l Fitr Festival

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the seventeen mayors of Metro Manila have agreed to tie up with the Muslim community as it celebrates the 2012 Eid'l Fitr Festival on August 24 to 26.

This was agreed upon during the regular meeting of the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the policy-making body of the MMDA, held recently at the Manila Yacht Club.

MMDA Resolution Number 12-15 expresses full support for this year's Eid'l Fitr Festival to be held for three days at the Atrium of The Block, SM City North Edsa.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the event will forge a stronger partnership between Muslims and non-Muslims and advance national peace and unity through a better understanding of Filipino Muslim cultural heritage.

The MMDA will have its own exhibit booth which will feature the agency's various projects and programs on traffic management, public health and safety, and flood control, among other things.

"This activity will advance the awareness of Filipinos to the social, cultural, and economic contributions of our Muslim brothers," Tolentino said.

This year's festival aims to showcase the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and promote its potential as significant contributor to the country's economic development, tourism, trade, and industry.

Eid'l Fitr is a day of celebration and a time of forgiveness for the Muslims. It is celebrated after the month-long Ramadan, or the month of fasting and prayer.

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AUGUST 15, 2012

MMDA files case against abusive motorist who attacked a traffic constable

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will file criminal charges today against a Philip Morris executive who beat up a traffic constable in Quezon City last Saturday.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said he has directed the Legal Service to file direct assault charges against Robert Blair Carabuena, recruitment officer of the multinational tobacco company, on behalf of Traffic Constable Saturnino Fabros.

The criminal complaint will be filed today at the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City.

"We cannot allow this aggression and shameless attack against our men who are only doing their job as best as they can, regardless of the risks they face in the streets every day," Tolentino said.

Saying the assault on Fabros is also an attack against the MMDA, Tolentino demanded that Carabuena issue a public apology.

Carabuena was caught on camera slapping Fabros several times over a traffic violation. Fabros said he had tried to apprehend Carabuena after he ignored the stop signal at the corner of Capitol Drive and Tandang Sora Avenue in Quezon City.

Tolentino said he will also ask the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to cancel Carabuena's driver's license as "abusive and arrogant motorists like him, who obviously do not have serious regard to the rule of law, have no right to be in the road in the first place."

Under the Revised Penal Code, direct assault is charged to any person who shall attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or resist any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties.

Direct assault is punishable by a prison term of six months to six years.

Tolentino said the criminal liability of Carabuena is aggravated by the fact -- as shown in the video footages -- that he laid his hands upon Fabros, a person in authority.

"As with all of our men who were attacked and intimidated by undisciplined motorists while performing their duties, we will see to it that justice is served to Mr. Fabros," the MMDA chief said, adding that they will extend all possible assistance to the traffic constable.

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AUGUST 3, 2012

MMDA to Provide Free Shuttle Services to UPCAT Examinees

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will provide free rides to students going to the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City for the scheduled college admission tests on Aug. 4 (Saturday) and Aug. 5 (Sunday).

There will be two meetup places for the free rides which is dubbed as "MMDA - UPCAT Libreng Hatid". The loading points will be at EDSA-East Avenue, in front of the DILG Building and at C5 - Ortigas Ilalim near the MMDA Rescue Station.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the free rides are intended to transport the UP hopefuls conveniently and quickly to the state university, particularly those coming from nearby provinces such as Rizal and Cavite.

Scheduled departure times at the DILG Building and C-5-Ortigas meet-up places for the libreng hatid program are 4:30 am, 5:00 am, 5:30 am, and 6:00 am.

Tolentino advised the examinees to come on time as there will only be limited seats per trip.

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JULY 24, 2012

MMDA to Launch First-Ever Cine-Phone Film Festival

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will officially launch the first-ever Cine-Phone Film Festival on Thursday (July 26) at the De La Salle - College of St. Benilde's FDA Cinema in Manila.

Serving as a prelude to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) scheduled every December, the Cine-Phone competition seeks to widen the scope of the annual event by encouraging independent and young filmmakers to participate.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Cine-Phone contest will be a viable medium for young people with creative minds and at the same time promote basic ideals to the movie-going public.

Cine-Phone is open to all high school and college students duly endorsed by their respective schools / universities. Entries must be three to five minutes long, totally filmed through the use of mobile phone cameras, and must be in sync with this year's theme "Restoring Road Courtesy Among Motorists and Pedestrians."

60 entries will be selected, twenty each from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, ten per category (high school and college). Six regional winners will be chosen and awarded P25,000 each during the MMFF's Gabi ng Parangal set on December 27. Aside from this, winners will receive free post-production packages, digital cameras, broadband kits, high-end smart phones, and apprenticeship under film director Paul Soriano.

According to Tolentino, there will also be a university caravan next month to further promote the Cine-Phone and Student Short Film Competition.

A team led by Soriano, who heads the New Wave section of this year's MMFF, will go around several school campuses such as Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros and University of the Philippines - Diliman to encourage promising student artists to show their craft through the competition specifically designed for them.

"I am optimistic that the Cine-Phone competition will produce potential award-winning directors and will add to the success of this year's MMFF," Tolentino said.

The MMFF, an annual event espoused by MMDA, is organized primarily to help promote and enhance the preservation, growth and development of the local film industry and to extend financial assistance to the local movie industry through its beneficiaries representing various sectors of the movie industry.

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JULY 13, 2012

Bus Lanes Stay, Says MMDA

In view of the pressing need to alleviate traffic congestion and outline measures to avoid road accidents, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority announced today that the 'Bus Lane' policy of the Authority will remain effective and will be strictly enforced along the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA).

"The government recognizes that the high incidence of road crashes and alarming number of traffic accidents are a major public safety concern which result to a broad range of social and economic consequences", Chairman Tolentino said in a statement.

A consultative meeting was held yesterday between MMDA and concerned stakeholders to address several concerns concerning the implementation of the bus lane policy. Provincial bus operators asked MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino to allow them to use the flyovers and underpasses beyond the window.

As a result of the meeting, Memorandum Circular 08, Series of 2012 was issued which provides for the strict implementation of bus (yellow) lanes, loading and unloading bay stations, and third lane for provincial buses on EDSA.

"We will only allow city buses to use the designated bus lanes clearly marked with yellow lines that serve as a divider between the bus lane and those intended for private vehicles. All provincial and city buses are not allowed to use any underpass or tunnel along EDSA, but they will be allowed to use the Magallanes Flyover", Tolentino said.

Under the said Memorandum Circular, all provincial buses shall occupy the third lane of EDSA and shall be allowed to traverse flyovers, but they will not be allowed to enter the tunnels along EDSA.

Northbound city buses shall also be allowed to use the Ortigas Flyover in going to their destination.

Private vehicles caught using the yellow lanes will be fined P500 while PUBs who strayed outside of the yellow lane will be fined P200.

Apart from the strict implementation of the Bus lane, Tolentino also said that MMDA will enhance the Organized Bus Route stations in Fairview, Alabang, Monumento and Baclaran and improve the dispatching system of buses plying EDSA.

"It is high time that we take drastic action to prevent further loss of lives and damage to properties. Every motorist should be part of the solution to help promote civility and responsibility on the road", Tolentino concluded.

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JULY 6, 2012

MMDA Spearheads Formal Blessing of EDSA

Following a spate of vehicular accidents along Metro Manila's primary thoroughfare, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today spearheaded the formal blessing of Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA).

The event started at 6:00 a.m. at the southbound section of EDSA-Magallanes, with officiating priest Roderick Castro leading everyone in prayer.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the simple rite was conducted to seek Divine Providence after a series of accidents along EDSA where several motorists and pedestrians reportedly died and were injured recently.

"We found out that the entirety of EDSA has not been formally blessed, as far back as when it was still known as Highway 54. So we decided to do it now, hoping that it would somehow lessen the road mishaps," Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief, together with agency officials and several employees, traversed the 24-kilometer stretch highway, on board a pick up vehicle, from Magallanes to Muñoz.

The convoy stopped at various points that recorded high number of fatal accidents such as Ayala Tunnel, Buendia, Guadalupe, Crossing Underpass, and Ortigas flyover to offer short prayers.

According to Tolentino, the blessing of EDSA, though, would not suffice to curb vehicular accidents. "MMDA is continuously finding solutions to improve traffic situation in Metro Manila. But the public should also cooperate, road discipline is important. Drivers should always be safety-conscious."

Another group, led by General Manager Corazon Jimenez, did the same on the northbound lane, from Monumento to EDSA-Taft Avenue.

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JULY 5, 2012

MMDA Backs DOLE on Fixed Wages for Public Utility Bus Drivers

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today expressed support for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and hope for its steadfast implementation of Department Order (DO) No. 118-12 directing fixed wages for public utility bus drivers and conductors, especially in the wake of opposition from provincial bus operators.

"DOLE is on the right track in providing bus drivers and conductors with fixed wages. This is a long overdue measure that will eventually lessen the number of bus related accidents not only in Metro Manila, but in the rest of the country as well. By looking after our drivers and conductors, we are looking after the commuting public," Tolentino said.

The Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines, Southern Luzon Bus Operators Association, Inc., Inter City Bus Operators Association and the City of San Jose Del Monte Bus Operators Association on Wednesday jointly filed before the Supreme Court their opposition to the DO No. 118-12, on the ground that it shall cause a breach of the employer-employee contract.

Tolentino averred that the existence of employer-employee relationship is determined by law and cannot be negated by any contract. The 1987 Constitution provides that the State shall afford full protection to labor and guarantees the right of workers to humane conditions of work and a living wage. The Labor Code laid down the guidelines in determining the existence of employer-employee relationship.

He added further that the Supreme Court, in several cases, one of which is Doce vs. Workmen's Compensation Commission, 104 Phils 946, upheld the status of bus drivers as regular employees. They are, therefore, entitled to minimum wage and other benefits.

"Due to the recent high incidence of road accidents brought about by bad weather, it is high time to implement the said order that will do away with the "boundary system". Ultimately, we expect lesser bus-related accidents as bus drivers earning fixed salaries will now focus more on safety," Tolentino said.

MMDA records show bus-related incidents in Metro Manila numbered to 5,103 in 2009, 6,749 in 2010, and 6,176 in 2011.

MMDA is also considering formally intervening in the case by filing a petition for intervention.

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JUNE 26, 2012

MMDA Chairman Supports DOLE Move for Bus Drivers' Fixed Salaries

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino today lauded the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for requiring bus companies to pay their drivers a fixed salary and provide other benefits mandated by the Labor Code, beginning July 1. "This will significantly reduce the reckless and risk-taking behavior of drivers due to lack of income security," he said.

Last January, the DOLE issued Department Order No. 118-12 covering all public utility bus owners or operators employing drivers and conductors.

The effort to regularize bus driver salaries was one of several proposals and initiatives by the government following the tragic death last year of UP Professor Lourdes Estella Simbulan. Simbulan perished after a passenger bus crashed into a taxi she was riding at Commonwealth Avenue near the UP Technohub in Diliman, Quezon City.

Shortly after Simbulan's untimely demise, both MMDA and DOLE called for an inter-agency dialogue with the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, DOLE and bus operators. The agencies conducted ocular inspections of bus terminals and eventually signed a Joint Statement pledging that bus drivers' wages shall be based on part-fixed and part-performance based parameters, instead of purely commission basis.

