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Metro Manila malls to adjust operating hours starting Nov. 11 to help ease traffic flow

in News/Tabloid PH News
Metro Manila malls to adjust operating hours starting Nov. 11 to help ease traffic flow

Metro Manila malls have committed to do their share in easing traffic flow during the holiday season by tweaking their weekday operating schedules and promotional schemes starting November 11 up to January 10.

This was the result of the meeting between the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and representatives of mall operators and owners on Tuesday (October 22).

In the meeting, MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said it was agreed that from Monday to Friday, malls in Metro Manila will open shop at 11 a.m., instead of the regular 10 a.m. opening. There are about 100 malls in Metro Manila, with an average staff of 2,000.

In doing this, the volume of people traveling to the metropolis during the rush hours to make it on time for the opening of malls would be greatly reduced, Garcia said.

The employees of the malls alone would no longer join the morning rush to their workplaces, already translating to 200,000 (2,000 employees multiplied by 100 malls) people off the Metro Manila roads.

Aside from this, the long queue of vehicles of customers entering the malls will be avoided until after the rush hours.

Aside from adjusting the start of operating hours during weekdays, the malls owners and operators have also committed to avoid conducting mall sales during weekdays. These mall sales attract heavy volume of shoppers, causing gridlocks around the shopping areas.

For deliveries, Garcia said malls will be adjusting the delivery window to between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Metro Manila malls were also asked to add security personnel that will assist the traffic personnel of the MMDA and local government units in ensuring smooth flow of vehicles in their respective areas.

Metro Manila residents told to prepare for water service interruptions as dam level drops

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Metro Manila residents told to prepare for water service interruptions as dam level drops
Image Credit: Gigie Cruz/ABS-CBN News

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has advised Metro Manila residents to prepare for possible cut in water supply or even service interruptions in the coming days as the level of Angat Dam continues to drop.

NWRB Executive Director Sevillo David Jr. said that as of 6 a.m. on Friday (October 18), Angat Dam’s water level has dropped to 187.28 meters.

It used to be at about 191 meters in September. The normal water level is 212 meters.

Angat is the main source of raw water being processed by concessionaires serving Metro Manila and nearby areas.

“Kailangan po nating paghandaan kung sakaling magkakaroon ng kabawasan sa pag-ulan… May posibilid pong magkaroon ng kabawasan sa serbisyo ng mga konsesyonaryo kasi nga po hindi normal ang alokasyon,” David said in an interview with radio station DZMM.

David also told GMA News Online that the allocation for the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) will be 40 cubic meter per second (m3/s) for November, a big slash from the regular supply of 46 m3/s. 

Allocation for irrigation will also see a big cut to only 17m3/s from 30 m3/s. 

In a statement issued last October 15, Maynilad Water Services Inc. already advised its consumers to stock water regularly in case the daily rotational water interruptions would need to be implemented.

In an advisory posted on its website a day after, Maynilad said: 

“Assuming that sufficient rains still do not fall over the watersheds to replenish our dams, Maynilad may be constrained to re-implement DAILY ROTATIONAL WATER SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS in some portions of the West Zone.

Below is the list of affected areas and their corresponding schedules. These rotational service interruptions may take full effect in the next few days, depending on actual rainfalls that will occur in the watersheds.

If enough volume of raw water enters our treatment facilities, we can shorten or even postpone the scheduled service interruption. However, if the volume of raw water is not enough, then the service interruptions will happen as scheduled. 

Please be reminded that while no service interruption happens today, the same may not be the case tomorrow. Given this, we advise our customers to remember the assigned daily interruption schedule in their area, and to keep enough water stored in case the scheduled interruption for the day will push through. Please keep stored water in clean, covered containers.

Upon resumption of water service, please let the water flow out for a few seconds until the supply clears. We appeal to our customers for their continued patience and understanding, as we try to manage the effects of the reduced allocation on our operations. Please continue to monitor our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on the supply situation.”


EDITORIAL: Garage as a prerequisite to car ownership: Individual rights vs public order

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Garage as a prerequisite to car ownership: Individual rights vs public order
Image Credit: Wikipedia / Tabloid PH

Two bills seeking to regulate the sale of motor vehicles—by requiring buyers to show unassailable proofs of ready garage or parking space—are now undergoing committee deliberations at the Senate.

