ON HIS very first speech during an MMDA anniversary, Chairman Danilo Lim, who has been on the job only for the last five months, could not hide his amazement at how complex the MMDA's responsibilities have become.
The MMDA evolved from the Metro Manila Authority (MMA) which, in turn, originated from the Metro Manila Commission (MMC).
The MMDA performs planning, monitoring and coordinative functions involving Metro-wide services within Metro Manila.
These services include development planning, transport and traffic management, solid waste disposal and management, flood control and sewerage management, urban renewal, health and public safety.
But, according to Lim, the situation in Metro Manila today is very different.
The problems of the large metropolis have since magnified.
Metro Manila -- which embraces 16 cities and one municipality -- is now practically exploding with a population of close to thirteen million, which, in turn, produces 11,000 tons of garbage daily.
Close to a hundred new cars are added daily to the 2.5 million registered vehicles, not to mention to the thousands more which come from nearby provinces.
And yet resources allocated for MMDA have remained flattish through the years.
Roads and thoroughfares have not been expanded.
Manpower has stayed at around 10,000. Equipment have not caught up even with MMDA's basic requirements.
For instance, Lim cites the case of estero cleaners who have to improvise, using discarded electric fan screens tied to the end of long poles, to scoop up the trash in Metro Manila's esteros and waterways.
Traffic enforcers who are daily exposed to pollution, sun and dust, do not even have reflectorized vests.
Something has got to give.
And justifiably or not, MMDA gets the blame for everything which goes wrong in Metro Manila from traffic to floods, from kotong to potholes. Even for operations outside its mandate -- like MRT and skyway.
It would take a super-hero to fix Metro Manila, Lim said.
But for someone who is not about to shirk responsibility placed on his shoulders by his boss, Lim is determined to keep working and fighting, until the proverbial cavalry arrives.
Meanwhile, Lim announced, to the cheers of the MMDA staff present, that as an anniversary gift to MMDA employees and staff, he recently concluded a Memorandum of Agreement with Pru Life UK, extending a premium-free P100,000 accident insurance coverage for all MMDA employees for a period of one year.
Former MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino, who was also present during the 42nd MMDA anniversary celebration, points to some shining moments of MMDA, especially in emergency response.
Tolentino proudly recalls that MMDA's emergency response team was among the very first to arrive in Yolanda-stricken Tacloban and in other areas similarly afflicted by natural calamities.
On the side, Tolentino expressed elation that his ongoing electoral protest is proceeding well. The Senate Electoral Tribunal recently started opening the first 12(out of 635) contested ballot boxes. The opened boxes consisted of 9 ballot boxes from Quezon, 2 in Lanao and 1 in Calbayog.
The opened ballot boxes contained 2013 election returns, not those of 2016!
This tends to confirm his allegations, Tolentino said, that something was wrong in the way his votes were counted.
Former MMDA general manager Corazon Tecson Jimenez, who also attended the anniversary program, now keeps herself busy with solar energy projects. MMDA Counsel Justice Manuel Pamaran is still very much around, sprite and very witty.
As then Mayor of Muntinlupa, I had the privilege of serving (in a concurrent capacity) as Chair of the Metro Manila Authority (MMA), MMDA's immediate fore-runner.
At that time, the MMA chair was elected from among the 17 mayors of Metro Manila for a term of 6 months. I served for three consecutive terms from 1991 to 1992. My term was sandwiched between those of former Vice President /then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and former Quezon City Mayor Ismael Mathay.
The top metro problems then were garbage and traffic, in that order. Of course, the magnitude of the problems did not even come close to that of today's.
Focus at that time was the construction of the San Mateo sanitary land fill, which had an estimated shelf life of 7 years.
Together, with then Congressman Sonny Belmonte, we helped prepare the draft which eventually became RA 7924, or the Metro Manila Development Authority Law.
Among its provisions was for the appointment of a full-time chairman.
Prospero Oreta became MMDA's first chairman.
He was followed by: Jejomar Binay, Benjamin Abalos, Bayani Fernando, Oscar Inocentes, Francis Tolentino, Emerson Carlos (OIC), Thomas Orbos (OIC) and Danilo Lim.
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