By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan
MANILA, Sept. 4 (PNA) -– An Inter-agency will work hand in hand to alleviate heavy traffic along the 23.8-kilometer Efipanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), according to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
”Whole of government approach with Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and PNP-HPG (will be involved in traffic management),” said MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino during a press conference held Friday at MMDA office in Makati City.
Tolentino said that operatives of the Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) will start manning the identified chokepoints along Edsa — Balintawak, Cubao, Ortigas, Shaw Boulevard, Guadalupe and Taft Avenue — in a bid to improve traffic management, peace and order, and public safety.
For the part of the DILG, Tolentino said they will clear the illegal vendors mostly occupying the 1.5-meter sidewalk along Edsa which obstruct the flow of vehicles.
Maria Lourdes Agustin, head of the DILG-National Capital Region (NCR), said the clearing of sidewalks and other road obstruction will be implemented including those roads being used as Mabuhay lanes that will serve as alternate roads for the convenience of motorists.
“It is the mandate of the LGUs to assist in the implementation of the 1.5-meter no vendor-zone along Edsa. We are also coordinating with the mayors and barabgay officials to help clear the Mabuhay lanes,” said Agustin.
The LTO, on the other hand, will be manning the bus stops and will apprehend those who will cause obstruction along EDSA.
“Susuportahan namin enforcement ng HPG at MMDA lahat ng mag-oobstruct in EDSA; LTO ticket gagamitin under joint admin order ng LTFRB at LTO. Aalisin po natin lahat yan (illegal parking, obstruction, counter-flow, loading and unloading violators), titikitan po natin yan,” Roque Versoza, chief of LTO Law Enforcement Service, said.
Tolentino noted that starting Monday, provincial buses will not be allowed to ply the entire stretch of Edsa but instead will be rerouted to C-5 road from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
He said this will be jointly implemented by the MMDA and LTFRB.
Atty. Hernando T. Cabrera, LTFRB executive director, said all provincial buses with terminals along Edsa will be obliged to turn left at P. Tuazon (Southbound) and proceed to C-5.
“We are estimating the number of provincial buses to be 120 to 130 more or less. There will be no reason for them to pass the whole stretch of Edsa,” Cabrera told reporters.
From C-5, provincial buses will then exit to South Luzon Expressway (Slex), wherein MMDA will take charge of clearing up their lanes going to Slex.
Tolentino said the truck lane along C-5 will be used by the provincial buses during the window hour.
The move was supported by the Provincial Operators Association of the Philippines (POAP).
POAP president Alex Yague said they will cooperate with the new scheme by policing their ranks.
“We will all cooperate with the new traffic scheme because this is for the good of everybody,” said Yague.
For his part, HPG director Chief Supt. Arnold Gunnacao said that 150 traffic policemen will be deployed to Balintawak, Cubao, Ortigas, Shaw Blvd., Guadalupe and Pasay-Taft.
Gunnacao said the HPG is set to take the road on Monday after undergoing a refresher course on traffic management at the MMDA’s Institute of Traffic Management.
He clarified that his men took the refresher course to learn the “new policies being implemented in the roads.”
He noted that MMDA enforcers will still man the traffic in EDSA except in the choke points but will be supervised under his jurisdiction.
He added the HPG police officers would be ceremoniously sent-off by PNP chief Ricardo Marquez from the PNP headquarters at 4 a.m. on Monday.
Gunnacao said the PNP chief has strict orders for the HPG troopers to stay clear of any extortion activity while on duty along EDSA.
He is also encouraging passengers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to document the apprehension of the driver on photos and video by the HPG officer. This he said, could serve as evidence should there be an allegation of extortion against the HPG officer.
Gunnacao said the HPG officers would strictly follow the order of President Benigno Aquino III to wrap-up all apprehensions on EDSA within 30 seconds.
“Sabi nga ng president sundin ang 30 second rule naman huhulihin mo paparahin kunin lisensya at ibibigay ang tiket wala na yung kwentuhan pa kung ano pa usapan kung kayat nagkakaroon pa ng suspetsa ang mamamayan upang maiwasan yan ang gagawin 30 second rule kunin lisensya bigay ng tiket at release ng sasakyan. May periodic rotation tayo, depende sa assessment para maiwasan ang familiarization,” he said.
Gunnacao said the officers would be deployed on two eight-hour shifts starting at 5 a.m. and there would be 11-12 HPG officers stationed at each of the six choke points.
He said the HPG officers at each choke point would be assisted by two non-HPG police officers who would augment police visibility in the area.
Gunnacao said the HPG officers at each choke point would have motorcycles and patrol cars to chase and apprehend erring motorists and to conduct roving check of the traffic situation.
He added that each HPG officer would be carrying with traffic violation tickets issued both by the MMDA and the Land Transportation Office (LTO). The tickets issued by the LTO carry higher fines for traffic violations as stated under the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01.
According to Gunnacao, it would be for the apprehending HPG officer to decide which ticket to issue.
Meanwhile, the HPG chief is warning motorists that any attempt to bribe the HPG officers would mean being arrested and a possible jail time of six years to 12 years.
Gunnacao said the HPG has also placed measures to make sure that no extortion activity will happen on EDSA starting on Monday.
“Yang mga pangamba na yan ay napaghandaan na natin. Kinuha ko ang commitment ng ating mga pulis na ipatupad lang ang batas na kailangang gawin namin. Meron tayong 30-second rule. At meron tayong periodic rotation ng mga tao. Depende sa assessment. Usually it would be a three-day rotation or a weekly rotation. Depende sa aspeto. Para maiwasan ang familiarization ng enforcers sa mga stakeholders,” he explained.
Gunnacao added that HPG officers accused of extortion would be subjected to a speedy probe. (PNA)