Construction of bike lanes along EDSA to start on June 13

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2020   •   728

MANILA, Philippines – The construction of protected bike lanes along EDSA, Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare, will begin on Saturday, June 13, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced Friday.

The DOTr made the announcement following Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s meeting with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, led by its chief Danilo Lim on Thursday, June 11.

During the meeting, the DOTr and MMDA agreed to start construction of bike lanes on June 13.

Tugade and Lim also decided to expedite the establishment of the protected bike lanes on the roads and not on sidewalks, as more people are shifting to this active mode of transport amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Our goal is to move people while making sure of their safety,” Tugade emphasized.

According to Lim, the bike lane would provide at least 1.5 meters of space for bikers.

The DOTr said the project will be done in two phases: the interim and long term.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier called on local government units to establish bike lanes and create a bike road network for the use of employees who are opting to ride a bicycle going to work amid limited public transportation.

Proposals seeking for the creation of protected bike lanes and emergency pathways as the public transitions to a “new normal” have also been filed in Congress.

MMDA spox Pialago says sorry but stands by post on detained activist Nacino

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2020

MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago

MANILA, Philippines – Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Celine Pialago on Monday apologized to detained activist Reina Mae Nacino for her controversial remark about her plight and her late infant, Baby River.

Pialago drew flak over the weekend for her social media post where she urged the public to know Nacino’s story first before sympathizing with her.

In her post on Sunday, Pialago criticized Nacino’s supporters, whom she said are turning her grief and plight into a “drama serye.”

Nacino, an urban poor organizer facing charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms, was only allowed by the court a few hours to attend the wake and burial of her three-month old infant.

Baby River died of pneumonia last Oct 9 while Reina Mae remained in detention. The infant was buried on Friday at the Manila North Cemetery, with critics blasting the strong presence of police and jail guards escorting Nacino.

Pialago apologized to those who thought her comment was insensitive to the plight of mothers who lost their child, but stressed she won’t take back her “drama serye” remark.

“When I posted drama serye, I didn’t mean na tratuhing drama yung hinagpis ni Reina it’s not that… I never meant na dapat hindi sya maghinagpis bilang isang ina. Nawalan rin ako ng mga mahal ko sa buhay, I know the feeling wag nating ilipat dun sa context na yun,” she said in an interview.

“Ang dating kasi nung iba dun sa sinabi kong drama serye wala na siyang karapatang maghinagpis kasi political prisoner siya. Ang dating wala na siyang karapatang bumisita eh binigyan nga sya ng furlough eh… nakikidalamhati kami sayo sa aspeto na yan dahil wala nang sasakit pa sa mamatayan ng anak,” she added.

She said she did not mean to attack Nacino’s grief with the loss of her baby when she used the term.

She also emphasized that the “drama serye” she was referring to were people who were “capitalizing” on Nacino’s situation to gain sympathy from the public and turn them against the government.

“Stop thinking doon sa mga hindi nakakaintindi. Stop thinking na I’m insensitive enough for them. Pero please, sana naman… Salamat doon sa mga nakakaintindi na ang pinupunto nung drama serye huwag palakihin, wag gamitin yung unfortunate situation para lang ma-highlight na mapang-api ang gobyerno,” she said.

Pialago also stressed that her comment is her own and not part of her role as MMDA’s spokesperson.

MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia echoed Pialago’s statement and assured that her opinion does not reflect the agency’s stand on the issue.

“Nagsalita siya at her own capacity, it’s not the stand of MMDA. Kung may personal opinion siya, it’s her right to say that,” Garcia said.

“I think Asec. Celine is responsible enough to handle yung ganitong klase ng mga situation,” he added.

Malacañang, meanwhile, refused to comment and would rather let Pialago handle the issue.

“Tingin ko po personal na opinion niya yan, hindi naman po kasi related sa MMDA yang issue, so hayaan po natin na magkaroon ng personal na opinion si Spokesperson Pialago,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Nacino and two others were arrested in Tondo, Manila in November 2019 for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives. She was one month pregnant at the time of her arrest.

She gave birth last July and was ordered separated from her baby in August despite her pleadings filed before Manila Regional Trial Court. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Overgrowth of water lilies suspends Pasig River ferry system

Marje Pelayo   •   October 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced on Tuesday (October 6) the temporary suspension of the Pasig River Ferry System due to overgrowth of water lilies and other aquatic plants that clog the river.

In a message to reporters, MMDA chief information officer Sharon Gentalian said the operations of the Pasig River Ferry System will remain suspended “until further notice.”

The overgrowth of water hyacinth has long been a problem affecting the overall operation of the ferry system as they clog the river especially during the rainy season blocking the way of barges and other vessels. 

Authorities say the water plants entangle the ferry’s propeller apart from pieces of trash already floating on the river, preventing boats from traveling at normal speed.

The MMDA revived the Pasig River system in April 2014 under then MMDA chair now Senator Francis Tolentino to decongest major roads in Metro Manila.

DOTr looking for other value card service providers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday said it is now looking for other automated fare collection system providers following the suspension of the mandatory use of Beep cards in the EDSA Busway.

The DOTr said it wants value card service providers that can give value cards to passengers in lower price or free of charge.

The value cards should also be interoperable or can be used in other forms of public transport.

According to Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has met with other service providers to discuss proposals about the implementation of cashless transactions.

“Yung direction ni Secretary Tugade dito at ng DOTr yung cashless transactions should be able to operate on an integrated manner and it should be inter-operable before the end of this year. So, that is the target,” she said.

“Ang sabi ni Secretary Tugade there should be no monopoly and we need to open the automated fare collection system to all providers but they should be able to integrate and operate the system for free,” she added.

Aside from value cards, the DOTr is also looking into the use of QR code-based electronic ticketing system on the EDSA Busway.

The suspension of the mandatory use of Beep cards came after its provider, AF Payments Inc. refused the DOTr’s request to cut the fee of Beep cards alone.

The AF Payments Inc., however, offered to give away 125,000 Beep cards free of charge to commuters who cannot afford one.

The DOTr welcomed the move but it still insists that the value cards should be given for free.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a public address late Monday night, said the Beep cards should be provided for free, adding that he will look for resources to fund the subsidized cards. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

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