A week into the 60-day countdown for local chief executives of the 16 cities in Metro Manila, changes were already seen in most parts of it. With mayors leading the clearing-up operations, then narrow alleys now are passable roads, adding ease to the current traffic flow.
During their meeting with Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año on July 29 in Quezon City, the mayors said they are 100 percent supportive of the agency’s order to clear road obstructions in public properties.
Mayor Joy Belmonte of Quezon City, the biggest among the cities in Metro Manila in terms of land area, has asked to extend the deadline from 45 days to 60.
She also lamented the media’s criticism of her governance being too silent and not engaging, saying hers is a different style. “I am no iron fist, but I get the job done too,” Belmonte said an earlier interview.
LOOK: Situation in Edsa Balintawak Market: Cleared of illegally parked motor vehicles and sidewalk vendors.
Right after the announcement of his win, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso went to action and started putting down illegal stalls blocking the capital city’s public roads.
The “before and after” photos of Manila streets went viral in social media, spiking the mayor’s popularity. In fact, he may have actually inspired the expansion of the clearing operation.
“If I have to go to every street, every corner, every road, every highway, every building in Manila just to reassure the people that the city will be clean, safe, orderly then so be it,” the young mayor said in one of his public engagements.
LOOK: The upper photo shows the situation along Carriedo Street in July 2018, while the lower photo shows the situation along the same street today.
Other local executives also took to social media their efforts in the metro-wide clearing operations.
Though small in land area, Mayor Jaime Fresnedi vows their dedication will be no different than the others.
LOOK: Muntinlupa Task Force Discipline’s clearing operation in Bayanan and Alabang
Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group (SCOG)
Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Taguig, and San Juan are also gearing up their operations as the clock ticks toward their judgment day.
As announced during the meeting with Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and other monitoring agencies, there will be a corresponding sanction against mayors who fail to do the task or any local officials who will hamper the success of the operations.
“A two-month suspension will be imposed while investigations are ongoing. It can either lead up to one month, one year, or two years at most,” Año warned.
The DILG order to clear obstructions in public roads came after President Rodrigo Duterte in his Fourth State of the Nation Address took notice of Metro Manila’s bad traffic situation.
While the national government has done its part in treating the metro’s heavily congested roads through making a new transportation system and even trickling down population density through building a new smart city in Clark, Pampanga– these huge projects would take years before the public can see and feel its effect.
There are also several road widening projects by MMDA but still not enough to lessen traffic woes, prompting the 60-day clearing operations, which offer a quick solution to ease congestions.
MMDA general manager Jose Arturo “Jojo” Garcia also provided a heads up in a prior media interview of the general outcome if the clearing operations be successful.
“It will improve the traffic situation by 30 percent, that is a big thing,” he said. (Christine Cudis PNA)