President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday ordered Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año to suspend mayors and governors refusing to clear public roads to ease traffic congestion in the country.
Duterte made the directive during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the joint opening first regular session of the 18th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City.
He said many public roads are being used for private purposes and ordered its recovery as public property by local officials.
“Reclaim all public roads that are being used for private ends. Marami diyan (There are many around),” Duterte said.
The President also tasked the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to enforce the proper use of national roads in Metro Manila.
On July 10, 2019, Senator Francis Tolentino filed a Senate bill seeking to grant Duterte emergency powers to address traffic problem in the country.
A day later, MMDA general manager Jose Arturo “Jojo” Garcia said in a press conference the emergency powers will expedite their plans to ease congestion that would normally require long processes.
“Let’s say we’re seeking to open alternate routes on private roads. There will be a long process to follow. But if you have emergency powers, we can just tell owners of private roads to open their gates during rush hours. Isn’t that convenient? That’s what President Duterte is saying,” Garcia said.
The MMDA official added local government units need a degree of freedom in deciding what to do in the traffic situation in their areas because of their own unique situations. (Raymond Carl Dela Cruz/PNA)