ICYMI: New curfew hours, no more ‘financing-only’ schemes, proposed Skyway BRT

The week in review
by TopGear.com.ph | May 1, 2021
PHOTO: Shutterstock, Jerome Ascaño, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation

MMDA: Community pantry organizers must coordinate with LGUs

“The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has issued a resolution urging community pantry organizers to coordinate with their respective local government units to ensure health and safety protocols are adhered to.

Resolution No. 21-08 acknowledges the good intent behind community pantries, calling organizers ‘truly worthy of emulation, support, and praise,’ but stresses that maintaining public health standards ‘must remain paramount’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the order doesn’t impose any strict guidelines or regulations regarding setting up community pantries, it does urge organizers to work more closely with authorities in their implementation. The resolution has been signed by MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos, as well as several Metro Manila mayors.

“Last week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) made a similar call for better communication between community pantries and authorities, too, saying it is part of the organizers’ responsibility to ensure health and safety guidelines are met.

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“‘The community pantry has been a traditional practice in our country as part of Bayanihan culture and spirit especially in the times of calamities and disasters. Iba-iba lang ang pangalan. In the spirit of Bayanihan, many Filipinos have been doing selfless acts of kindness since last year,’ the official said.

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“‘The [Philippine National Police] and/or local officials may just come in if there is any violation of law, if there are complaints from the community, or if the organizers seek their help. The LGUs, barangays, and the PNP are ready to provide utmost assistance to ensure orderly distribution to the public.’”

How does a Skyway BRT system sound to you?

“The San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is far from finished with developing the Skyway. Its latest plan? To implement the country’s first and only bus rapid transit (BTR) system on the elevated expressway.

“That’s right—a BRT is now in SMC’s pipeline. The company made the announcement the past week, saying a BRT system will ‘drastically improve commuting for Filipinos, and support sustainable transportation.’

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“In a statement, SMC bared that the Skyway BRT will function like trains, ‘ferrying large numbers of passengers at a time and stopping only at designated stations at set intervals.’ The company added it will resemble a high-capacity point-to-point (P2P) bus system.

“The goal is for the Skyway BRT to stretch from Susanna Heights in Muntinlupa all the way to Balintawak. No details are set in stone just yet, but SMC boss Ramon S. Ang shared that a BRT has been in SMC’s plans as far back as 2017, and that discussions regarding the project are set to begin already.

“Ang added that the Skyway BRT is a ‘viable solution’ that is ‘highly scalable.’ Perhaps most important, Ang the platform—the Skyway—for such a system is already in place, and that future projects may include BRTs as well to expand coverage.

“‘We believe our elevated expressways are critical to solving Metro Manila congestion, which we can only expect to worsen in the coming years as our population and our economy grow,’ he said. ‘We can’t afford not to take action now, and we can’t make do with temporary or inadequate fixes anymore.’”

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The opening of the BGC-Ortigas Bridge has been delayed...

“Some bad news: The opening of the Santa Monica-Lawton Bridge, also referred to as the BGC-Ortigas Bridge, has been delayed.

“The upcoming piece of infrastructure is opening in June instead of May. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) head Mark Villar shared the new project timeline on Facebook over the weekend, saying the agency is targetting to open the structure partially on Independence Day, June 12.

“Good news? Villar shared the update during his first drive-through of the BGC-Ortigas Bridge. The official entered via the project’s Kalayaan side and ends the video a short while later near Brixton Street on the Pasig side.”

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...as is the opening of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge

“DPWH secretary Mark Villar has shared that the opening of the new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge has been pushed back to July instead of June.

“The new piece of infrastructure was originally supposed to be finished in December 2020. Due to complications brought on by the pandemic, its completion was delayed to June, and, well, here we are. Earlier this month, the agency said that work on the bridge was being fast-tracked to meet its adjusted deadline.

“Once the new Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge is done, the four-lane structure is expected to cut travel time between Mandaluyong and Makati City to only 12 minutes. It’s also being projected to accommodate as many as 50,000 vehicles per day.”

How soon will the ‘three-strike policy’ for RFID users take effect?