Senate Bill (SB) 368 authored by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and SB 679 authored by Sen. Bong Revilla are timely, with the road-clearing operations of the local government units and concerned state agencies already underway, as ordered by President Duterte.

Already, streets in the metropolis have been rid of mobile and ambulant obstructions, including parked vehicles, which eased the flow of vehicles and people. 

However, as what Filipinos have become accustomed to, concerns were raised over the sustainability of this campaign—with the government’s resolve feared to eventually give in to ningas kugon (fiery at start only die down easily) again. And don’t forget, hard-headed Filipinos would always try to sneak in and test implementation if it would really be round-the-clock.

This is why we believe that in a way, the bills of Revilla and Gatchalian will greatly contribute to institutionalizing the campaign of keeping the streets free of obstructions.

Gatchalian’s SB 368, which covers Metro Manila only, adds as a requirement to vehicle registration a duly notarized affidavit attesting to the availability of a permanent or leased parking space or facility specifically intended for the vehicle to be purchased.

Revilla’s SB 679 expanded the coverage to other traffic-prone areas, such Angeles, Bacolod, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Dagupan, Davao, Iloilo, Naga and Olongapo.

But during the Senate hearing last October 8, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III already raised possible constitutionality issues that these bills might encounter, particularly the right to ownership and discrimination. “I would like to invite the lawyers’ association to look into the constitutional angle of this, if this is discriminatory or not,” he said. “From the very start, we are disqualifying a certain segment of society from owning motor vehicles.” 

So now, it boils down to this: individual rights versus public order and safety. 

Pimentel is probably worried that even if the bills are passed into law, their implementation would only be stopped once some groups have questioned its constitutionality before the Supreme Court, thus, putting the time and efforts of the lawmakers, as well as public funds, to waste.

Supreme Courts in different countries have had varied decisions when justices were faced with the task of weighing public order and safety versus individual rights.

In the United States, for example, the court has ruled in favor of protecting individual’s right to own guns against laws that sought to curtail it.

What happens now? 

We share the concern of Sen. Pimentel—we don’t want a law with good intentions to just go down the drain because of technicality or constitutionality issues. The lawmakers should do their homework. Consult all stakeholders, especially legal luminaries.

It’s easy to always side with the common good, or the public’s sake. But individuals have their rights too. 

Offhand, we can see some balancing acts happening; as the cliches goes: win-win solutions.

This is the beauty—or undoing—of a democratic society. 

Govt launches free wifi access program in 23 sites throughout the country

in Tabloid PH News
Govt launches free wifi access program in 23 sites throughout the country

The Duterte administration has taken the initial steps toward its promise of providing free wifi access throughout the country by 2022 with the rollout of 23 free public wifi stations on Tuesday (October 8).

Secretary Gregorio Honasan of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said all the regions were represented in the simultaneous launch of the free public wifi access, which has speeds of up to 30 mbps.

These areas are: Dagupan City (Region 1); Tuguegarao City (Region 2); Mabalacat City (Region 3); Morong, Rizal (Region 4A); Victoria, Oriental Mindoro (Region 4B); Sorsogon and Camarines Sur (Region 5); Iloilo and Negros Occidental (Region 6); 

Cebu City (Region 7); Eastern Samar (Region 8); Zamboanga City (Region 9); Cagayan de Oro (Region 10); Davao City (Region 11); South Cotabato (Region 12); Agusan del Norte (Region 13); Cotabato City (BARMM); and Baguio City (CAR).

“The issue here is connectivity. Connectivity means getting access to data real-time. That is the beauty of technology today, because it’s almost free; it’s a global phenomenon,” Honasan said.

The target for the year, he added, is to put up 8,073 sites all over the country. When Duterte steps down from his post in 2022, the DICT should have already established free wifi access sites in 250,000 areas.

This is consistent with the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, or Republic Act 10929, which was signed by Duterte in 2017.

For next year, Honasan sought a budget of P36.3 billion, 88 percent higher than its allocation for the year. This, the former military official and senator, said will start turning into reality its plan of transforming the Philippines into a digital nation.

Aside from the government’s free wifi service, the telecommunication firms and several malls are also giving free wifi access in select areas.

“We’re applying the principle of convergence. All institutions, all agencies, and the principle of public-private partnership,” he said. “You connect government to other governments — domestic and global, you connect government to business, connect government to our citizens, and connect government to our armed men who are protecting this country.”

