Gov’t Prepares for Christmas Season Traffic; Steps up Anti-smuggling Campaign, 26 Nov. 2016

Christmas is a still a month away, and already, at this time, the government is making preparations to counter the worsening traffic situation in the Metropolis which is expected to worsen during the Yuletide season.

Metro Manila Development Authority officer-in–charge Thomas Orbos today said that the government is looking at ways and means to decongest traffic as he noted that there is an increase of 30% in traffic congestion during the season.

At a press briefing in Malacañan on Friday, Nov. 25, Orbos said the main issue surrounding the MMDA is traffic. The MMDA has been tasked by the Interagency Council on Traffic, of which it is a member, to try and look for ways and means to help decongest traffic in the short term.

The MMDA head mentioned some of the short term projects which his agency has implemented for the past three months.

“Primarily, we have implemented the no-windows hours along major roads. This is an addition to the current number coding that we had and this includes the major roads, such as EDSA, C5, Recto, Quirino Avenue, Araneta, C6, Roxas Boulevard, Taft Avenue, SLEX, Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Avenue, Magsaysay, Aurora, Quezon Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, A. Bonifacio, Rizal Avenue, Del Pan, Marcos Highway, MacArthur Highway, Alabang-Zapote Road, Samson Road, and A. Mabini Street,” he said.

Orbos said that since this was implemented, the speed especially at EDSA, has been shortened by at least 10 minutes.

“We started this about a month ago and despite the influx or the expected traffic congestion nearing Christmas, we have maintained the 10-minute up speed travel time,” he said.

The traffic official said in his talks to Secretary Arthur Tugade, the MMDA has also started making discussions, consultations with the stakeholders in the hope of reducing traffic.

“We have talked to mall owners and adjusted mall hours from 11 Am to 11 PM starting Nov.1, 2016. We also asked them not to implement anymore any weekday sale which we know, has been always the cause traffic, especially on a Friday, on a payday, you would have mall sales,” said Orbos.

He also said that they made representations with the utility companies and even with the Department of Public Works and Highways to ask them to have a moratorium on road repair which began on Nov.1 and will last up to January 9.

The MMDA OIC also said that instead of private villages they have asked several government properties to open up their routes and they started this with Camp Aguinaldo which will ease the traffic coming from Katipunan and Marikina going to EDSA.

At the same press briefing in Malacanan, Ret. Col. Neil Anthony Estrella, acting Customs Spokesperson, gave an update on the Bureau’s activities, particularly on enforcement operations with emphasis on their anti-smuggling campaign.

He said the bureau, for the month of November, seized various counterfeit products in Pasay City, Bulacan and Pangasinan areas totaling to about Php 775 million.

Estrella revealed the tough stance of the bureau against smuggling which deprives the government of additional revenue collections. BOC will remain tough against smuggling. And as the country improves its maritime capability, the government will pursue the smugglers to the farthest borders of the country.

The Bureau has confiscated around Php1.173 billion worth of various kinds of illegal drugs in different operations which was conducted from July to mid-November in support of the government’s war against illegal drugs. Confiscated illegal drugs included Php 927 million worth of shabu obtained in 11 operations, Php17 million worth of ecstasy obtained in follow up operations and Php 227.7 million worth of cocaine obtained in eight operations.

For the month of October 2016, Customs generated revenue collection of Php 33.365 billion. This is Php 39 million higher compared to the amount collected for the month of September 2016 said the spokesman.

Meanwhile for the first 15 days of November, the BOC has already reached 52% of its Php36.495 billion assessed target. The bureau has so far collected Php18.9 billion and is expected to surpass for November given these indicators.

At the same press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella denied that the President’s order for all military to stay in their camps is some kind of loyalty check for them not to join any public protest.

“That is exactly the opposite, I think. He trusts the public to be able to handle themselves properly and he is allowing for them a democratic protest,” Secretary Abella said.###PND