"I commend the Department of Labor and Employment, especially Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz for her unstinting support for the bus drivers' rights to a fixed salary, rest days, overtime and night differential and other benefits mandated by the Labor Code," said Tolentino. The MMDA chief reiterated his call for drivers to be properly educated on the long-term benefits of this measure, saying that in the long run they will be getting more and would be assured of pension when they retire, thus benefiting their families.

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JUNE 21, 2012

MMDA Summer Job Interns Give High Ratings to the Agency

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino's summer job internship program generated high marks from the student interns. Most of the 181 participants rendered glowing reports at the close of the program.

The MMDA implements/ enforces discipline and orderliness in the whole of Metro Manila," wrote one student. "Contrary to negative news items, MMDA has dedication and commitment in performing their office mandates," said another.

The summer internship program was organized in coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment. At the start of the program, the MMDA Chief expressed his hope that the students would learn to appreciate what MMDA has done and is doing. He wanted them to see that there are good and committed public servants.

The interns were assigned to the Agency's different offices such as: the MMDA Worker's Inn, a low-cost facility for transient workers; the Mobile Command Center, the Agency's nerve center which houses its CCTV network and traffic monitors; the San Andres Pumping Station, one of the Agency's biggest pumping stations; the Street Dwellers Care Unit, which rescues street urchins and brings them to DSWD facilities; the rehabilitated Estero de Paco; Emergency Satellite Stations where road emergency units are strategically located to quickly respond to road accidents and other contingencies; the MMDA Traffic Academy in Sta. Mesa; and the Quezon City Payatas Sanitary Landfill.

Some of the interns were assigned to the Office of the Chairman and the Planning Office. These interns observed meetings, conducted research, processed public inquiries and complaints and wrote memos.

Interestingly, most of the interns' memorable and valuable experiences were visiting the DSWD-run Jose Fabella Center, the Payatas Sanitary Landfill and the San Andres Pumping Station/ Estero de Paco.

"MMDA projects are all good and will lead to the upliftment and attainment of a more humane and productive metropolis," wrote an intern. "MMDA is an important and productive government agency that does not only regulate or enforce traffic, but also effectively implements 7 other mandates," said another.

Apart from traffic and transport management, the Agency also handles developmental planning, flood control and sewerage management, solid waste management, public safety, urban renewal and health and sanitation.

"I saw the good side of MMDA, their dedication and commitment to their work, they are willing to risk their lives. MMDA served as my second home this summer," another intern wrote.

Chairman Tolentino, who met with the interns on several occasions said it warmed his heart to know they had a good experience. He promised to institutionalize and further improve the student program.

His favorite comment? "One of the interns changed my MMDA motto - he said MMDA stands for Magaling, Maaasahan, Dapat Tularan ng Ibang Ahensya and Astig (Cool kase mga projects)."

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JUNE 20, 2012

MMDA Chief Calls for City Bus Company Mergers

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today suggested that merging bus companies would be an effective strategy to improve the quality of public transportation in Metro Manila.

"The major contributor to Metro Manila's traffic congestion is the perceived inefficient operation of public utility buses," Tolentino said. "It has been observed that public utility buses' operations are marred with low average occupancy levels that often result in long queues at bus stops, chaotic behavior of bus drivers brought about by fierce competition for passengers, a high accident rate, high pollution levels and proliferation of illegal activities including colorum and out-of-line operations. We have complaints from commuters all the time about this."

Taking cue from international best practices such as the amalgation of bus companies in Singapore and Colombia which resulted in a more efficient public transportation system and the airline mergers in the United States of America which increased the profitability and financial sustainability of airline operations, Tolentino proposed the same as a solution to the perennial traffic problems of Metro Manila. "Singapore has one of the best public transportation systems in the world, and it never would have been realized if not for the government's initiation of mergers," explained the Chairman.

Tolentino referred to the authority and power of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to initiate and encourage mergers and consolidations of bus companies. "The LTFRB can grant incentives to companies who opt to merge or consolidate, such as granting them preferential and exclusive Certificates of Public Convenience (CPCs)," he said. LTFRB has the power to issue, amend, revise, suspend or cancel Certificates of Public Convenience or permits authorizing the operation of public land transportation services provided by motorized vehicles. Examples of incentives currently given by the agency are ten-year CPCs for applicants who have brand new fleets of vehicles and an additional two-year license validation for taxis which will convert to LPG.

The MMDA Chairman called for LTFRB to issue merger guidelines based on of the buses' franchise, income, history of traffic violations, viability and passenger ridership.

This proposal is in line with the Authority's traffic and transport management mandate under Republic Act No. 7924. The MMDA is also proposing the following programs: modernization of its Organized Bus Route (OBR) System; construction of the Skybridge, Bus Rapid Transit and the Personal Rapid System.

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JUNE 18, 2012

MMDA Unveils Smoking Cessation Clinic

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), led by Chairman Francis Tolentino, today unveiled its mobile smoking cessation clinic at the MMDA Grounds in Makati City.

The mobile cessation clinic, a converted bus, will be deployed in areas with the highest number of smoking apprehensions such as Ortigas and Cubao, to give counseling and lifestyle modification tips to smokers who want to kick the habit.

Tolentino said the cessation clinic is a proof of the agency's successful anti-smoking drive, which has so far caught almost 32,000 violators since it was launched in July last year.

"The MMDA will continue to implement the anti-smoking campaign, despite the legal battles we are facing. It is part of our mandate, to promote public health," Tolentino said.

During the official launch of the mobile cessation bus, Engr. Emerito Rojas, a survivor of throat cancer, gave a moving testimony about how he lost his voice to smoking.

Rojas is now the head of New Vois Association of the Philippines that campaigns against smoking.

The mobile cessation clinic will be manned by highly-trained nurses and qualified medical personnel and will go around the metropolis to offer professional intervention.

Tolentino said the violators will be shown a 20-minute audio visual presentation that highlights the dangers of smoking and gives easy-to-do tips on kicking the habit.

The MMDA already operates a cessation clinic at its office in Makati City that caters to employees, and has since been strictly implementing its 100 percent smoke-free environment policy.

Of the 17 LGUs in Metro Manila - Pasig, Makati, Parañaque, Pateros, and Marikina now have their own cessation clinics to reinforce their respective no smoking ordinances.

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JUNE 16, 2012

Metro Manila to Host 2013 Asian Network for Disaster Management

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino announced today that next year, Metro Manila will host the 2013 Asian Network for Disaster Management Conference, tentatively scheduled on July 2013 to coincide with National Disaster Consciousness Month.

The Conference is an annual event hosted in turn by member-cities of the Asian Network for Major Cities 21 (ANMC21). ANMC21 is an international network which undertakes joint projects on common tasks for the prosperity and development of the Asian region in areas such as crisis management, environmental countermeasures and industrial development.

ANMC21 joint projects tackle common problems of major cities. The City of Tokyo organized the Crisis Management Conference for member cities to share experiences and know-how on crisis management, and foster human resources for handling the same.

The Conference also builds a crisis management network to facilitate the swift exchange of information in times of emergencies such as typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis and other calamities. Since its inception in 2003, Crisis Management Conferences have been held in Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Bangkok. It was through Chairman Tolentino's initiative that Metro Manila participated in the Conference beginning Year 2011.

Metro Manila was confirmed as the 2013 host during the recently-concluded 10th Crisis Management Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand. The MMDA Chief attended the Bangkok conference together with acting Mayor of Malabon Antolin M. Oreta III and Marikina Vice Mayor Jose Fabian I. Cadiz.

"The Conference is our platform to share what we're doing in Metro Manila, and learn from other cities. Our interventions may not be grandiose, but they're functional," the MMDA Chief said. "With our limited resources, we do not have the luxury to be sophisticated. We can address a crisis situation in a manner that is down-to-earth, economical but effective. The Conference allows us to collectively build confidence that we are moving in the right direction."

Chairman Tolentino cited the Agency's various flood control and crisis interventions such as the design of low-cost flood boats, distribution of emergency tents, setting up community-level Flood Control Bayanihan Zone Alliances, regular estero clean-ups or "Estero Blitzes", preparation of a four-volume flood control plan and the long-term Metro Manila Greenprint 2030.

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JUNE 9, 2012

Big Names Headline MMFF 2012 Entries

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) received a total of fourteen (14) entries for this year's MMFF Mainstream Category. June 7 (Thursday) marked the deadline for the submission of scripts from producers aspiring to be a part of MMFF this year.

The Metro Manila Film Festival is an annual film festival held every Christmas in recognition of the Philippine Cinema. Proceeds from this go to a number of beneficiaries in the film industry. Last year's MMFF raised a record-breaking income of more than 630 Million Pesos.

"There was an overwhelming response from the producers. We are very happy that most of the country's production companies wanted to join this year," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said. Tolentino is also the overall Chairman of the MMFF Executive Committee which oversees all Festival activities.

Submissions were accepted from Center Stage Production, Scenema Concept International, Unitel Productions, ABS-CBN Productions, Cinemedia Films Production, Octoarts Films, M-ZET Productions, Imus Productions, APT Entertainment, GMA Netrwork Films, Quantum Films, Deus Lux Mea Films, and Regal Entertainment. Producers were required to provide complete scripts along with the filmography of their movies.

"We're very excited about the movies this year. A lot of thought has been put in the scripts and most of our big stars today are included in the projects. What we want is for the entries to be worthy of international audience and I believe that we can make it happen this year," commented Tolentino.

He mentioned that entries included both young and veteran blockbuster movie stars, such as Nora Aunor, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Richard Gomez, Vice Ganda, Kris Aquino, Judy Ann Santos, Cristine Reyes, Bong Revilla, Vic Sotto, Jeorge "E.R." Estregan, Dingdong Dantes, Coco Martin and Eugene Domingo among others.

The submitted scripts are now with the MMFF Screening Committee for the selection process. Announcement of the final eight (8) entries will be on June 18, 2012.

MMFF also includes a New Wave Category for independent films and students short films. It also launched this year as a prelude the MMFF Sine-Phone, a cellphone movie making contest for high school and college students.

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JUNE 7, 2012

MMDA Anti-Smoking Campaign Ramps Up With Mobile Cessation Clinics

Coinciding with the passage of the landmark "sin tax" bill by Congress last night, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will take its anti-smoking campaign to a higher level with the launch of a mobile cessation clinic in various villages in Metro Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino hailed the passage of the sin tax bill. He added that soon after Independence Day, the Agency will unveil its mobile cessation clinic manned by highly-trained nurses and qualified medical personnel. The clinic will help smokers in poor communities quit the habit by offering free counseling and lifestyle modification tips.

"We can now go around the metropolis offering advice to smokers, especially to those who really want to stop smoking but do not know how, or have no means to seek professional intervention," Tolentino said.

The mobile cessation clinic is a converted bus that will be deployed in areas with the highest number of smoking apprehensions. Apprehended no-smoking violators may opt to be given on-the-spot counseling.

Tolentino said the violators will be shown a 20-minute audio visual presentation that highlights the dangers of smoking and gives easy-to-do tips on kicking the habit.

The MMDA already operates a cessation clinic at its office in Makati City that caters to employees, and has since been strictly implementing its 100 percent smoke-free environment policy.

Since its formal launch in July last year, the MMDA's anti-smoking drive has netted a total of 31,730 violators, or an average of 142 apprehensions a day.

