Urban Planning Issues in the Philippines

Reclaim Public Roads: 10 News Articles that Encapsulate the Verbal Directive

A collection of stories that illustrate how local government units attempted to #ReclaimPublicRoads.

During his 2019 State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte pleaded to the concerned offices, particularly the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to “ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic. Reclaim all public roads…”

The plea was followed by a verbal directive to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, “to see to it that this is enforced. If there is a mayor or governor…give him time and if he cannot…suspend…”

The verbal directive obviously stems from the hellish traffic situation in Metro Manila, but the order that followed to #ReclaimPublicRoads was for the whole Philippines.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued Memorandum 2019-121 “to all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, punong barangays, heads of local sanggunians, DILG regional directors, BARMM regional governor, and all other concerned.”

The following is a collection of stories that illustrate how local government units attempted to #ReclaimPublicRoads between July 29, 2019 and September 29, 2019.

Local government units attempted to #ReclaimPublicRoads between July 29, 2019 and September 29, 2019.  Image from EnPTinio Facebook.
Local government units attempted to #ReclaimPublicRoads between July 29, 2019 and September 29, 2019. Image from EnPTinio Facebook.

I extracted direct quotes from the linked news articles to demonstrate the impacts of the verbal directive.

My aim is to show how a passing order from a strong authority can generate both good and bad impacts to the current realities.

Duterte to Año: Take back public roads to ease Metro Manila traffic


“President Duterte issued the directive ‘in an apparent bid to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

“The President also gave [DILG Secretary] Año the authority and power to suspend local chief executives who refuse or fail to comply with his directive.”

Clearing streets of obstructions must be good for all PH cities

(Manila Times)

“It was laudable for some of the newly elected young mayors of Metro Manila to start moving without having to wait for the DILG memorandum circular”

Read: Here are sustainable cities in the Philippines!

DILG kicks off 60-day countdown for Metro Manila cleanup


“Interior Secretary Eduardo Año formally kicked off the 60-day deadline given for mayors in the National Capital Region to clear roads in their areas of obstructions, including illegal vendors

“…prioritize the clearing of primary and arterial roads that contribute to vehicular congestion on main thoroughfares, particularly Commonwealth Avenue, Osmeña Highway, Aurora Boulevard and C5 Road”.

“[Secretary Año] cited the Local Government Code which punishes with suspension or removal from office any local official for gross negligence or dereliction of duty, abuse of authority, dishonesty, as well as other administrative offenses”

“Metro Manila mayors will have the support of ‘the entire machinery of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), including the PNP (Philippine National Police),’ Año said.”

DILG eyes Manila’s formula in clearing roads


“Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said [Manila Mayor Isko] Moreno’s political will in clearing thoroughfares is  worth emulating by other local chief executives.”

“[DILG] will also review local ordinances that are in conflict with government efforts to ease traffic.”

Read: Street Parking in the Philippines

LGUs get ultimatum to clear roads

(Manila Bulletin)

“On July 29, 2019, the DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2019-121 directing [all concerned] to exercise their powers essential to reclaim public roads, rid them of illegal structures and constructions, rehabilitate them by placing street names and street lights, and carry out strategies to address possible displacement issues.”

“DILG regional offices are also obliged to submit weekly compliance and progress reports to the Office of the DILG Secretary during the 60-day compliance period.”

“[Maj.Gen. Eleazar quoted] ‘By demolishing this Police Community Precinct, our personnel will have the moral ascendancy to demolish other structures that were also erected in public spaces…”

“At the time of the construction of PCPs along sidewalks in the 1980s, he said traffic problems are not as bad as today…But during those times, Albayalde said there was already insufficient space to erect PCPs – the reason some PCPs were constructed along sidewalks.”

WATCH: Baclaran sidewalk vendors decry clearing ops


“Sidewalk vendors in Baclaran were among the casualties of clearing operations that local governments have been given 60 days to complete.”

“One of the vendors lamented how the operations were done without notice and how they were not even given an hour to gather their wares and leave.”

“[MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia quoted] ‘These roads were being used for profit for a long time and it’s about time we reclaim it for the common good. Sidewalks are for pedestrians while public roads are for motorists.”

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‘No garage, no car’ legislation gets DILG backing to help ease traffic

(ABS-CBN News)

“Aside from illegal vendors, illegally parked vehicles also contribute to traffic, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told ANC’s Headstart. “

[DILG Undersecretary Malaya quoted] ‘The DILG will support Senate Bill 201 or the Proof of Parking Space Act filed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian”

Zamora orders suspension of pay parking in all San Juan streets

(CNN Philippines)

“San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora ordered the suspension of pay parking in all the city’s streets beginning August 5. “

MC 121-2019 is for removal of road obstructions not road widening – DILG

(DILG News)

“Memorandum Circular 121-2019 is only for purposes of removal of road obstructions and cannot be used for road widening purposes.”

