In the spotlight: Orbos speaks about MMDA reforms, new plans, and issue updates

The MMDA Officer-in-Charge reports on the agency's plan for 2017 -- after all, the solution to traffic needs is truly a serious matter

To kick-start the new year, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officer-in-charge Thomas “Tim” Orbos in a press forum updates the public on the agency’s goals and concerns this 2017.


Partnership with the private sector
Orbos said officials of Ayala Land Inc. have agreed to open Vertis North in Quezon City for light vehicles passing through the northbound leg of EDSA going to North Avenue and Balintawak. The scheme is foreseen to decongest a portion of EDSA in Quezon City by allowing motorists to pass through Vertis North instead of traversing the highway. In Makati, MMDA is looking to open an access road from the South Superhighway near the Philippine National Railway (PNR) Magallanes station in Makati to provide more lanes going to EDSA.

Mulls solutions to illegal parking
Orbos noted that one of MMDAs priority this year is to solve the continuing illegal parking on both major and secondary roads, among major reasons of traffic congestion in Metro Manila. Orbos also said MMDA will further improve and professionalize its towing service.

Even without the emergency powers
There is regret on the time wasted over the delay in the granting of emergency powers, but Orbos said the wait also has pushed them to work with whatever powers they have. Orbos also said the biggest challenge for the MMDA is the management of vehicles crowding Metro Manila every day. He also admitted the government’s lack in personnel and proper equipment to solve traffic. The MMDA, with 7,000 workforce, promised to do its best in managing the increasing vehicular volume in the National Capital Region, now at 2.5 million, and provide relief to the tremendous productivity losses of the metropolitan population.

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) officer-in-charge Thomas “Tim” Orbos

Inside job?
There will be a continuous investigation on the MMDA headquarters fire incident last January 13, which destroyed paperwork from the Commission on Audit (COA). Orbos said the fire destroyed 20 percent of MMDA records from 2014 to 2016. He refused to state whether the records of his predecessor, Atty. Francis Tolentino, were included in the documents destroyed. However, Orbos noted that he doesn’t want to eliminate the possibility of an inside job considering the strange circumstances that happened during the incident: smoke detector installed at the ceiling inside the room failed to work and employees only noticed white smoke coming from the room. The MMDA Head ensured that there will be people who are going to be held accountable for the incident.

Coding scheme
MMDA will be implementing the extension of the ‘no window hours’ traffic scheme for private vehicles until January 31, 2017 to further ease the traffic congestion in Metro Manila. The agency is also considering to permanently lift the window hours as it has improved travel time along EDSA and other major thoroughfares in the metropolis. Orbos also said the 'odd-even' number-coding scheme may be too drastic a measure to be implemented. He added that he had thought of implementing the scheme at least along EDSA, but upon consultation to stakeholders found that the measure would be too drastic and not doable yet.

No disruption
Although the Miss Universe pageant is not a major responsibility of the MMDA, the department will provide assistance in ensuring that there will be no disruption of traffic in Metro Manila during the event. Orbos said that there will be no traffic rerouting given that the pageant activities are concentrated in a single location.

Quality over quantity
Orbos admitted that MMFF 2016 revenues have earned only 50 percent of what had been garnered in previous years, but said he still considers the 2016 film fest successful for showcasing quality films. Orbos stressed that differences between mainstream and independent films should not be an issue, instead, measures to bridge the big gap between the independent community and the commercial industry should be continuously explored. He also said that quality must always be the core of the criteria in screening the entries. Asked to evaluate Mocha Uson’s performance as ambassador of the film fest, Orbos said he thinks Uson was an effective ambassador. Orbos said that the blogger’s huge following allowed her to promote the MMFF entries without a taint of political color.


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