The Cubao area in Quezon City has the most number of apprehended smokers at an average of 310 a week, followed by Pasay at 230 and Monumento, 177.

Violators are issued an Environmental Violation Receipt (EVR) and fined P500 or required to render community service.

Tolentino said those who opt for community service will now be required to undergo counseling in the agency's mobile cessation bus.

The MMDA chief said the agency's anti-smoking drive has encouraged local government units not only in Metro Manila but also in the provinces to enforce their own anti-smoking regulations.

Of the 17 LGUs in Metro Manila, seven - Navotas, Pasig, Makati, Manila, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, and Mandaluyong - have passed and have been implementing its anti-smoking ordinances.

As of June 5, the combined total apprehensions of these LGUs stood at 7,077.

Outside Metro Manila, 41 LGUs from as far as Benguet in the north and Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao are enforcing the 100% Smoke-Free Environment Policy, according to Tolentino.

"Overall, there are 107 LGUs with smoke-free ordinances. Many are still into building capacity for the enforcement," he added.

Citing medical studies, Tolentino stressed that smoking remains the number one cause of stroke and heart attack, with 50,000 deaths per year.

"Smoking causes more stroke and heart attack than diabetes, hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol," he pointed out.

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JUNE 5, 2012

MMDA Intensifies Anti-Jaywalking Campaign

At least 164 pedestrians were apprehended today as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) began the implementation of its renewed anti-jaywalking campaign.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said violators were issued Pedestrian Violation Receipts (PVRs) and fined P200 or made to attend a brief, on-the-spot seminar on disaster preparedness.

As of 12 noon, 100 violators were apprehended at Edsa-Ortigas intersection, 32 at Commonwealth Avenue-Litex Road, 16 at Balintawak, and 16 at Edsa-Taft Avenue.

Tolentino led the anti-jaywalking contingent of the MMDA in the first hours of the anti-jaywalking operations, personally lecturing several violators about the anti-jaywalking regulations.

"We should highlight to the public the dangers of jaywalking. This is one way to discourage them from crossing just about anywhere," the MMDA chief said.

He said 54 percent of road accidents in Metro Manila are caused by jaywalkers.

Citing figures from the Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System (MMARAS) of the MMDA, Tolentino said 174 pedestrians were killed last year after being hit by speeding vehicles.

A total of 5,348 jaywalking-related accidents were recorded last year, compared to 4,951 in 2010 wherein 167 pedestrians died.

"Last year, there was a daily average of 14 pedestrian-related traffic accidents. This is an alarming figure," Tolentino said.

Tolentino pointed out that senior citizens, minors, and persons with disabilities are exempted from the P200 fine but they are required to undergo the 15-minute seminar.

"Our traffic enforcers can assist them in going up pedestrian footbridges or crossing the designated pedestrian lanes," he said.

The re-intensified anti-jaywalking drive followed the Metro Manila Council-approved increase in jaywalking fines from P150 to P200.

Tolentino said apprehended violators have the option of paying the P200 fine or submitting themselves to the on-the-spot seminar.

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MAY 31, 2012

MMDA Paints Pedestrian Lanes

In line with its intensified campaign against jaywalking, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has embarked on an extensive re-painting and installation of new pedestrian lanes within the immediate vicinities of schools in Metro Manila.

According to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, at least 1,300 pedestrian lanes will be re-painted.

"These pedestrian lanes will ensure the safety of the students and instill discipline among them," Tolentino said.

Eight pedestrian lanes were already re-painted in San Juan City, eight in Manila, four in Pateros, and one each in Makati and Mandaluyong.

The project is a joint undertaking of the agency's Metro Parkways Clearing Group (MPCG) and the Traffic Engineering Center (TEC).

Tolentino said they have been using thermoplastic materials in re-painting pedestrian lanes, which do not fade easily and reflect at nighttime.

Further, additional "Walang Tawiran Dito" signages will be placed on accident-prone areas to deter jaywalkers.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) approved on Tuesday an amendatory resolution increasing the penalty for jaywalking to P200. Previously, violators were meted a fine of P150.

Tolentino said that jaywalking along the major thoroughfares and streets is one of the contributory factors to the traffic problems and road accidents in Metro Manila.

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MAY 31, 2012

MMDA Bags Red Orchid Award for the Second Consecutive Year

Cited for its strict enforcement of anti-smoking regulations, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) received for the second consecutive year the coveted Red Orchid award from the Department of Health (DOH), which is given annually to smoke-free compliant government agencies, local government units, and state-run hospitals nationwide.

The MMDA¸ which since 1991 has been prohibiting smoking in its premises is the only government agency in Metro Manila awarded by the DOH during the 3rd Red Orchid Awards 2012 held at the Philippine Trade and Training Center in Pasay City yesterday.

"It has been our strict policy to prohibit smoking in our offices. We are grateful to the DOH for recognizing our dedicated effort to comply with the Civil Service (Commission) anti-smoking regulation and the Republic Act 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act)," Chairman Francis Tolentino said.

Last year, MMDA became the first government workplace cited by the DOH for promoting a 100 percent tobacco-free and smoke-free environment in the agency's office in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City, besting five other nominees.

The MMDA chief formally received the Red Orchid trophy, certificate, and P100,000 worth of drugs and medicines for smoking cessation or control of non-communicable diseases.

In hailing the MMDA's smoke-free policy as one of the Best Practices in the government's National Tobacco Control Program, DOH cited the agency's strict monitoring of tobacco use and prevention policy within its jurisdiction following the World Health Organization's (WHO) "MPOWER" initiative.

"MPOWER" is an acronym that stands for the six proven tobacco control policies: M for monitor tobacco use and prevention policies; P for protect people from tobacco smoke; O for offer help to quit tobacco use; W for warn against the dangers of tobacco; E for enforce bans on tobacco advertising; and R for raise taxes on tobacco.

Now on its third year, the Red Orchid award is the DOH's annual search for best practices to implement the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Article 8 or the protection from exposure to tobacco smoke.

Red Orchid awardees are evaluated based on the standards and requirements of a 100 percent tobacco-free environment such as enforcement of tobacco control policies, provision of information and education to warn people about the hazards of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, and delivery of smoking cessation services, among others.

During the awards ceremony, the WHO also conferred the World No Tobacco Day 2012 Award to Tolentino for his relentless efforts and advocacy work towards a 100% smoke-free Metro Manila, despite challenges from tobacco industry interferences.

"Smoking ban should not only be limited within government offices. We should strive to achieve a totally smoke-free Metro Manila as a way to safeguard public health, which is one of our mandates," the MMDA chief said. "There will be no let-up in our anti-smoking campaign, within the metes and bounds of the law."

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MAY 17, 2012

MMDA Chairman Announces First MMFF Sine-Phone Film Festival

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino today announced that as a prelude to the Metro Manila Film Festival, there will be an MMFF Sine-Phone Film Festival for high school and college students. Revolving around the theme "Restoring Road Courtesy Among Motorists and Pedestrians," entries should depict values such as courtesy, discipline and respect.

Set to be launched by mid-June, the MMFF Sine-Phone Filmfest will be open to high school and college students endorsed by their school principals or department heads. Entries that have passed an initial selection process shall consist of 3-5 minute films shot using cellphone cameras. The films may be of any genre such as comedy, drama and horror.

A total of 60 entries will be accepted, 20 each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Applicants will be selected on the basis of scripts submitted to the MMFF Sine-Phone Filmfest Committee. Once the 60 winning scripts are announced, the selected applicants can start producing their entries. Three winning entries, one from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao shall be announced and awarded cash prizes during the Metro Manila Filmfest Awards Night held every last week of December.

"The MMFF Sine-Phone Filmfest promotes inclusive participation in the Metro Manila Filmfest," said Tolentino. "It's not just about commercial films. Last year, we implemented the "New Wave" Section for independent film producers. This year, we will include students who shall participate via an accessible and affordable medium. We want to unleash the creativity and spirit of healthy competition of our youth and at the same time, instill appropriate values," he said.

Entries shall be uploaded to the MMFF Facebook, Twitter and Youtube accounts. Online votes shall form part of the awarding criteria.

Tolentino said the Sine-Phone Filmfest mechanics once finalized, will be publicly announced and posted on the MMDA's social networking accounts.

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MAY 10, 2012

MMDA Donates Multi-Purpose Tents to Metro Manila LGUs

To boost the disaster response capabilities of the local government units in Metro Manila, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has started giving out multi-purpose tents that can be used as remote command centers in times of disasters and calamities.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said a total of 170 tents will be donated to the 17 LGUs in the National Capital Region, along with equal number of power generators. Each tent has a size of 35 square meters.

Each LGU will be receiving 10 tents and 10 generators. The cities of San Juan, Muntinlupa, and Malabon have already received theirs, according to Tolentino.

"This is the start of our effort to help LGUs improve their disaster response and preparedness programs. They can use these multi-purpose tents as command and control centers, tent hospitals, and temporary shelters," the MMDA chief said.

Each dark olive drab Metro Manila Field Center tent can house up to 34 people and has sufficient space for equipment.

Powered by a generator, the waterproof tent can be erected in the most remote locations, from where rescue and response operations can be immediately controlled and coordinated.

The tents can also be utilized as first aid stations, temporary classrooms, first aid shelters or field hospitals where victims of disasters or calamities could be given immediate medical attention, Tolentino said.

Tolentino said the MMDA will continue training around 1,000 barangay officials and volunteers in each LGU as part of its Oplan Metro Yakal, the agency's comprehensive readiness plan for responding to earthquake and other calamities in the metropolis.

"More than providing them with necessary gear and equipment, it is more important that everyone knows what to do and where to go when a calamity strikes," he said.

The extensive disaster response training includes refresher courses on basic search and rescue, debris clearing, emergency communication and transport, traffic management and control, and relief and rehabilitation services, among others.

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APRIL 30, 2012

Bureau of Customs, Online Banking Stay Open on Labor Day to Accommodate Truck Ban

In response to the request of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Department of Finance (DOF) directed the Bureau of Customs to provide 24-hour service today (April 30) and tomorrow (May 1) to truckers and supply chain operators affected by the May 2 to 5 temporary daytime truck ban in Metro Manila.

The Finance Department also instructed banks to accept e-banking transactions and open their online operations for truckers during the Labor Day holiday.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Department of Finance, through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Transportation and Communications, through the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) agreed to conduct round-the-clock operations to accommodate truckers whose operations will slow down when the temporary truck ban takes effect.

The PPA, which manages the North and South Harbors, also agreed to waive demurrage or storage charges, overtime costs and other fees on containers affected by the daytime ban.

Tolentino expressed his gratitude to all partner government agencies, local government units, and various recognized trucking associations for being cooperative on the temporary truck ban.

The MMDA is enforcing the temporary total daytime truck ban during the four-day Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors annual meeting to decongest Metro Manila's major thoroughfares.

"The ADB meeting is an important platform to showcase Metro Manila, and the Philippines as a whole, as a viable economic, financial, and investment hub. That's why we need to ensure the smooth flow of traffic for the duration of the event," Tolentino said.

An alternate route for truckers travelling from the North and South Harbors to NLEX has been identified and is posted on the Agency's website

Further, the MMDA chief has requested the seventeen mayors of Metro Manila, Governor Jeorge Ejercito of Laguna Province and the mayors of Calamba, Carmona and Bacoor to extend leniency to the grounded trucks affected by the MMDA's temporary total daytime truck ban.

