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Sharp Edges

No more untouchable Metro barangay officials

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) General Manager Jojo Garcia says all 17 Metro mayors are cooperating to meet the 60-day deadline set by President Duterte to clear roads and sidewalks in their areas of obstructions.

However, it is becoming clear that some corrupt barangay officials are protecting “illegals” in their areas, resulting in the proliferation of eyesores like sidewalk vendors and unauthorized public transport terminals.

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Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte recently discovered the operations of a firm called E-manage—which has allegedly collected P80 to P100 daily for the past five years—from vendors at a makeshift market under the Luzon Avenue flyover.

E-manage would not have been able to operate without the consent of the barangay captain. While it reportedly made P10 million, the firm declared gross sales of only P3 million and paid around P45,000 in taxes to city hall last year. The operation of another illegal market on Commonwealth Avenue is also being investigated by Belmonte.

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Earlier, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno stopped the operations of illegal vendors on Recto Avenue-Divisoria, Blumentritt-Rizal Avenue, Pedro Gil-Paco, Raon-Quezon Avenue and around Plaza Miranda. These were reportedly under the protection of barangay captains close to the previous administration. They also controlled vending areas outside dry and wet markets in the city, including an illegal bus terminal at Lawton. Even the MMDA was powerless against them for many years.

I will not be surprised if these “barangay kings” get the axe when the 60-day deadline lapses next month. Now that all mayors are openly against road obstructions, the illegal activities of their “favorite” barangay officers have been exposed. Let’s see what happens.

But the biggest problem that needs to be tackled is the “one-side parking” practice that affects all of Metro Manila. Interior Secretary Eduardo Año clarified that this would be allowed only from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

This is a big problem for Makati, Taguig, Pasig, Quezon City and Manila because they host business districts. San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, on the other hand, has officially declared a 24-hour “no parking” policy on all secondary roads in the city, especially on Mabuhay lanes.

Meanwhile, the Parañaque and Pasay local governments have finally coordinated to permanently clear the areas around Baclaran church. However, “guerrilla vending” (on carts or mats) still happens with vendors, for the most part, escaping apprehension.

Caloocan, San Juan and Quezon cities have demolished previously “untouchable” barangay halls in their areas through the help of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the MMDA and police.

Other cities like Mandaluyong, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa, Taguig, Malabon and Navotas, and Pateros town have also dealt with their problems, according to MMDA’s Garcia.

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According to Garcia, Las Piñas Mayor Imelda Aguilar even asked him, in jest, to find additional road obstructions for her to clear since her city has no problems with traffic and sidewalk management.

Sept. 26 is the day of reckoning for Metro Manila mayors who fail to to clear their streets and sidewalks of all obstructions. Año says stubborn local officials, (whom he called “matitigas ang ulo,” or stubborn), cannot hide behind alibis. Under Section 20 of the Local Government Code, the DILG can suspend and remove mayors who are not doing their jobs, as well as corrupt barangay officers.

Tune in to the “Banner Story” radio-TV show, Monday-Friday, 6-9 a.m., on dzIQ (990AM) and BEAM TV. Email [email protected] yahoo.com for comments.

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TAGS: barangay officials, Jake J. Maderazo, Jojo Garcia, Metro Manila, MMDA, officials, Rodrigo Duterte, Sharp Edges
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