Angkas eyes nationwide operations as lawmakers seek to legalize habal habal

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Angkas eyes nationwide operations as lawmakers seek to legalize habal habal

Motorcycle taxis could also be sprouting in areas outside of Metro Manila and Cebu City where heavy vehicular traffic is a daily headache of commuters, with bills allowing ride-hailing platforms for the so-called “habal habal” already filed in both houses of Congress.

Senators Ralph G. Recto, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Imee R. Marcos and Juan Edgardo M. Angara have filed separate bills that will amend Republic Act (RA) 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

A house version of the bill has been filed by Cebu City 1st District Rep. Raul V. Del Mar.

The lawmakers seek to regulate the use of motorcycles as public utility vehicles. Currently, RA 4136 does not allow motorcycle taxis.

However, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) granted ride-hailing platform Angkas a six-month license to operate in Metro Manila and Cebu last May to pilot test its motorcycle taxi services. Grab and other logistics apps like Lalamove are also using motorcycles, but only to deliver small cargoes and parcels.

Grab also used to offer motorcycle taxis years back like Angkas, but the DOTr halted their operations until last May when it gave the go signal for the pilot testing of legal “habal habal”. Angkas has since enlisted 27,000 drivers, while its app is now being used by around 2 million commuters.

George I. Royeca, Angkas head of regulatory and public affairs, said the company plans to operate in other urbanized cities in the country once the bill allowing motorcycle taxis to operate has been passed into law.

“We hope that when we legalize the motorcycle taxi that we can run this nationwide. Traffic is not exclusive to Metro Manila,” Royeca told reporters.

Among the areas that Angkas is considering for expansion, Royeca added, are Davao, Cagayan De Oro and Batangas.

“We’re just waiting for the schedule in the Senate so we can present interim results of the technical working group and hopefully, we’re able to push this into a law,” Royeca said.

He added: “But I think everyone’s in agreement na [already] that motorcycle taxis are something that the country needs… Habal habal has been there for a while. It’s high time that we regulated it.”

#WalangPasok: Class suspensions for Tuesday, September 17

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#WalangPasok: Class suspensions for Tuesday, September 17

Metro Manila (September 17) — Classes are ordered suspended in the following areas Tuesday, September 27, due to bad weather caused by Southwest Monsoon.

National Capital Region

Pasig City

– Metro Manila

– Navotas City

– Las Piñas City

– Marikina City

– Parañaque City

– Caloocan City

– Malabon City

MMDA warns public: No city ordinance, no street parking

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MMDA warns public: No city ordinance, no street parking

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reminded the public that it will only allow street parking in areas where a city or municipal ordinance allows it. In the absence of an ordinance allowing on-street one-side parking, the MMDA said it will be towing parked vehicles, consistent with the order of President Duterte to clear the roads of obstructions as a way to ease the flow of traffic.

This was stressed by MMDA Command Center chief Edison Bong Nebrija in an interview with radio station DZMM on Tuesday (September 10).

Nebria said mere barangay ordinances allowing street parking in certain areas will not suffice.

“Kalsada po iyan. Wala pong ano (kapangyarihan) ang barangay d’yan, mag-ano (labas) sila ng kanilang resolusyon, ordinansa. It needs to be approved by the city for the overall city traffic management plan,” ani Nebrija said in the DZMM interview. 

Nebria cited the case of Barangay Bagong Lipunan, Quezon City, which allows one-side parking on an inner road near Camp Crame. 

“They need to resolve it among themselves. Kung bibigyan po ng ordinansa ng city iyan, then wala kaming magagawa kundi igalang iyan. Pero kung wala, wala naman po kaming magagawa kundi ipatupad,” Nebria said, referring to the directive of the President to clear road obstructions.

Barangays captains and mayors were given a September 27 deadline to clear the streets. The Department of the Interior and Local Government said these local officials face sanctions if they fail to follow Duterte’s directive, including suspension.

Mandaluyong City, under Ordinance No. 358, S- 2005, allows on street parking. Paragraph A of Section 54 of the ordinance states that “The City’s Traffic and Parking Management Office is hereby authorized and directed to establish, mark and designate portions of a thoroughfare as pay parking zones.” 

MMDA Regulation No. 96-003, Series of 1996, authorizes the towing and impounding of stalled and illegally parked motor vehicles and/or attachments thereof in Metro Manila. This covers primary and secondary roads.

