DILG gives mayors until September to clear Metro Manila roads

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 29) — Metro Manila mayors have until the end of September to clear all roads from illegal parking and ambulant vendors.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) gave a 60-day window for mayors to remove all obstructions in local roads starting Monday.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued Memorandum Circular 2019-121 a week after President Rodrigo Duterte asked local officials during his State of the Nation Address to reclaim public spaces and ease traffic congestion.

READ: Duterte orders officials to reclaim public roads used for private purposes

According to the issuance, streets under a mayor's watch must be cleared from all types of blockages. These recovered roads must also be repaired and made passable by installing street names and lights.

"Relatedly, local chief executives are hereby directed to revoke permits that give authority to private entities to occupy public roads, alleys and other thoroughfares," the DILG memo read.

"Within 60 calendar days, significant results must be achieved, documented, and reported together with the efforts of the LGUs (local government units) to sustain the same," it added.

Mayors must also come up with a road inventory and share their respective Local Roads Network Development Plans among themselves for coordination.

Last week, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said mayors will be given just 45 days to clear the streets. Año said this has been extended to give more time for bigger cities to do the work. Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte admitted that she asked for the extension, saying it was more "realistic" given her city's vast land area.

The Cabinet official has warned that mayors who fail to carry out this order could face suspension and other sanctions, depending on the "magnitude" of the violation. Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez, who heads the League of Metro Manila Mayors, said all 17 members have pledged to comply.

Jojo Garcia, general manager of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, said more than 30 percent of minor roads are currently clogged due to illegal vendors and parked cars which limit these to one-way access.

"Kaya nagta-traffic sa EDSA, 'yung mga exit points barado. If we can clear all those secondary roads, definitely bibilis ang traffic [The heavy traffic along EDSA is due to congested exit points. If we can clear all those secondary roads, definitely traffic will improve]," Garcia said during the Monday press briefing.

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Several cities in Metro Manila, including Manila City and San Juan, started their clearing operations upon the newly-minted mayors' assumption of office.

A 2018 report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) revealed that the Philippines is losing ₱3.5 billion a day due to traffic congestion in the metropolis. JICA, in a later study, said the country is also projected to lose ₱5.4 billion to traffic daily by 2035 if no interventions are made.