"One of the main concerns expressed by the truckers is their vulnerability to the imposition of fines and penalties for traffic violations such as illegal parking. That's why I have formally written the local chief executives of Metro Manila and neighboring cities such as Bacoor, Carmona, and Calamba, to be more tolerant and minimize the impact of this temporary but necessary traffic measure," Tolentino said.

Traffic officials and enforcers have been requested to ferry all affected trucks to appropriate waiting / parking areas for minimal traffic disruption.

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APRIL 27, 2012

MMDA Bares Alternate Routes for Trucks Covered by Temporary Daytime Truck Ban on May 2-5 ADB Conference

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today announced the alternate routes for trucks covered by the temporary daytime truck ban on May 2-5.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the alternate truck route could be utilized by trucks from May 2-5, from 4am to 9pm. This will be strictly implemented during the four-day Asian Development Bank (ADB) conference to be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Trucks coming from the North and South Harbors going to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) shall take A. Bonifacio and R-10 then right at C3 (Capulong) then straight to Sgt. Rivera Avenue (5th Avenue), then left at A. Bonifacio Avenue to NLEX, and vice versa. A map of this route is posted on the Agency's website

From May 2 to 5, the MMDA is enforcing a temporary total daytime truck ban to decongest Metro Manila's major thoroughfares during the four-day ADB Board of Governors annual meeting.

The MMDA Chief also pledged to assist the trucking associations in minimizing the effects of the temporary total daytime truck ban, such as requesting that the Philippine Ports Authority waive demurrage fees and other charges, local government units to be lenient in imposing fines and penalties to trucks grounded by the daytime ban and the Department of Finance to allow round-the-clock operations of the Bureau of Customs and banking sector during the days leading up to the May 2-5 ban.

During the daytime truck ban, the MMDA will be suspending the implementation of its uniform truck ban, which is from 6 am to 9 am, and 5 pm and 9 pm, which is in effect during the weekdays.

MMDA will resume the enforcement of the original truck ban starting May 6.

Tolentino said the daytime truck ban covers all large cargo and delivery trucks as provided by MMDA Resolution No. 07-05 Series of 2007.

Trucks that haul perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, sea foods, and ice, are exempted from the temporary day time truck ban provided they will not pass through the routes to be used by ADB delegates.

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APRIL 26, 2012

MMDA to enforce temporary daytime truck ban during ADB meet from May 2 to 5

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will implement a temporary daytime truck ban during the 45th Asian Development Bank (ADB) meeting from May 2 to 5.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the traffic scheme is aimed at decongesting Metro Manila's major thoroughfares during the four-day international conference.

Based on initial agreements with various truckers associations, the temporary modified truck ban hours are 4 am to 9 pm, from May 2 to 5.

During this period, the implementation of the MMDA's uniform truck ban which is 6 to 9 am and 5 to 9 pm except Sundays and holidays, will be suspended. The agency will resume the enforcement of the original truck ban starting May 6.

The daytime truck ban covers all large cargo and delivery trucks as provided by MMDA Resolution No. 07-05 Series of 2007.

Trucks that haul perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, sea foods, and ice, are exempted from the temporary day time truck ban provided they will not pass through the routes to be used by ADB delegates.

Tolentino promised to coordinate with the local governments of Pasig City, Quezon City, Taguig and Pateros to extend leniency and designate parking areas for trucks that would be effectively grounded during the modified truck ban hours.

The City of Manila, venue for most of the ADB activities, pledged to increase mobile patrol units to deter criminal elements who may attempt to sabotage the trucks during the 9pm to 4 am window hours.

The MMDA also promised to coordinate with the Philippine Ports Authority and the banking sector to allow the truckers to maximize operations and e-banking transactions for the days leading up to the May 2 to 5 period.

The 45th ADB Board of Governors Annual Meeting will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

About 4,000 local and foreign delegates, finance ministers, central bank governors, representatives from international organizations and private sector are expected to participate in the event.

"The country stands to gain a lot in economic terms if the hosting of this event proves to be a success, that's why we are doing our best to make the delegates' stay in the country comfortable and fruitful," Tolentino said.

Cargo truck operators have expressed support to the modified truck ban but asked MMDA to work out a way to secure their trucks and precious cargo against criminal elements such as hijackers.

The truckers' association said their trucks will have to be parked somewhere while the daytime truck ban is in effect, making them vulnerable to hijackers and robbers.

Tolentino said he will coordinate it with the Philippine National Police (PNP). He also agreed to provide leniency to parked trucks as long as they do not obstruct traffic flow.

"We will extend to them all necessary assistance while the temporary modified truck ban is being implemented," the MMDA chief said, adding that it is not the objective of the MMDA to disrupt the business operations of cargo and delivery trucks.

Tolentino thanked the leaders and representatives of the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Ports Authority, the Integrated North harbor Truckers Association, the Asia Cargo Container Line, Inc., the Philppine Liners Shipping Association, the Purt Users Confederation, the Philppine Automotive Federation, Inc., Air 21, the Confederation of truckers Association of the Philippines for their pledge of cooperation. "We could not do this without you," he said.

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APRIL 25, 2012

MMDA Unveils Streamlined Redemption Center

To provide additional convenience and comfort to the public, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has installed additional air con units in its redemption center.

According to Chairman Francis Tolentino, the continuous renovation and upgrade of the redemption center is aimed to encourage the public to settle their traffic fines and secure the necessary clearances personally, without having to resort to fixers.

"In the past, drivers often deal with fixers because of the long queue and the uncomfortable condition in the redemption area. But since its conversion into a one-stop shop in October 2010, fixers have been minimized, if not eliminated because the drivers are directly transacting with our personnel," Tolentino said.

In the previous years, the redemption area could only accommodate up to 300 transactions daily, mainly due to lack of manpower and efficient computerized system.

But when Tolentino assumed office in August 2010, he prioritized the overhaul of the redemption area to expedite transactions.

The office now has 76 personnel, with nine cashiers / collectors, from two previously, facilitating faster payment procedure.

At present, it can accommodate 550 to 600 transactions daily. Processing time for each transaction lasts from 30 minutes to one hour maximum.

The redemption center is open daily from Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 5pm. The public is allowed to enter the area as early as 7am so they can fill up the necessary application forms.

"There are plans to further expand the redemption area to maximize the services it provides," Tolentino said.

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APRIL 20, 2012

MMDA advises motorists of weekend road repairs

Chairman Francis Tolentino today advised motorists that DPWH will be undertaking repair and improvement works along various roads in Metro Manila for April's last weekend and recommended to take alternate routes.

Tolentino said that concrete reblocking, pothole patching and asphalt overlay activities by DPWH will occupy parts of EDSA and cities of Muntinlupa, Manila, Quezon, Makati and Mandaluyong from April 20, 10 PM to 23, 2012, 6 AM. The Chairman, however, limited the roadwork activities permitted in EDSA, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Metro Manila.

"The concrete reblocking in EDSA-Quezon City will be rescheduled so as not to agitate traffic build-up since another reblocking is on-going in Boni Serrano Avenue, a nearby road," he explained.

In Muntinlupa: Daang Maharlika, cor. Montinllano St., Chainage 0+000 to 0+142, Chainage 0+000 to 0+245 and K0026+(-1036) to K0026 to+(-500) (reblocking), April 20-23

In Manila: R. Magsaysay Blvd., Sampaloc, Phases I-IV and M. Roxas Bridge (rotomilling), España Blvd. - Corola to Welcome Rotunda, Sampaloc, A.H. Lacson - Both sides Rotunda to Maria Clara, Nagtahan Flyover - R. Magsaysay Blvd. to Rulloba St., Bonifacio Drive - Anda Circle to 2nd St. and P. Quirino Avenue - South Superhighway to P.M. Guanzon Southbound and South Superhighway to P.M. (asphalt overlay), Ayala Blvd. - Taft Avenue to Marcelino St. and South Superhighway - Zobel Roxas St. to Quirino Avenue Southbound (reblocking), April 20-22

In Quezon City: EDSA - Congressional to Fema Road Northbound, 3rd lane and Bansalangin to West Avenue, Southbound, 3rd lane, A. Bonifacio Avenue - Sto. Cristo Northbound 1st Lane Sta. 8+600 to 8+690 and between Sto. Domingo and Mauban St., Araneta Avenue - between Mauban and Del Monte Ave. Southbound 2nd lane, Fairview Avenue - Fairlane to Camaro Northbound and Southbound 2nd lane, Boni Serrano Avenue - between 8th and 6th St. and 1st and Gate 3 (reblocking), April 20-23

In Makati City: Pasong Tamo Avenue between Don Bosco and Sabio Southbound, Centerlane (reblocking), April 20-23

In Mandaluyong City: EDSA - between Madison St. and United Northbound, and Pinatubo and Starmall, Southbound (reblocking), April 20-23

As for potholes patching: April 21 - Ortigas (C. Raymundo-Santolan). April 22 - R10 Road (Pacheco-C2 Road), C2 Road (Quezon-Velasquez) and Santolan (Ortigas-N. Domingo).

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APRIL 14, 2012

MMDA to Launch Metro Traffic Watch Program

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will soon involve local communities, particularly private residents, in managing traffic in their respective areas.

Under a project called the Metro Traffic Watch Program, MMDA will be enlisting the help of barangays, homeowners associations, traffic experts and academicians, NGOs, and civic organizations in ensuring the smooth flow of traffic in secondary roads and inner streets of Metro Manila.

"Traffic management should not be the sole job of the government. It is everybody's responsibility. Mobilizing city residents who are familiar with the terrain of their respective localities in such meaningful endeavor will be of great help to the MMDA," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said.

In establishing the community-based system, Tolentino said the MMDA will engage barangay officials, school and university officials, traffic engineers, residents, as well as village associations, and students, in a series of consultations and dialogues to determine how they would go about solving traffic problems in their jurisdictions.

The Metro Traffic Watch Program primarily aims to train and deputize Community Traffic Aides (CTAs) to help improve traffic management in a given period of time.

Community Traffic Aides will undergo training on traffic enforcement and be acquainted with traffic rules and regulations at the MMDA's Traffic Academy in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Tolentino said the program is more or less patterned after the MMDA's Flood Control Bayanihan Zone Alliance (FCBZA), an organization of community leaders, barangay officials, volunteers, and residents tasked to be the first responders in the event of flooding and other natural disasters in their community.

"This is like a neighborhood watch- residents watching their backyards and addressing traffic concerns as it happen," the MMDA chief said, stressing the importance of public involvement in managing traffic and coming up with temporary and permanent solutions to congestion.

In close coordination with village leaders, the MMDA will also work out a scheme to utilize private subdivision roads for a certain period of time, and when the need arises, such as during typhoons, Tolentino added.

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APRIL 3, 2012

MMDA Releases Alternate Routes for Holy Week

Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today advised motorists to avoid some portions of Pasig City and the Quiapo area during the Holy Week, in anticipation of heavy traffic during traditional Lenten processions.

"The public is advised to steer away from the said areas particularly on dates when Holy Week processions will be held, as these might cause heavy traffic," Tolentino said.


The Traffic and Parking Management Office of Pasig City has already announced the closure of various roads on March 30, April 2, 4, 6, and 8 to give way to the citywide Holy Week processions.