#WalangMayor trending as netizens find humor in mayors’ failure to suspend classes

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#WalangMayor trending as netizens find humor in mayors’ failure to suspend classes
Image Credit: Ronn Tan

Filipino netizens again found a way to insert humor into their anguish while waiting for announcements of class suspensions from their mayors—they put #WalangMayor (no mayor) in Twitter’s top trending topics on August 27 (Tuesday).

With Tropical Storm Jenny already bringing rains to Metro Manila and other areas as early as Monday evening, some mayors in the National Capital Region started announcing class suspensions in different levels.

However, some local executives failed to make their respective announcements up to Tuesday morning, thus, the birth of the hashtag #WalangMayor.

It was just trailing #WalangPasok in Twitter’s Philippines Trends.

Particularly criticized in thousands of tweets were the mayors of Makati, Manila and San Juan for not minding to issue advisories at all up to the time the students were about to leave for school.

In the process, another hashtag spawned—#WalangPake (I don’t care)—expressing the netizens’ disgust over the apparent indifference displayed by these city mayors.

The weather bulletin from PAGASA issued at 11 a.m. on Tuesday said Jenny was expected to make landfall on Aurora between Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning. The provinces of Isabela, Aurora and Quirino were already placed under Storm Signal No. 2.

Some 26 areas, including Metro Manila, were under Signal No. 1.

Jenny is expected to cut through Central Luzon. It is seen to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on August 29.

Jenny entered PAR just after Typhoon Ineng wreaked havoc in the northern part of the archipelago, particularly the Ilocos region, leaving 2 people dead and around P600 million in damage to crops and property.

One tweet said Manila literally has no mayor today, as Isko Moreno is currently in Australia for “a work and vacation trip”.

Mayors busy clearing roads of obstructions

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Mayors busy clearing roads of obstructions
photo credit: mmda fb

If you’ve been away for quite some time and will be coming home in a few days, don’t be surprised if the appearance of your street and the roads leading to your house has changed.

This is because all the mayors and barangay officials have been given strict instructions by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to clear the streets of obstructions—be they ambulant or fixed—within 60 days.

And this is what’s keeping local government executives busy these days, and why you’d see mayors, barangay leaders and police officials going live on social media while they dismantle illegal structures on roads.

It was President Duterte himself who ordered the clearing operations in his State of the Nation Address last July 22 as a measure to ease traffic congestion. One week later, DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año issued Memorandum Circular 2019-121 giving mayors 60 days “to exercise their powers essential to reclaim public roads which are being used for private ends, and in the process rid them of illegal structures and constructions.” 

Ano wants mayors to exercise Section 32 of the Local Government Code to make sure all barangay executives will help implement Duterte’s directive. The provision states that: “The city or municipality, through the city or municipal Mayor concerned, shall exercise general supervision over component Barangays to ensure that said Barangays act within the scope of their prescribed powers and functions.”

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said the cooperation of barangays “is crucial for the success of this program.”

“We have been deluged by complaints from the people about Barangay captains who are failing to act and worse being complicit and actively tolerating road obstructions. The mayors have to make them accountable because that’s their mandate and responsibility,” Malaya said.

But even before Duterte issued his directive, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno was already having viral videos on social media while supervising illegal vendor clearing operations in Divisoria, Lagusnilad Underpass, Plaza Miranda, Quezon Boulevard, Blumentritt and Carriedo, among others. Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto and Pateros Mayor Ike Ponce, meanwhile,  worked together in clearing the roads around their jurisdictions’ borders of illegal structures such as signposts, parked vehicles and illegal vendors.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora also went live on social media when he led the demolition of a police community precinct on a sidewalk.

photo credit: @franciszamora30 instagram

Baclaran was also a subject of several rounds of clearing operations by the Metro Manila Development Authority and the local governments of Pasay City and Paranaque City. 

Malaya, in a statement, said road obstructions will not happen without the knowledge of the Barangay Captain. “Sabi nga ni Secretary Año, imposibleng wala silang alam sa pagtatayo ng mga road obstruction na ‘yan. It is just proper that they rectify their actions by cooperating to the clearing operations of the local government unit.” 

Barangay halls erected on sidewalks should be self-demolished by the Barangay officials, Malaya added.

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