The House of Representatives is poised to pass a measure seeking to expand the powers and function of the Metro Manila Development Authority, especially of the Metro Manila Council.
This came after the House committee on Metro Manila Development, chaired by Rep. Winston Castelo of Quezon City, created a technical working group to study provisions of House Bills 4642 and 5057 which seek to amend Republic Act (RA) 7924, otherwise known as “An Act Creating Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Defining Its Powers And Function, Providing Funds Therefor And Other Purposes.”
HB 4642, authored by Castelo, seeks to grant MMDA additional powers and functions by amending Section 5 of RA 7924.
On the other hand, HB 5057, authored by Rep. Bayani Fernando of Marikina City aims to strengthen the MMDA by amending its charter.
Fernando, former MMDA chairman, said his bill if approved, will give the MMDA the power to enact ordinances and resolution which will have the full force and effect of a law among its member local government units upon ratification.
He said the MMDA is beset with problems as it could not push forward its projects and metro-wide programs that can address the problems of traffic, flood, garbage disposal, and waste management, among others.
Fernando said the MMDA lacks the legal authority to implement ordinances and resolutions that is acceptable to the courts.
“The collective wisdom of the voting members of the Metro Manila Council composed of 17 elected mayors, the president of the Vice Mayors League and the Councilor Leagues, complemented by representatives from all national government agencies cannot be effectively used in light of the limitations of its power as provided in RA 7924,” Fernando said.
Fernando, who served as MMDA chairman for eight years, explained that the MMDA is mandated under RA 7924 to lead traffic management efforts for the whole Metro Manila as well as to provide metro-wide services which are essentially services that have metro-wide impact and transcend local political boundaries or entail huge expenditures such that it would not be viable for said services to be provided by individual local government units comprising Metro Manila.
Since its creation in 1994, Fernando said the MMDA has conceptualized, proposed and implemented all types of metro-wide programs that has made life in the bustling metropolis easier, keeping at bay the chaos that threatens to overwhelm Metro Manila residents—be it traffic congestion, flooding garbage, pollution, and all other threats to public safety.
During earlier congressional hearings on the two measures, representatives of LGUs said they are not against the measure, but since the MMDA is not a political subdivision, it is not vested with the power to enact.B
But Castelo said when mayors convene as members of the Metro Manila Council, they are not acting as legislators but are being convened as elected executives in their localities.
“They are being convened as elected executives in their localities so if ever they would come up with an agreement, it would not arise from a function that is legislative in nature but they just convene there and find out and execute some ideas that would be consistent with their mandate as members of the Metro Manila Council,” said Castelo.
Rep. Edgar Erice of Caloocan City, however, argued that it is the sole mandate of the city council to approve ordinances and resolutions based on the Government Code.
“I do not think there will be a basis for the Metro Manila Council to approve an ordinance. I don’t see any provisions of the law that would allow that,” he said.
Erice added that he was once a councilor and a vice mayor, and as such, he would not want local policy to be implemented in his city without the approval of the city council.
He instead proposed the creation of a Metro Manila government so that the government will have the legal authority to legislate and implement ordinances and resolutions that would address the problems of garbage disposal, traffic congestion, water waste and waste management, among others, in Metro Manila.
But Fernando expressed the belief it would take a long time to pass a law to change the present set-up and suggested instead they should contend with the bills that will give the Metro Manila Council power so that the MMDA can move to address the problems immediately.
Castelo also said the measure contains a colatilla that once members of the Metro Manila Council approve a certain policy, it does not automatically become a law.