“Do you still remember the Toll Regulatory Board’s ‘three-strike policy’? The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the measure, which will penalize motorists who attempt to pass through RFID lanes with insufficient load in their RFID accounts, were approved on February 1. But due to the suspended implementation of 100% cashless tollways, the roll-out of the policy was also put on hold.

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“The past few days, however, you may have noticed the information drive on the three-strike policy being carried out by Metro Pacific Tollways (MPTC) on the toll roads that it operates. Is this a sign that the controversial policy will soon be implemented, despite complaints from motorists?

“‘Hindi naman po,’ said Arlette Capistrano, spokesperson of MPTC-South.

“In support of Toll Regulatory Board’s announcement last February 2, we are helping motorists understand the three-strike policy with this communication campaign,’ she continued, ‘so they may practice the proper use of the RFID lanes and maintain their RFID accounts in good standing to avoid inconveniences.’

“Capistrano wasn’t able to give an exact date as to when the three-strike policy will be implemented, but according to the IRR, it will kick in six months after the IRR’s approval. Going by this, implementation will start on August 1. The TRB has also directed MPTC and SMC Tollways to conduct an information campaign before the policy’s implementation.”

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No more ‘financing-only’ car and motorcycle sales schemes allowed

“Forcing car or motorcycle buyers to purchase their preferred vehicles via financing has been a common practice among dealerships for quite some time now, especially among motorcycle dealers. But now, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has recently issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 21-03, or the Guidelines for Payment Options on the Purchase of Consumer Products and Services.

“The DAO emphasizes that consumers have the ‘right to choose’ and as such will be given various options, including modes of payment. This covers all entities engaged in the sale or offer for sale of consumer products and services.

“The order also explicitly states that the mandatory provision of payment options will likewise prohibit any person or company to offer any product or service via an installment-only payment scheme.”

“The DAO reads: ‘Consumers shall be given the option to pay in cash, in installment, or a combination thereof. Denial of the right of the consumer to pay in cash shall constitute a prima facie violation of Article 52 of the Consumer Act. Provided that the seller is not precluded from offering a discount from the selling price if the payment is made in cash. Provided further, that the selling price shall remain the same whether the mode of payment is through debit/credit/prepaid cards, QR codes, electronic fund transfers, or other digital means that are available to consumers.’

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“In addition, the DAO mandates that the payment options shall be posted in a conspicuous place within the business premises and must be presented in a manner that is easily understandable by consumers.

“Under the Consumer Act, violators will be imprisoned for a period of five months to one year or fined P500 to P10,000, or both. If you want to read the full document, click here.”

Utility works, especially on major roads, must be synchronized

“In a statement, the MMDA said that utility companies have been asked to submit an inventory of their respective road projects that includes a time frame. Firms must also secure a permit from concerned local government units, and are required to have a traffic management plan before proceeding with a dig.

“According to MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos, road diggings and repairs should be synchronized to ensure minimal hassle for motorists affected by them.

“‘The utility companies should conduct works on a particular area synchronously so that road diggings are not done repeatedly, except for emergency repairs,’ he stressed, adding that the MMDA and private companies must work together to execute a single traffic management plan.

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“MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia added that he shares the same sentiments as Abalos, and that the agency should be notified at least three days ahead of roadworks in order to be able to coordinate with the DPWH.”

MECQ curfew is now from 10pm to 4am

“The MMDA has announced changes to the capital’s unified curfew schedule. Under MMDA Resolution No. 21-09 Series of 2021, signed by all Metro Manila mayors, the curfew is now 10pm to 4am instead of 8pm to 5am, effective May 1.

“The new hours were decided upon based on recent Department of Health (DOH) data showing a 5% drop in reported COVID-19 cases in the first half of April 2021 following stricter quarantine implementation. As for what quarantine status Metro Manila will be in moving forward, MMS chairman Benhur Abalos said: ‘The MMC just recommends to the IATF. Hence, it is within the purview of President Rodrigo Duterte to decide on the next NCR status.’

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“He added that the MMC voted on three proposed quarantine measures: enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), or ‘hybrid or flex’ modified enhanced community quarantine.