As this developed, MMDA strongly urges the public to take alternate routes as follows:

  • From rotunda from Pasig Mega Market - take F. Manalo street, left to E. Angeles street, left to C. Raymundo Avenue to destination.
  • From San Joaquin / B. Bayan from Pasig Mega Market - take Balderrama street, right to F. Antonio street, left to Pio Alvarez street, to cross Kalawaan Bridge, right to Elisco Road to destination.
  • To Pasig Mega Market from B. Bayan / San Joaquin - take Elisco Road, left to M. Jimenez street, to cross Kalawaan Bridge, left to F. Antonio street, right to F. Manalo street, right to Caruncho Avenue to destination.
  • To Crossing / Quiapo from B. Bayan / San Joaquin - take M. Concepcion street, right to C-5 Road to destination.
  • To Marikina from B. Bayan / San Joaquin - take R. Jabson street, to cross Bambang Bridge, left to E. Santos street, right to Lopez Jaena street, to cross Sta. Rosa De Lima Bridge to destination.
  • To San Joaquin / B. Bayan from rotunda - take C-5 Road, u-turn at Kalayaan, right to San Guillermo street, straight to M. Concepcion street, to destination.
  • To Pasig Mega Market from rotunda - take C. Raymundo Avenue, right to Mercedes Avenue, right to Market Avenue to destination.


Meanwhile, traffic is expected to be heavy in the vicinity of Quiapo from April 1 to 8 for scheduled Lenten activities such as the Stations of the Cross, Easter vigil, Procession of the Black Nazarene on the morning of Good Friday (April 6), Procession of Santo Entierro and Mater Dolorosa at 5 pm of Good Friday, and capped by the "Salubong" on Easter Sunday.

Motorists are advised to take the following alternate routes:
  • From A. Mendoza to Baclaran - take Quezon Boulevard fly-over then take Quezon Boulevard Service Road, right to C.M. Recto, left Rizal Avenue, to destination.
  • From España to Baclaran - take Morayta, left C.M. Recto towards Legarda, then right Legarda towards Ayala Boulevard to Taft Avenue to destination.
  • From España to Baclaran (2nd alternate route) - take Morayta, right C.M. Recto towards Rizal Avenue, then left Rizal Avenue towards McArthur Bridge to destination.
  • From Baclaran to España - take Ayala Boulevard towards Legarda, straight to Bustillos, left Earnshaw towards H. Loyola, then right to Loyola, left A.H. Lacson, right to España.


Likewise, motorists are advised to take alternate routes going to Antipolo, particularly on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, as thousands are expected to join the annual "Alay Lakad" or the pilgrimage leading to the Antipolo Church.

Vehicles going to Antipolo may take the following alternate routes:
  • Along Ortigas to Antipolo - left turn at Imelda Avenue towards Marcos Highway, then right to Marcos Highway all the way to Sumulong Highway, then right Sumulong Highway to Antipolo.
  • Along EDSA to Antipolo - right turn at Aurora Boulevard, towards Marcos Highway, all the way to Sumulong Highway, then right to Sumulong Highway to Antipolo.
  • Along C-5 to Antipolo - Right turn Ortigas Avenue, then left at Imelda Avenue towards Marcos Highway, then right to Marcos Highway all the way to Sumulong Highway, then right to Sumulong Highway to Antipolo.
The MMDA chief appealed to the public to plan their trips accordingly, especially with the early suspension of the number coding scheme, and to cooperate with the traffic enforcers and other authorities to achieve a safe, convenient, and meaningful Lent.

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APRIL 2, 2012

MMDA rolls out Mobile Metrobase

To further enhance its extensive traffic monitoring systems, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today rolled out its Mobile Metrobase, a mobile command and communications van capable of reaching far-flung areas in Metro Manila and providing real-time traffic surveillance footages.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Mobile Metrobase will enable the agency's Command Center in Guadalupe, Makati City to monitor blind spots, or areas where the MMDA has no active closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs).

For the Holy Week exodus, the van will be deployed at Metro Manila exit points to monitor traffic to provinces.

"This is a high-tech, highly mobile command and communications center that can be deployed anywhere, 24/7 for traffic and disaster monitoring operations. This will be our eyes and ears to areas our CCTVs and personnel cannot immediately reach," Tolentino said.

Using a converted Hyundai Starex van, the Mobile Metrobase is equipped with four CCTV monitors and a high-resolution camera at its roof. It can record and relay video footages through Wifi, to the MMDA Command Center in Makati City.

The surveillance van has three highly-trained technician-operators directly in communication with the main command center and the Flood Control Information Center (FCIC). It has its own portable power generator for emergency purposes.

The mobile command unit has a range of seven kilometers from the nearest MMDA base station, effectively extending the reach of the MMDA's 55 CCTVs currently in operation.

Tolentino said the Mobile Metrobase will be useful not only in traffic monitoring but also for emergency and security surveillance operations, especially during mass demonstrations such as transport strikes.

"The Mobile Metrobase will serve as our active to link to remote locations in the metropolis, making it easier to provide assistance and service to the public," the MMDA chief said.

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APRIL 2, 2012

MMDA Head Calls for Summer Interns

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino is on the lookout for young (aged 17-25) summer interns to work in various MMDA divisions, in line with the Agency's Special Program for the Education of Students (SPES).

"We are doing this because we want the students to learn how to appreciate what MMDA has done and is doing," Tolentino said. "Government service is difficult. People will always question the motives of government servants. But I assure you, there are good and committed people in government. At the MMDA you will learn about urban planning, green governance, climate change and traffic management," said Tolentino, who heads one of the busiest government agencies.

Positions are open for engineering assistants, planning assistants, environmental compliance aides, computer operators, public relations assistants, public service assistants, records clerks and community service assistants.

Tolentino pointed out that despite the low pay and long hours working in the Agency entails, he successfully recruited two magna cum laude graduates from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Meagan Michelle Alegado was a full scholar majoring in Political Science, while Ria Rubia was an English Studies major. Both ladies are detailed with the Office of the Chairman after training with the Agency's Planning Division, which is headed by another UP scholar, Director Josefina T. Faulan.

Tolentino himself has earned several graduate degrees and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in International Environmental Law from the Tulane University Law School.

Applicants should be from 17 - 25 years old. The combined net income after tax of a candidate's parents, including the candidates' own income if any, should not exceed Php 128,000.00 per annum, and he should have received an average passing grade during the last scholastic term.

Applicants should submit a duly accomplished application form, a copy of his birth certificate or proof of birth, certification by his school registrar as to last enrolment and average grade, copy of latest ITR of parents and for out-of-school youth, a certificate of good moral character from the barangay chairperson of his place of residence.

Application forms may be downloaded here and should be submitted together with requirements no later than April 12, 2012 to Dir. Lydia Domingo, Administrative Services, 3rd Floor, MMDA Bldg., EDSA Cor., Orense St., Guadalupe, Makati City.

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MARCH 29, 2012

No Let-up in Anti-Colorum Drive during Holy Week, MMDA Says

Even during the Holy Week, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will continue apprehending colorum vehicles along Edsa and other major thoroughfares.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said they will not tolerate colorum operations during Holy Week as there are enough legitimate public utility vehicles (PUVs) to ferry commuters.

"There will be no letup. In fact, we will intensify our anti-colorum operations during the Holy Week break. Colorum vehicles have no right to compete with duly franchised PUVs," the MMDA chief warned.

Tolentino noted that colorum operators usually take advantage of the Holy Week vacation because of the high number of commuters trekking to the provinces.

According to Tolentino, a sufficient number of traffic constables will be stationed along major thoroughfares not only to ensure the smooth flow of traffic but also to look out for colorum AUVs, buses, and even taxicabs.

Colorum operation carries a fine of P6,000, six months' impoundment and suspension of driver's license.

"We will have sufficient number of traffic personnel in the streets," Tolentino assured the public.

The MMDA chief advised motorists to take advantage of the week-long suspension of the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), from April 2 to 9 to use their own vehicles.

The MMDA, he added, will continue working with the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board, the Land Transportation Office, Philippine National Police, and other related agencies to apprehend colorum PUVs and assist motorists and commuters throughout the Holy Week. The Agency will honor the special LTFRB permits granted to public utility buses during the Holy Week season to accommodate the high number of commuters.

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MARCH 28, 2012

MMDA Chairman Announces Week-long Suspension of Number Coding

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino today (March 28) announced that the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), commonly known as the number coding system would be lifted from Monday, April 2 to Monday April 9.

Anticipating traffic congestion caused by the customary Holy Week exodus and the influx of motorists on Easter Sunday and Monday, the MMDA Chief said the lifting of the coding ban would promote fast and efficient travel to and from Metropolitan Manila. Tolentino added that with the ongoing summer break, traffic impact by the lifting would be minimized.

Tolentino last Friday (March 23) activated Oplan Metro Alalay Semana Santa 2012, or MASS 2012.

The MMDA chief reiterated his assurance that the agency's traffic personnel will be on hand to assist motorists and commuters. The public can also call Metrobase Hotline 136 for periodic traffic updates and requests for assistance.

The MMDA's Facebook and Twitter account will be also be open 24/7 during the Holy Week to accept and respond to inquiries. Tolentino advised the public to avoid EDSA during Holy Wednesday and Holy Thursday as much as possible and instead use alternate routes known as the Mabuhay Lanes as follows:

The Mabuhay 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.

Motorists coming from the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) can exit at various points, most importantly at the newly constructed Mindanao Avenue access ramp.

From South to North, the Mabuhay lanes start at Coastal Road and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

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MARCH 26, 2012

MMDA Chairman Activates Oplan Metro Alalay Semana Santa 2012

Anticipating traffic congestion caused by the customary Holy Week exodus and the influx of motorists on Easter Sunday and Monday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis N. Tolentino last Friday (March 23) activated Oplan Metro Alalay Semana Santa 2012, or MASS 2012.

The MMDA in coordination with various agencies, last year created Oplan M.A.S.S. to ensure the safe and convenient movement of motorists and commuters during Holy Week, particularly in areas identified as convergence points of travelers such as provincial bus terminals, airports, and seaports. Owing to its success, the plan will be re-implemented for this year's Holy Week observance.

Oplan MASS 2012 will be headed by MMDA Assistant General Manager for Operations Atty. Emerson Carlos, with Traffic Discipline Office OIC Atty. Yves Gonzalez as Assistant Head. Atty. Carlos confirmed a "No Day-Off and No Absent" Policy on Holy Wednesday and Thursday, as well as on Easter Sunday and Monday.

On Holy Monday, April 2, up to Holy Wednesday, April 4, MMDA traffic enforcers will be posted at transport terminals and traffic choke points, and at popular churches and pilgrimage sites on Maundy Thursday, April 5, and Good Friday, April 6.

Command posts will be set up at the South Luzon and North Luzon Expressway entry points from Holy Monday to early morning of Maundy Thursday, then from Black Saturday to Easter Sunday.

The Agency's Traffic Discipline Office will seek assistance from the PNP-NCRPO and PNP-HPG at traffic choke points to increase police visibility and prevent acts of terrorism, assist in apprehending traffic violators and ease traffic congestion. The Agency will also coordinate with the AFP, DPWH, DOTC/ LTFRB/ LTO, local traffic bureau chiefs and Bureau of Fire Protection and Fire Volunteer Groups.

Tolentino added that the Agency's Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group (SCOG) and Parking Discipline Office (PDO) teams will assist traffic enforcers in managing traffic in major roads and critical areas.

