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Palace: Edsa traffic now PNP's concern.

Will the police succeed where traffic constables of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) failed?

Stressing the need to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis-particularly on its busiest thoroughfare President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday appointed the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) of the Philippine National Police the lead traffic law enforcement agency on Edsa.

In a meeting at Malacanang, the President also ordered the MMDA, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to support the PNP-HPG.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters that traffic teams from the government agencies [would] start mobilizing as soon as possible.

After the meeting presided over by the President, it was agreed that priority action [would] be taken to clear six major intersections that [were] considered traffic congestion 'choke points' [on] Edsa, he added.

These were Balintawak in Caloocan City, Cubao in Quezon City, Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City, Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City, Guadalupe in Makati City and Taft Avenue in Pasay City.

Among the immediate action steps agreed upon were stricter enforcement of the bus lanes along Edsa; clearing of obstructions on the highway and alternate routes and continuing consultations with bus and other public utility operators, truckers and other port stakeholders, Coloma said.

During the meeting, Mr. Aquino ordered the review and fine-tuning of action proposals on easing traffic congestion and the submission of detailed implementation plans that take into account the need for holistic solutions, unified action among concerned government agencies and heightened awareness to ensure citizen participation, he added.

Among the government officials at the meeting were Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, National Economic and Development Authority head Arsenio Balisacan, PNP chief Director Gen. Ricardo Marquez, Interior Undersecretary Austere Panadero and MMDA chair Francis Tolentino.

Tolentino, meanwhile, said he was in favor of the move following several incidents of MMDA constables being killed while on duty by errant drivers.

This was a collective idea to have stricter enforcement of traffic laws on Edsa since members of the HPG are armed, he told reporters, adding that the move was also part of the government's preparations for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November.

According to him, the MMDA will still deploy traffic constables on Edsa but to respond only to accidents or stalled vehicles.

The other traffic enforcers who will be removed from Edsa will be transferred to C-5 Road, Quezon Avenue and other areas where there are ongoing [road projects], Tolentino said.

About 500 of the agency's traffic constables are assigned to man Edsa's 23.8-kilometer-long stretch.

The past weeks have seen worsening traffic gridlock in the metropolis, particularly on Edsa and C-5 Road, prompting an apology from Malacanang.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Sep 2, 2015
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