By Corina Oliquino i FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA – The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) through Undersec. Epimaco Densing threatened Metro Manila mayors of suspension if they fail to address the issue of traffic congestion in their jurisdiction within 60 days.

Densing said their Department will issue a memorandum order requesting all the mayors to submit their road network, road audit and their plans on clearing the streets.

The order followed President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to “claim all public roads” during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22, asking the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and other officials to immediately solve the Metro’s traffic problem.

“I reiterate my directive, my request, my pleadings to the MMDA and all concerned local officials in Metro Manila, and all other cities, to undertake immediate action to ensure the speedy and smooth flow of vehicular traffic,” Duterte said in his speech.

“This is in coordination with the local chief executives natin, importante dito magawa kaagad ito immediately because this is really an order from the President and we really just have to comply,” Densing told The Philippine Star.

“Ang sabi ni Presidente, once na nag-investigate kami, malinaw na may neglect of duty, wala nang dalawang salita, pipirmahan niya agad yung suspension,” Densing added.

Meanwhile, in a meeting with the MMDA last July 25, Metro Manila mayors agreed on clearing all national roads and roads being used for private means within two months.

Duterte also told DILG Sec. Eduardo Año to strictly enforce his directive, noting the economy loses P3.5 billion daily due to traffic.

“The inventory of road network can be audited so that we can identify which road network has congestion because of sidewalks and streets being occupied by illegal structures or illegal occupants,” Densing said, noting traffic is still within the MMDA’s main mandate and they are just a supporting agency.

Moreover, MMDA Chair Gen. Danilo Lim, who presided the meeting, urged the mayors to start clearing national roads first then Mabuhay lanes.

“For the identified routes, no parking and illegal structures must be allowed then we can deal with the side streets later,” Lim said, suggesting converting open spaces into parking area for motorists who do not have space to park their vehicles.

Going smoothly
In another report by GMA News, Año claimed on July 27, Metro Manila Mayors are so far compliant with the Department’s order to clear all public roads within two months.

“It’s going on smoothly,” he said in a text message.

“The mayors are cooperative, willing and (will) comply. We’ll do it in 60 days,” he added.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, Pasay Mayor Emmy Calixto and San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora all said the 60-day deadline is both reasonable and doable while Undersec. Densing called for a 45-day road-clearing initiative.