The MMDA chief assured that the agency's traffic personnel will be on hand to assist motorists and commuters. The public can also call Metrobase Hotline 136 for periodic traffic updates and requests for assistance.

The MMDA's Facebook and Twitter account will be also be open 24/7 during the Holy Week to accept and respond to inquiries.

Tolentino advised the public to avoid EDSA during Holy Wednesday and Holy Thursday as much as possible and instead use alternate routes known as the Mabuhay Lanes as follows:

The Mabuhay 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.

Motorists coming from the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) can exit at various points, most importantly at the newly constructed Mindanao Avenue access ramp.

From South to North, the Mabuhay lanes start at Coastal Road and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

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MARCH 26, 2012

MMDA Chairman Outfits EDSA TEs for Summer Weather

To alleviate the discomfort and potential health hazards posed by the summer heat, MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino last Friday (March 23) ordered that members of the Agency's EDSA 500 traffic constables utilize the "Type C" uniform consisting of MMDA short pants with blue regular uniform with necktie, regular low-cut or rubber shoes and protective headgear.

The Agency's graveyard shift Task Force Takip Silim will don the same uniform, but unlike the EDSA 500, they will wear a standard blue shirt with collar and cap.

Tolentino explained that this measure is a practical way to welcome the summer season, and is also practiced by the Hong Kong traffic police. "We want to promote the spirit of fitness and the culture of public assistance inculcated in organizations like the Boy Scouts," he added.

The summer uniform shall be used until May 27.

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MARCH 19, 2012

MMDA to Launch Cleanest Barangay Search

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will launch the Search for the Cleanest and Best in Solid Waste Management Barangay tomorrow (Tuesday) at the MMDA Grounds in Makati City.

The contest, in partnership with the Metro Manila Mayors' Spouses Foundation, Inc. (MMMSFI), aims to encourage all barangays in the metropolis to maintain and sustain cleanliness in their areas.

Chairman Francis Tolentino will deliver the keynote message during the program which will start at 8:30 in the morning.

"This contest will boost our efforts of keeping Metro Manila clean and green. I am optimistic that all the barangays, through the leadership of the barangay captains, will accept the challenge and strengthen their respective cleanliness programs not only for the prestige but more so for the health and sanitation of their communities," Tolentino said.

1,705 barangays of Metro Manila are automatically covered by the search. They will be grouped into four categories, depending on their land area and income.

Category A shall include barangays with land area of 300 to 500 hectares and an income of P35 million and above; Category B shall include barangays with land area of 100 to 299 hectares and income of P20 to 35 million; barangays with land area of 1 to 99 hectares and income of P19 million below shall comprise Category C; village-barangays or villages in barangays that are self-governing will be grouped in Category D.

The criteria for judging include the absence of all kinds of litters / garbage along sidewalks, streets, drains, esteros, and canals; adoption of a city / municipal ordinance on anti-littering / illegal dumping; apprehension of litterbugs; and compliance of the provisions of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

RA 9003 provides a systematic and comprehensive ecological solid waste management program which aims to ensure the protection of public health and the environment, among others.

There will be two elimination rounds; the initial elimination will cover the months of April to June, while the second elimination will cover the months of July to September. The final round will be held on October, with the results known by October 31.

An executive committee composed of officials from the MMDA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), non-government organizations, and members of the academe will act as board of jurors.

One winner will be selected for each category, with a cash prize of P1 million and plaque of recognition to be awarded on November 7, during the celebration of MMDA's anniversary.

Expected to attend the event tomorrow are the seventeen mayors of Metro Manila with their respective spouses, General Tristan Kison of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-National Capital Region Command, and representatives from DENR, NSWMC, and local government units.

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MARCH 5, 2012

MMDA to Launch Metro Manila Green Print 2030

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will launch tomorrow (Tuesday), March 6, the Metro Manila Green Print 2030, a comprehensive urban development program that aims to transform the metropolis into a highly-competitive and progressive region.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Green Print program will serve as the roadmap of the government and private stakeholders to further develop Metro Manila's economic potentials and make it at par with the most urbanized metropolitan areas in the world.

"While Metro Manila propels the economy of the Philippines, its performance lags behind many competing Asian cities. We need to have an in-depth and multi-faceted plan to identify Metro Manila's potentials for development and implement it with the close participation of national and local governments, the private sector, and other key stakeholders," Tolentino said.

Along with officials of World Bank and mayor-members of the Metro Manila Council and heads of national government agencies, Tolentino will lead the formal launch of the Metro Manila Green Print 2030 at 10 am tomorrow at the Edsa-Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

Guests include Motoo Konishi, World Bank country director and Dr. Douglas Webster, visiting professor of the National University of Singapore, who will conduct a workshop entitled "Metro Manila's Future: What Can We Learn from the Global Metropolis Experience?"

Supported by World Bank, Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) and urban poverty reduction advocate Cities Alliance, the Metro Manila Green Print 2030 identifies key factors that will contribute to Metro Manila's improvement as an urban system.

These include economic clustering, neighborhood scale development, overall physical structure, and transportation access, which the MMDA believes will unleash Metro Manila's considerable latent economic potential and human talent.

Tolentino said the development process is meant to be "transformational", raising awareness of Metro Manila's development options, identifying key initiatives and investments that can leverage the region's potential, and systematically translating the strategy into a structural plan.

"This structural plan will guide the actions of the region's local governments and key stakeholders, including the private sector, national government, and the civil society," the MMDA chief explained.

Phase 1 of the program will commence with the workshop tomorrow. To be completed by May, the objective of Phase 1 is to raise awareness among stakeholders with regards to global best practices and approaches to enhance metropolitan competitiveness, livability, and sustainability.

Tolentino said four additional workshops will be held in the coming weeks, which will result in a long-term Vision for the Manila Metropolis that will be embodied in a structural plan to be formulated in Phase 2.

Phase 2, to start in June, involves the formulation of the metropolitan strategy/structural plan to position the Extended Manila Metropolitan Region for transformational development until 2030.

"Formulation of the strategy will be undertaken in close collaboration with key stakeholders, ensuring 'buy in' and a higher probability of implementation," Tolentino stressed.

"We hope to become a highly competitive East Asian metropolis sustainably delivering higher standards of living to its residents," he added.

With an estimated daytime population of 14 million, Metro Manila, composed of 16 cities and one municipality, is the most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines and the 11th in the world.

Metro Manila is the financial, commercial and industrial center of the country, accounting for 33 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

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FEBRUARY 29, 2012

Single ticketing in Metro Manila starts March 1

Starting tomorrow (March 1), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the 17 local government units of Metro Manila will issue a common traffic ticket known as the Uniform Ordinance Violation Receipt (UOVR) in their respective jurisdictions, the first step toward imposing common fines and penalties within the metropolitan area.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said this measure implements the Agency's mandate under its charter to institute a single ticketing system in Metro Manila.

"Transport groups have been asking for single ticketing since 1995. We are grateful for the support and cooperation of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and the Metro Manila mayors in finally resolving this matter," Tolentino said.

The UOVR will be launched tomorrow (March 1) at 11 am at the MMDA office in Makati City. Mayors, local traffic bureau chiefs, Land Transportation Office (LTO) officials and leaders of public transport organizations are expected to attend the launch.

Tomorrow's launch follows President Aquino's approval of a proposal of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) to implement a uniform ticketing system in the National Capital Region.

The MMC unanimously approved on January 26 the establishment of a system of interconnectivity among the LGUs and government bodies involved in traffic management.

Tolentino said the new UOVR bears the logos of the MMDA and the 17 LGUs in the NCR and is designed to be tamper-proof.

Under the single ticketing policy, MMDA, LGU and LTO traffic enforcers will honor and recognize the UOVRs issued by other LGUs, enabling apprehended motorists to use their tickets as temporary driver's license.

Tolentino stressed that the issuance of one UOVR for a particular offense would not bar the issuance of a second UOVR for another. "An apprehension for obstruction in one city will not bar the issuance of a second, or even succeeding UOVRs if subsequently the motorist is caught committing other traffic violations," he explained.

Motorists will have seven days to pay the fine imposed at any Metrobank branch. For LGU-issued UOVRs, violators will have five days to settle fines and redeem their license in the city where the apprehension took place.

Tolentino said the MMDA and the Metro Manila mayors will next formulate a uniform set of traffic fines and penalties.

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FEBRUARY 17, 2012

MMDA and Metro Local Government Units Intensify Anti-Smoking Campaign

MMDA Chairman Francis N. Tolentino and the seventeen Metro Manila local government units have intensified their anti-smoking campaign, even in the wake of an injunction issued by a Mandaluyong judge against the MMDA.

As of February 15 the MMDA apprehended a total of 20,525 smokers, 19,349 of which are male and 1,176 of which are female. The Agency started its campaign in earnest last July 1, 2011 following a month-long information drive.

Last October, Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Judge Carlos Valenzuela enjoined the Agency from enforcing the campaign in places not covered by the anti-smoking law. He recently denied the Agency's motion for reconsideration.

"The court order is clear. It says that the MMDA could not enforce the No Smoking campaign in areas that are not covered by the law," said Tolentino. "All our actions - including the ones complained of in the anti-smoking case - are within the metes and bounds of the law."

The City of Paranaque on its part, recently issued implementing guidelines that ban smoking in places of public worship, inside museums, libraries, theaters, auditoriums and coliseums, groceries, supermarket and convenience stores, markets and public comfort rooms and outposts - in addition to those already covered by the law.

The City of Marikina on the other hand staged the youth concert "One Voice Against Tobacco Smoke: Tsugi Kas Sa Yosi" last weekend to encourage young people to adopt a tobacco-free lifestyle.

A second "Kick the Habit Campaign: Run & Love a Healthy Lifestyle" will be held on February 26 at the ULTRA, Pasig City. Actors Cesar Montano, Alvin Anson, Roxanne Barcelo and other personalities are expected to participate in the event, organized in cooperation with the city governments of Pasig and Mandaluyong, the Department of Health, the Philippine Sports Commission and the MMDA.

Republic Act No. 9211 absolutely bans smoking in public places such as centers of youth activity, elevators and stairwells, locations where fire hazards are present, within the building and premises of hospitals, clinics, health centers, nursing homes, dispensaries and laboratories, in public conveyances and food preparation areas. It also requires the designation of smoking and non-smoking areas in enclosed places open to the general public, public and private workplaces and other places where smoking is not absolutely prohibited but where smoking may expose a person other than the smoker to tobacco smoke.

The MMDA designated smoking and non-smoking areas in public vehicle loading and unloading bays. The Agency enforces the total smoking ban on stairwells such as those on pedestrian footbridges.

"Our unified campaign has raised public awareness on the pernicious effects of smoking," Tolentino added, noting that local government units outside the metropolitan area also initiated their own anti-smoking programs soon after the MMDA started its no smoking apprehensions.

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FEBRUARY 17, 2012

Smooth Implementation of MMDA's EDSA Motorcycle Blue Lane

Since the start of the dry run of the Edsa motorcycle lane last Tuesday, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recorded no motorcycle-related accident along the 23.8-kilometer thoroughfare.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said this bodes well for promoting road safety in Metro Manila's major thoroughfares.

"There has been a smooth implementation of the EDSA blue lane since Tuesday. Hopefully it will stay this way. This also shows that our riders and motorists are aware of the program," Tolentino said.