“‘Hybrid MECQ is intended to allay the fear of health workers for a possible surge again. That’s why we want to do it gradually. By opening some businesses, we are also addressing the dilemma and hunger of those who lost their jobs,’ Abalos explained.”

Manila City mayor: Tao muna bago kalsada

“Manila City mayor Isko Moreno is warning motorists as early as now: Expect bumpy roads in the city for the foreseeable future.

“Toward the end of a Summit Media Sandwich Session group interview held last week, the mayor called the attention of Top Gear Philippines to announce some important news he wished to relay some important news to motorists.

“‘Uy, Top Gear, nakalimutan ko sabihin sa inyo ah. Magkakalubak ang Maynila ha, mga dalawang taon. Pinagpapauna ko na sa inyo. Most likely, lulubak ang Maynila. And I have to be fair with your readers. Baka makaranas kayo ng lubak,” Moreno told us.

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“Moreno explained that he has made the difficult decision to divert the city’s entire road-maintenance budget—about P3 billion—toward a new program created to help feed families in need during the pandemic. It’s called the COVID-19 Food Security Program (FSP). It will sustain around 700 families in the city over the next six months—hopefully until people get vaccinated. Once people get jabbed, Moreno said consumer confidence will slowly return, resulting in commerce, income, and jobs.

Bayaan niyo magkalubaklubak itong Maynila na ito, matitiis ng tao yan. Pero yung tao, pagdating ng alas dose, magugutom yan. Mayaman, middle class, mahirap. Pagdating ng alas siyete, ganun din. Tao muna bago kalsada. So we diverted everything, except for what is required by law.’”

Also from the same interview: Moreno on road users’ bad habits and the plan to make Manila a walkable city

Don’t trust FB pages offering license application assistance

“The Land Transportation Office (LTO) is warning the public of unofficial Facebook pages and groups offering driver’s license assistance.

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“‘Ang mga sumusunod na Facebook pages ay HINDI opisyal na Facebook page ng Land Transportation Office,” the agency said in a post.

“Fake LTO accounts mentioned include a page called LTO License Assistance and a group called Legit 100% driver’s license assistance, which both make use of the official LTO logo.

“Official government pages are usually verified with a blue checkmark beside the page title. If you’re scrolling through a profile or page without the checkmark, be wary as the information may come from a questionable source.”

The Silang East Interchange of CALAX will open by Q3

“The Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) is inching closer to completion. Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) has shared that the section linking Santa Rosa to Silang is already 93% complete.

“This specific portion of CALAX is called Subsection 5, a 7.2km 2x2 segment that links the Santa Rosa–Tagaytay interchange to the upcoming Silang East interchange. MPTC shared that toll structures at the Silang interchange are currently being erected, and other final preparations such as drainage construction are already underway. This subsection is targeted to be opened by the third quarter of 2021.

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“‘Once operational, we expect [this segment of] CALAX to serve around 5,000 motorists daily, thereby helping decongest traffic along Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway, and Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road,’ said MPCALA Holdings president and general manager Roberto Bontia. ‘It is also expected to help accelerate economic progress in Laguna and Cavite as it connects the two provinces of Region IV-A.’

“After the Silang East interchange, the remaining CALAX access points that have yet to be built are the Kawit, Daang Hari, Governor’s Drive, and Aguinaldo Highway interchanges. The DPWH estimates that the entire 45km stretch of CALAX will be completed by early 2022. The agency said that the expressway will serve about 45,000 cars daily, and that passage from one end to another will only take around 45 minutes.”

Back to regular hours: The LRT-2 resumes its normal operating schedule

“The LRT-2 resumed regular hours today on May 1 after weeks of truncated operations due to a high number of COVID-19 cases among personnel.

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“The first trains now depart from both Santolan and Recto stations at 5am. The last train from Santolan leaves at 8:30pm, while Recto’s last train departs at 9pm. Previously, the LRT-2 was open from 6am to 6pm only.

“Passengers are reminded to wear face masks plus face shields at all times. Frequent disinfection and proper physical distancing in the station and on trains will be strictly implemented.”

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PHOTO: Shutterstock, Jerome Ascaño, Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation
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