“[DILG] received reports…that MC 121-2019 was allegedly being used by contractors of the DPWH and some Local Government Units (LGUs) to remove century-old trees, demolish waiting sheds that do not obstruct sidewalks, and even demolish structures in private lots without notice and just compensation.

90% of national roads in Metro Manila cleared: MMDA


“The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on [August 27, 2019] reported that 90 percent of national roads and ‘Mabuhay Lanes’ are now cleared while 60 percent of inner roads in Metro Manila are also free of obstructions.”

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“[Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto], however, said a major challenge after their completion of clearing operations is its sustainability.

“[Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco], however, admitted that removing daycare centers, barangay halls, and police stations is a major challenge to reclaim public roads and places.

“Tiangco said a police precinct which partly blocked a market road was spared from the clearing operation as it is needed to secure the area.”

DILG clearing ops leave dozens of dogs, cats homeless in Bacolod

(CNN Philippines)

“Tina Montinola-Monfort of animal welfare group PAWSsion Project and Community Animal Rescue Efforts said families cannot bring their pets with them. Montinola-Monfort said they have rescued and fostered at least 20 puppies and 15 cats…”

QC eyes lease of national gov’t properties for displaced vendors, barangay halls


“Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte says the National Housing Authority, for example, can help by leasing out its unused properties so the city can build markets for former sidewalk vendors.”

“[Belmonte quoted] ‘There are a lot of available properties. For those that are government-owned, because this is a directive of the President, I’m asking these agencies to cooperate with local governments if we need to relocate some of our vendors or barangays.”

“Belmonte had also proposed to transfer vendors to public markets with vacant spaces, and asked the city council to waive rent fees for one to two months to allow them to settle in.”

Marikina is ‘gold standard’ in road clearing, says DILG undersecretary

(ABS-CBN News)

“[DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya quoted] Sa tingin ko, Marikina is really the gold standard here because they’ve been doing it for a long time…We are very pleased because we all know how difficult local governments can be. We’re pleased that many of the mayors are doing things that we wouldn’t expect them to do…”

“[DILG Undersecretary Malaya] added that a city needs to comply with the four parameters set by DILG to be classified as compliant. These parameters include: revisiting, repealing or enacting new ordinances helpful to road clearing or in easing traffic; inventory of roads to determine which ones have obstructions; clearing these roads; and, displacement strategy or finding a temporary place for displaced vendors to sell their wares.”

We’re pleased that many of the mayors are doing things that we wouldn’t expect them to do…”

-DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya in ABS-CBN News story

Read: Why the local elections are important

Mayor Zamora ‘very confident’ San Juan will pass DILG evaluation on road clearing

(Manila Bulletin)

“The mayor of the smallest city in Metro Manila said San Juan was already “100-percent compliant” with the department’s order, and that they have already submitted their compliance report to the DILG.”

“Eventually when we implemented [road clearing] in San Juan, they realized that this is for the good of the community, and everyone now has better access to our road networks … for there were no longer illegally parked vehicles…”

Virac’s right-side parking policy irks establishments, motorists

(Catanduanes Tribune)

“Traffic aides and maintenance workers of the local government, assisted by the Virac police, installed tarpaulin signs along the right side of the national highway from barangay Francia to Calatagan. This surprised traders who operate businesses in the designated parking areas as well as motorists who were asked to remove their parked vehicles from the road shoulders.”

“(L)ocal chief executives are hereby directed to revoke permits that give authority to private entities to occupy public roads, alleys and other thoroughfares,” [ DILG Secretary Eduardo Año stated.”

“[DILG Secretary Eduardo Año quoted] Prudence must also be observed in placing street signs and signages to avoid exacerbating problems on obstructions.”

For Manila’s vendors, cleared roads mean empty stomachs


“For many barangay officials, being “extra vigilant” meant placing thousands of livelihoods in an indefinite halt. “

“According to barangay officials Rappler spoke to, they could only afford following the total clearing of road within the time period prescribed by the memo. It means that after October 5, vendors would be allowed to set up again.”

“After the vendors were sent away, they could not find other sources of livelihood as most of them have no high school and college degrees. They also could not simply transfer to other areas, as road-clearing operations happened everywhere.”

“Many have left Recto and are struggling. We are from Manila, and they are from Manila. The corrupt are gone, but many have fallen to poverty.

Watch: Lagos: Africa’s Fastest Growing Megacity

DILG: Sustain road clearing beyond Sept. 29 deadline

(Panay News)

“It doesn’t mean tapos na ang road clearing after the deadline. This is a continuing responsibility of all the local officials down to the barangay level. Ito talaga ‘yung trabaho,” said Director Ariel Iglesia (Region 6)…”the President’s road clearing order was just a reiteration of existing laws, rules and regulations that local government officials should have been enforcing.”

“DILG also reminded all city and municipal mayors that they have the power to discipline village chiefs who are negligent or uncooperative in the clearing efforts.”

Were you satisfied with the efforts of your local government to #ReclaimPublicRoads?

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