From February 14 to 17, a total of 3,344 violators were apprehended by MMDA traffic enforcers and made to undergo a 15-minute seminar on safe motorcycle driving.

Tolentino said there has been a steady decrease in the number of violators since Tuesday, an indication of increasing compliance among motorcycle riders.

On the first day of the dry run, 1,403 violators were apprehended; 855 on Wednesday, and 692 on Thursday. As of 11 am today, there have been 394 violators.

Starting Monday, Tolentino said they will be issuing traffic violation receipts to violators.

Riders with no helmets and proper safety gear will also be apprehended and fined, including those using mobile phones while driving, the MMDA chief added.

"We will also not tolerate overloading. Based on LTO regulations, a motorcycle should only have one passenger, a back seater. We will also be implementing the rule where motorcycle headlights should be on even during daylight," Tolentino said.

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FEBRUARY 10, 2012

MMDA to Implement EDSA Motorcycle Lanes on February 14

Starting February 14 (Tuesday), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will enforce the use of motorcycle lanes along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa).

According to Chairman Francis Tolentino, a one week dry-run will be observed. Violators will not be issued traffic violation tickets but will be required to undergo a 15-minute road safety seminar at designated areas such as Roxas Boulevard, Orense, White Plains, Timog, and Quezon Avenue.

Heart-shaped stickers bearing the MMDA logo and the phrases "Certified Motorcycle Riders" and "Disiplinado Ako" will be given to apprehended riders who complete the seminar.

The designated motorcycle lane shall be the fourth lane from the right sidewalk and shall run the length of Edsa from Monumento, Caloocan City to SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, and vice versa.

The lanes are "non-exclusive", which means that private vehicles may also use them.

"I am appealing to the private motorists using the motorcycle lanes to observe maximum tolerance for motorcycle riders to avoid any accident," Tolentino said.

The establishment of the Edsa motorcycle lanes is based on Memorandum Circular 12-01 Series of 2012 approved by the Metro Manila Council last month.

Tolentino said the implementation of the motorcycle lanes is necessary to promote a more orderly flow of traffic along the major thoroughfare and reduce the number of fatal accidents involving motorcycles.

Motorcycle riders may deviate from the motorcycle lanes when making a turn or u-turn at authorized intersections and u-turn slots, in which case they are to gradually shift lanes not less than 200 meters away from the turning point, while making the appropriate signals.

Latest statistics show the number of motorcycles traversing Edsa daily was 6,559 for the northbound lane and 5,173 for the southbound lane, representing a 19% from 2010.

Last year, the Authority also implemented similar motorcycle lanes along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City and Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay and Parañaque City.

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FEBRUARY 10, 2012

MMDA holds second earthquake drill for "Oplan Metro Yakal"

At least 4,000 employees and volunteers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will gather once again at the Quirino Grandstand on Sunday, February 12, for an extensive earthquake drill and disaster response training under the agency's contingency plan "Oplan Metro Yakal."

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino will lead the 5 am assembly and mobilization of the MMDA Task Force Rainbow, which is initially composed of 3,000 MMDA personnel and 1,000 volunteers from various barangays and associations of fire brigades and rescue organizations.

"This is a practice drill to prepare everybody on what to do and where to go in case a massive earthquake occurs. It is our mandate to be the first responders. We want to be ready all the time," said Tolentino, who concurrently chairs the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee (MMDRRMC).

This is the second year of the MMDA's Oplan Metro Yakal, an earthquake contingency plan carefully crafted to be carried out in case a severe tremor hit Metro Manila.

The plan is anchored on two components: the preparedness and utilization of government resources, including those of national government agencies belonging to the MMDRRMC and those of the private organizations.

Tolentino said the MMDA employees and volunteers will undergo refresher courses on basic search and rescue, debris clearing, emergency communication and transport, traffic management and control, and relief and rehabilitation services, among others.

The participants will be divided by four color-coded sectors - North (Red), East (Orange), West (Green), and South (Blue), with each employee/rescuer to be assigned to the area near his or her place of residence.

The North sector includes Malabon, Caloocan, Valenzuela, and Quezon City; Marikina, Pasig, San Juan in the East; Manila, Navotas, and Pasay compose the West; and the South - Las Pinas, Taguig, Makati, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Paranaque and Pateros.

Tolentino said all sectors will have a pre-designated staging area or base camps from which rescuers would report in case of an earthquake disaster. Each sector will be led by a task force assistant commander.

The North sector will have the Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Quezon City as its staging area; Wack Wack Golf Course in Mandaluyong City for the East; Intramuros Golf Course for the West, and Villamor Airbase Golf Course for the South.

"After the drill, each employee-rescuer will report to his or her assigned sector. This will simulate how they will assemble at their designated base camps in case an earthquake occurs during nighttime, weekends, or holidays," Tolentino said.

If an earthquake takes place during regular office hours, the Task Force Rainbow will assemble at the MMDA main office in Makati City, from where they will be deployed to areas that need immediate critical assistance, Tolentino added.

The MMDA has patterned the structural organization of each sector after its Flood Control Bayanihan Zone Alliance (FCBZA), a community-based monitoring and response units established in flood-prone areas of the metropolis.

"We will be forming several Earthquake Bayanihan Zone Alliances to cover the whole of Metro Manila, which we have divided into four sectors," Tolentino said.

By March, the MMDA chief said they will also start training barangay officials and volunteers in disaster response to enable them to assist their communities when the need arises.

"Oplan Metro Yakal deals solely with disaster preparedness and how to carry our specific essential services during the response stage," Tolentino said, adding that the plan is supportive to the Disaster Preparedness and Response Plans of the 17 local government units of Metro Manila.

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FEBRUARY 7, 2012

MMDA Chairman Sends 15-Man Team to Dumaguete

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino is sending a highly-trained 15-man rescue team to Dumaguete City today (February 7) to assist victims of the earthquake that shook the Western Visayas region yesterday (February 6).

Barely a day after the deadly temblor rocked the region, the MMDA chief assembled the crack team which leaves today via a Philippine Airforce C-130 plane. The team will stay for at least 6 days, returning on Monday, February 13.

The MMDA team is composed of personnel trained both here and abroad in structural collapse search and rescue, and emergency medical assistance. Several team members handled rescue operations in Alaminos, Pangasinan, Kalibo, Aklan, Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Iligan and Calumpit, Bulacan.

The team will be equipped with digging and demolition tools, search cameras, first aid kits, tents, a mobile kitchen and safety gear. The team will also bring a 2-ton water treatment facility to generate potable water for the earthquake victims, a motorcycle, a truck and an ambulance.

Last December, the MMDA Chairman had sent trained MMDA personnel to render rescue and relief operations in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City in the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong.

Tolentino formed the team immediately after a briefing on the earthquake held this morning at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council at Camp Aguinaldo.

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FEBRUARY 6, 2012

MMDA starts quarterly "Estero Blitz"

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today collected several truckloads of garbage from the esteros in Tondo, Manila as it resumed its "Estero Blitz" program, the extensive cleanup of creeks and other waterways in Metro Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino led this morning the resumption of cleanup and dredging operations at the heavily-silted Estero De Vitas and Estero Kabulusan in Pritil District, Tondo, as he called on the local community to do their part by keeping their surroundings clean.

"We hope we can help each other in this cleanup activity. The simplest contribution is to stop the indiscriminate dumping of litter and use of plastic which clog our waterways," the MMDA chief said.

The Estero Blitz, first launched last August, is the daily cleanup of esteros, creeks, and drainages in flood-prone areas in Metro Manila with the objective of preventing floods during the rainy season.

For this month's drive, the MMDA will devote at least 500 personnel from the Flood Control Management and Sewerage Office, Metro Parkway Clearing Group, and Solid Waste Management Office, among others.

Also, the MMDA Chair met with several barangay chairmen of Tondo and in a dialogue with them, encouraged them to pass barangay ordinances banning the use of plastic materials.

Tolentino said Estero Blitz II will be done every quarter. This February, the agency is targeting nine esteros, five creeks, and two rivers in the cities of Manila, Makati, Pasay, Paranaque and Muntinlupa with a total length of 31.914 kilometers.

"We hope to cover 129 barangays this month for 18 days. Like our August EsteroBlitz, this daily cleanup will be extensive," Tolentino said.

In Manila, eight esteros will be cleaned up. These include Estero De Vitas, Dela Reina, Kabulusan, Valencia, De San Sebastian, De Quiapo, San Antonio Abad, and Estero de Pandacan, which cover 78 barangays with a total length of 12.74 kilometers.

From February 15 to 17, the cleanup will shift to Makati/Manila and Pasay, particularly at Estero Tripa De Gallina and Sta. Clara Creek. These two waterways cover 43 barangays and measure 3.77 kilometers.

The rest of this month's cleanup schedule is as follows; Cut Cut and Sto. Nino creeks in Pasay (Feb. 20-21); Kay Boboy and Sapang Buwaya creeks in Paranaque City (Feb. 22-24); and Pasong Diablo and Bayanan rivers in Muntinlupa City (Feb. 27-29).

"Our target is to clean and dredge at least 1.7 kilometers of waterways a day," Tolentino said.

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JANUARY 31, 2012

MMDA Chairman Asks Young Inventors to Build Robot Traffic Enforcer

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis N. Tolentino asked an award-winning team of young inventors to build a robot traffic enforcer that could detect traffic violators without human intervention.

The high school team from Dr. Yanga's Colleges, Inc. (DYCI) in Bocaue, Bulacan was honored during the Authority's Monday morning flag ceremony. Their award-winning invention, a robot named MAGIS can detect floods, body temperature and blood pressure among others. It was exhibited to MMDA officers and staff. The robot had garnered for the team a fourth place award in the annual World Robot Olympiad (WRO) held recently in Abu Dhabi.

At a breakfast meeting hosted afterwards by the MMDA Chief, Tolentino challenged the team, composed of Romyr Gimeno, Chelsea Morales, Alexandra Mae Guevarra, Claire Receli Renosa and coach Beryl Cruz, to create a Robot Traffic Enforcer for the Agency that would be stationed at traffic signalized intersections. The Robot Enforcer would detect motorists who jump traffic lights and commit other infractions. He pledged full support to the team for this endeavor.

"The Philippines is slated to become one of the world's top economies by the Year 2050. We will get there through the genius, hard work and skill of young people like you," Tolentino said.

Coach Beryl Cruz said the team was currently working on a robot that can detect "botcha" or double-dead meat. The "botcha" robot could be used at public markets or slaughterhouses and may be the team's entry to another international competition.

Cruz said that DYCI's principal, Mr. Michael S. Yanga, promised that they would work with Chairman Tolentino on the Robot Traffic Enforcer.

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JANUARY 27, 2012

Metro Manila Council Approves Single Ticketing System

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), the policy-making body of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), yesterday approved a resolution adopting a uniform ticketing system for the seventeen local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila.

The Resolution was approved following a presentation and dialogue with Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, who pledged to present the single ticketing system for the approval of President Benigno S. Aquino II. Representatives of transport groups such as the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers (FEJODAP), Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila & Suburbs Drivers Association (Pasang Masda), Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON) participated in the dialogue.

Without the single ticketing system, each Metro Manila LGU and the MMDA use their respective traffic violation tickets within their jurisdictions. This runs counter to the 1995 MMDA Charter, mandating the Agency to "install and administer a single ticketing system".

