MMDA working with Senate on bill to expand its mandate
MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said it was working with the Senate to expand its powers to more effectively deal with traffic, flooding and other problems in the National Capital Region.
On Wednesday, the MMDA’s top officials sat down with the Inquirer staff to discuss the challenges they face.
What emerged was a picture of an agency expected to do so much with so little. For one, several of their projects, like flood control and traffic enforcement, depend on their coordination with city governments and other national departments.
“The MMDA is one of the most challenging agencies to run, but people sometimes don’t look at the agency very kindly because it’s hard to fulfill our mandate,” MMDA chair Danilo Lim said.
To help resolve this, MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said they were assisting in the drafting of the bill expected to be sponsored by Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon who had suggested a review of the agency’s traffic management mandate.
Similar to old bills
Garcia declined to give specifics. But he said he expected the bill to be similar to those filed during the 17th Congress in which the MMDA would be given the power to craft Metrowide traffic laws and regulate development projects not aligned with its master plan.
He was, however, lukewarm to the possibility of expanding the MMDA’s mandate to Mega Manila (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Bulacan provinces) as suggested by Sen. Grace Poe.
“You would only expand our area of responsibility but not our powers,” Garcia said.
For years, the MMDA has been lobbying for more teeth to effectively enforce its policies, especially in terms of traffic management.
Right now, its officials are still smarting from efforts to stifle their more radical proposals: first, a Senate resolution stopping the implementation of its high-occupancy vehicle policy last year, and then recently, a court injunction against their pet project, the provincial bus ban on Edsa.
“Have you ever seen anything like this? We’re just implementing the dry run and yet there is already an injunction. “Everyone is expecting something from us but we don’t even have police powers,” Garcia said.
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