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MMDA general manager Arturo Jojo Garcia (left), Edsa Special Traffic and Transport Zone head Edison Bong Nebrija (right), and other MMDA officials hold a press conference on granting the MMDA police powers. / PNA

MMDA seeks police power to enforce traffic policies

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The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said it is seeking “police power” to craft effective traffic policies and strengthen the authority of traffic enforcers in sanctioning erring motorists.

Arturo “Jojo” Garcia, MMDA general manager, made the clarification after Edsa Special Traffic and Transport Zone head Edison “Bong” Nebrija reportedly asked for police powers "out of frustration."

However, Garcia said such power would be an effective deterrent against repeat traffic policy offenders.

“Na-frustrate lang talaga si Bong. Kasi nga meron talaga tayong mga driver ng bus na ang huli ay 70, 80 plus. Sana nga kung tatlong huli, i-confiscate natin 'yan para at least madala -- hindi makakapag-hanap buhay 'yan (Bong just got frustrated because we really have bus drivers who have been sanctioned 70 or 80 plus times. Maybe after three apprehensions, we could confiscate their license so they would realize their mistakes — they won’t be able to make a living),” Garcia said during a press conference at the MMDA main office in Makati City.

He said their enforcers are authorized to confiscate an erring motorist’s license but only in certain situations.

“Right now, we are authorized to confiscate license(s) on certain violations. Colorum vehicles, out of line, counter-flow or reckless, and kung may aksidente (if there’s an accident),” Garcia said.

Police power does not necessarily mean giving firearms to their enforcers or simply more power to confiscate licenses, Garcia said, noting that it also includes empowering the Metro Manila Council (MMC) to be able to issue traffic policies that could override local ordinances for uniform traffic laws across the metro.

“We have 17 local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila. Each LGU has (its) own city ordinance. So sometimes, hindi pare-pareho 'yan (they are not uniform). So magkakaroon kami ng legislative power, mas masusunod 'yung resolution ng MMC (If we have legislative power, the MMC resolution would be followed),” Garcia said.

He said former MMDA chair and incumbent Marikina City 1st District Rep. Bayani Fernando attempted to push a resolution through the MMC, which would give their traffic enforcers authority to confiscate a license after three traffic violations but was rejected in court.

“'Yan po kinontest sa court. Natalo ang MMDA kasi nga we don't have the police power to legislate. So 'yun po ang ibig sabihin ni Bong diyan (That was contested in court. The MMDA lost because we don’t have the police power to legislate. So that’s what Bong meant),” Garcia said.

In a television interview last Wednesday, Nebrija said laws granting the MMDA enforcement powers were lacking, keeping their traffic enforcers from being effective deterrents against traffic violators.

He said some bus drivers have a lot of unpaid traffic tickets -- some with almost a hundred violations – due to non-contact apprehensions, but are still able to drive around Metro Manila.

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