DILG, PNP should look into LGUs’ road clearing claims

September 17, 2019

LESS than two weeks before DILG Secretary Ed Año’s deadline for all Local Government Units to clear all road obstructions in their areas officially expire, it’s a welcome note that the Agency is not taking ‘hook, line and sinker’ claims being made by some LGUs that they are now fully compliant with President Duterte’s order.

Why?  It seems to me that many roads in Pasig and Quezon City which I regularly use on my way to work are still not 100 percent ‘cleared’ of obstructions, most especially concrete house extensions built on the sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to literally play  dangerous ‘patintero’ with speeding  motorcycles and motor vehicles because the sidewalks are literally missing.

I haven’t seen any improvements in those roads including some near P. Tuazon in Cubao or along Santolan Road near Camp Crame in  Q.C. where tall concrete fences have been erected on the sidewalks and are yet to be demolished as promised by local authorities.

In some parts of Pasig City, like in Barangay dela Paz near Marcos Highway, there are still many streets where sidewalks are literally missing since concrete house extensions have been erected on them, yet to be demolished too. These should be inspected by concerned DILG officials.

Thus, it’s heartening to note that the DILG is still in the process of validating the LGU’s full compliance with the road-clearing directive of the President. According to DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, they have not yet declared any local government unit in the country, including those in Metro Manila, as being 100 percent fully compliant with the Presidential Directive and the Department’s Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2019-121 to clear their respective roads of illegal structures and constructions.

Malaya said the DILG has not determined which LGUs are really fully compliant because the assessment of all LGUs will come after the 60-day deadline which will be this coming September 29.

“As stated in the DILG MC-121-2019, being fully compliant is not just about conducting road clearing operations in primary and secondary roads.  For an LGU to be declared as fully compliant, they should also enact or revisit ordinances related to road clearing and banning of illegal construction; prepare an inventory of roads within their jurisdiction; develop and implement displacement strategies; and cause the rehabilitation of recovered public roads.,” the DILG spokesman said.

According to Malaya, LGUs currently submit a report on their compliance on a weekly basis to the DILG Regional Offices which consolidate and submit the same to the DILG Central Office, particularly the Bureau of Local Government Supervision.

He explained that the data on the national summary of compliance with the MC is only based on “what is reported by the LGU” and is subject to validation by an assessment team from the DILG which is composed of officials from the DILG, the Philippine National Police,

Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the civil society.

Sec. Año, I learned  has also assigned DILG Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries to the regions to closely work and coordinate with the DILG regional directors and LGUs, monitor actions taken, and emphasize that the road clearing is national in scope.

“With more than two weeks to go before the deadline on September 29, the DILG enjoins all LGUs in the country, not just those in Metro Manila, to sustain the clearing of the roads for the benefit of the general public. Nonetheless, we are pleased that the road clearing is proceeding smoothly nationwide,” said Malaya.

“As Secretary Año has said, the real test of the performance of the Local Chief Executives lies in their consistency of maintaining the cleared roads beyond the September 29 deadline with the support of the police and the barangays,” the official added.

Right now, it seems to me that the PNP headed by General Oscar Albayalde is the only government agency serious enough to demolish all its illegal structures in the streets, specifically those built in sidewalks. In Metro Manila, NCRPO chief, Major General Gilor Eleazar said they are to demolish ore than 35 Police-Community Precincts and Community Police Assistance Centers which were found to be either obstructing sidewalks, located on center islands or encroaching on public roads.

“Remember, the instruction of the President is to reclaim public road that are being used for private ends but the point is, kailangan pa ring itama.

For the police to have moral ascendancy, it has to conduct the operations on the violators in their own agency first, meaning ‘sariling bakuran muna,’ said Eleazar.

However, the real ‘political will’ and the resolve of our officials to do the job will be  tested in their effort to go after people specifically Metro Manila residents who have  have made ‘our sidewalk’ s as their house extensions,  building concrete walls or steel structures in these paved public pathways  walkways.

I’d like to point out that still, there are tertiary roads and residential areas where even the sidewalks are being used as tiangge, parking area, sari-sari store and house extension.  Officials should not go far, they only have to drive outside of Camp Crame and visit the places’ i’ve mentioned. It’s really a tall order but if the DILG can really bring back all these ‘missing sidewalks’ by the end of the month, their job would be complete and they would be thanked by a grateful nation. Forget the curses expected from those who stole our sidewalks.