"We welcome this long-overdue development," said Tolentino. "Hand-in-hand with (DILG) Secretary Robredo, I am confident this initiative will finally see the light," he added.

During the regular council meeting held at the Pasay City Hall yesterday morning, the MMC members unanimously voted for the implementation of the single ticketing system that shall consolidate traffic fines and penalties imposed within the metropolis.

Tolentino said the approval of the resolution paves the way for the implementation of a uniform traffic violation ticket bearing the MMDA logo and those of the seventeen LGUs. The uniform ticket would be issued by all traffic operatives within Metro Manila and shall be recognized metro-wide.

Under the resolution, a Technical Working Group composed of traffic heads of the seventeen LGUs, representatives from the Department of Transport and Communications, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board, and MMDA will be created to resolve various issues and problems concerning the proposed implementation of the single ticketing system.

Among the important issues to be considered are the scheme of apprehension, standardization of fines and penalties, and the redemption of driver's licenses or license plates.

The transport sector, represented by FEJODAP, Pasang Masda, and PCDO-ACTO, as well as the LGUs were given one week or until February 2 to submit their comments and proposals on the matter.

Transport groups have been strongly pushing for the use of a common ticket.

Present during the meeting aside from Secretary Robredo, were Mayors Alfredo Lim of Manila, Vergel Aguilar of Las Piñas, Florencio Bernabe, Jr. of Parañaque, Antonino Calixto of Pasay, Aldrin San Pedro of Muntinlupa, Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Del De Guzman of Marikina, Erwin Jejomar Binay of Makati, John Rey Tiangco of Navotas, Jaime Medina of Pateros, and representatives from the other Metro Manila LGUs.

"I am optimistic that proposals and concerns from our stakeholders will be considered, for the effective implementation of the single ticketing system," Tolentino said.

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JANUARY 26, 2012

MMDA Chairman Begins Estero Blitz II

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino will spearhead the month-long MMDA Estero Blitz II this February 3, starting with an intensive clean-up of the Sta. Clara Creek and Makati Diversion Channel.

The first month-long August Estero Blitz was conducted successfully last year. A 30-day cleanup of creeks and other waterways in Metro Manila, the August Estero Blitz resulted in 7,383 cubic meters of garbage and silt collected from 44 Metro Manila esteros - enough to fill up three Olympic-size swimming pools.

Chairman Tolentino personally took part in the August Estero Blitz, trudging into the esteros as early as five a.m. everyday.

"We will conduct estero clean-ups every quarter," said Tolentino. "We need to keep our waterways flowing to minimize endemic flooding that takes place with continuous rainfall."

The Chairman urged citizens to stop indiscriminate waste disposal. "Every piece of carelessly thrown litter ends up in our waterways," he explained.

The MMDA Estero Blitz program aims to maximize the conveyance capacity of Metro Manila's waterways. Clean waterways convey a bigger volume of floodwaters.

It was observed that floods in Metro Manila receded faster following the August clean-up, particularly at the Camanava area during Typhoon Pedring which took place September last year.

Likewise, perennially flood-prone areas like Espana, areas near Tripa de Gallina and areas near the San Juan River like Salapan Creek were spared from flooding last year, largely attributed to the Estero Blitz Program.

Chairman Tolentino commended the cities of Las Pinas, Makati and Quezon City for banning the use of plastic packaging materials, following the lead of Muntinlupa City. This practice will greatly reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste material in Metro Manila.

The Estero Blitz II will also involve the conduct of teach-ins on solid waste management and medical missions for the nearby communities.

The participation of the local communities, barangay officials and Flood Control Bayanihan Zone Alliances will facilitate Estero Blitz II.

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JANUARY 25, 2012

MMDA Chairman Tests Electronic Tagging Technology for Public Utility Buses

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino spearheaded today (January 25), the testing of a proposed electronic tagging system for public utility vehicles (PUVs) at the EDSA-Orense loading bay fronting the MMDA Building.

Ten MMDA vehicles were used for the demonstration and two electronic tag readers installed at the EDSA-Orense loading bay to determine the proof of concept of the electronic tags.

Chairman Tolentino said today's activity was requested by bus operators pushing for the use of electronic tags in lieu of the PUV paint tagging scheme implemented by the Authority last year. Representatives of the 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK), Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Liga ng Transportasyon at Operators sa Pilipinas (LTOP), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), Alliance of Transport Operators' and Drivers' Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), South Luzon Bus Operators Association (SOLUBOA), Philippine Association of Tourist Transport Organizations (PATTO) and Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila Suburbs Drivers Association (Pasang Masda) attended the event.

"The agency is reconsidering the use of electronic tags, particularly for public utility buses (PUBs), as one of the technological solutions to solve traffic problems along EDSA. The concept has many facets, but this will particularly revolve around the perennial problem of overstaying buses on the loading bays," Tolentino said.

Under the concept, a passive electronic tag will be placed in a registered bus. The tag is associated with a computer database containing identification records of the bus unit such as its LTO and LTFRB registrations.

When the electronically-tagged bus enters the loading bay, a green light will signal that it is detected by the system and the countdown timer begins.

The system can detect if the bus has exceeded the allowed 25 seconds and the green light will turn to red to visually inform the driver that he is overstaying.

This in turn will generate a report to the database, allowing authorities to issue a violation ticket and determine which bus companies are persistent violators.

The measure is expected to reduce the number of buses in transit along EDSA at any given time and lessen queuing at bus stops, thereby alleviating congestion and increasing the travel speed.

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JANUARY 20, 2012

Pasay City Judge Stops MMDA from Demolishing Quezon City Billboard

A Pasay City judge ordered the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to stop demolishing a billboard situated in Quezon City, notwithstanding a standing Dismantling/ Roll Down Order issued by the Building Official of Quezon City.

Pasay City Regional Trial Court Judge Divina Gracia Lopez Pelino issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction dated January 12, 2012 directing the MMDA to stop dismantling 119 billboard structures owned by Complainant Ever Corporation doing business under the name and style of United Neon Sign and Services. What was curious however was that while the petition covered only two billboards, the Writ covered 119 billboards.

The Writ was issued pursuant to a Petition for Injunction filed by Ever Corporation against the MMDA, after the Agency dismantled Ever's billboard located at 995 UC Dapitan Hardware/ Lumber, EDSA, Quezon City.

MMDA Legal and Legislative Affairs Staff Director Rochelle Macapili-Ona clarified that the dismantling was done upon the request of the Local Government of Quezon City. Document presented in the injunction case showed that Quezon City Building Officer Isagani Versoza had issued a Dismantling/ Roll Down Order to United Neon as early as August 14, 2011. This Order was formally indorsed to the MMDA on October 11, 2011.

"The subject billboard owned by Ever Corporation does not have a building permit," Ona pointed out. "This is an outright violation of the National Building Code, which requires that all structures, whether these be buildings or outdoor advertising signs, should obtain a building permit. Where the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish," she added. The petitioner could not even produce their business permits.

Section 301 of the National Building Code states that any entity erecting or constructing any building or structure should first obtain a building permit from the Building Official assigned in the place where the building is located.

"The National Building Code was enacted to ensure that all structures - whether these be buildings, houses or billboard structures - conform in all respects to the principles of safe construction and are suited to the purpose for which they are designed," explained MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino. "The writ of injunction now dispenses with this very important requirement."

The MMDA Chair said he is considering to file administrative charges against Judge Pelino for issuing an order that is patently illegal. "We will exhaust all legal means to ensure that billboards conform to well-accepted standards on size, distance and structural integrity, even as we strive to protect the environment."

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JANUARY 17, 2012

MMDA to Help Rehabilitate Anew Cagayan De Oro and Iligan

Always willing to extend help to local government units, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will once again send a 40-man contingent to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City tomorrow to assist in the distribution of relief goods to flood victims and clean-up operations.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the team, composed of personnel from the Metro Parkways Clearing Group and Road Emergency Group, will help in the extensive clean-up of roadways and communities severely damaged by typhoon "Sendong" last month.

"The MMDA is ready and willing to give help to those in need. We have the manpower and equipment, so we will never hesitate in providing assistance to anyone," Tolentino said.

The agency will also send two payloaders and one fire truck to the devastated areas in an effort to speed up the clearing and cleanup operations.

Volunteers from Chinese Fire Brigade will likewise join the mercy mission and bringing along six fire trucks to augment the heavy equipment being used in the operations.

Relief goods such as used clothing, rice, canned goods, and other food items donated by MMDA employees and concerned private citizens will be distributed by the team which will stay at the affected areas for three to four days.

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JANUARY 11, 2012

MMDA Chairman Elated over Dismissal of Billboard Case

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis N. Tolentino expressed elation over the dismissal of a case filed against the agency by the Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP). "This is a good start for the year," said Tolentino upon learning the news.

The OAAP had filed a complaint with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, seeking to enjoin the MMDA from implementing its billboard rules and regulations. However, in an Order penned by Regional Trial Court Judge Rommel O. Baybay, it was ruled that the OAAP's complaint failed to state a valid cause of action since the Association is not the "real party in interest".

"The real party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment or the party entitled to the avails of the suit," said the Order. Noting that the OAAP did not own a single billboard, it continued: "(i)n this case, the real parties in interest are the members of the petitioner Association who stand to suffer direct injury as a result of the implementation/ enforcement of the questioned memorandum circular and regulation issued by the MMDA."

On its part, the OAAP had argued that paramount public interest was involved, and that the issues raised were of transcendental importance, as they affected the rights and interest of the general public.

However, the Court noted that this was not the case. "Although petitioner claims to be an association of outdoor advertisers with member companies throughout the country, the official acts in question do not affect the entire outdoor advertising industry. The assailed MMDA memorandum circular and regulation cover only billboards and advertising signs installed and displayed within Metro Manila."

"I commend our legal team - the Office of the Solicitor General, our in-house lawyers and deputized private counsel," said Tolentino. "This is a significant victory. We want billboards to conform with the National Building Code. We want to regulate the size and distance between these gargantuan signs, and to reclaim beauty and order in our metropolis."

"We are presently in dialogue with billboard operators and advertisers to work out a mutually acceptable work plan. Definitely, they must conform with the Building Code as soon as possible. We will give them a period to conform, after which we will have to resume our "Baklas Billboard" campaign. We will also respect the ordinances of local government units which impose more stringent regulations," he added.

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JANUARY 3, 2012

MMDA Chairman Patches up Rift with Mother Lily

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino and Regal Films Head Mother Lily Monteverde yesterday patched up their differences over the disqualification in four major categories of Regal's Metro Manila Film Festival entry, "Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow."

The film's lead actress Maricel Soriano was given the Best Actress award during the Festival's December 28 awards night at the Resorts World in Pasay City.

At a one-on-one luncheon yesterday (January 2) by Mother Lily for Chairman Tolentino's birthday, she assured him of Regal's continued support for the coming 2012 Filmfest. Saying that bygones would be bygones, the Regal matriarch assured that the disappointment arising from "Yesterday's" disqualification was all forgotten.

"The Chairman and I are one in our commitment to work for the upgrade of the Philippine movie industry, and for its workers as well," said Monteverde. She greeted Chairman Tolentino a happy birthday in behalf of the Regal family.

"I thank Mother Lily for her gracious and continued support for the upcoming Filmfest, and for the plight of movie workers," said Tolentino. "Mother Lily is a pillar of the movie industry."

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