By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said on Monday that he may extend the suspension of the Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) if the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) would not approve the proposed amendments to the current plan.
In his regular press conference, Treñas said he intends to include the “first municipalities” or suburbs in Iloilo province (Leganes, Oton, Pavia, San Miguel, etc.) in the amended LPTRP.
He said he was informed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that this may be approved if the Iloilo provincial government makes a request, which he says the city government would not object to.
He added that he hopes the city council can approve the amendments before August 22, 2022 which is the end of the LPTRP’s suspension period.
But if the LTFRB does not approve the plan within the 45-day suspension period, which started on July 8, Treñas said that he may extend the suspension period until the eventual approval.
“If within the 45 days [suspension period], [the amendments] could not be finished, then we’ll suspend [the LPTRP] for such period until it will be approved by the LTFRB. But it is important that the [jeepneys from] the first municipalities would be able to enter, because that gave us the bulk of the problems,” the mayor said.
As to the Sangguniang Panglungsod’s resolution urging him to hold a transport summit on the LPTRP, he called it “unnecessary” and a “waste of time, paper, and effort”.
The mayor said that the council’s transport committee chairperson, Councilor Sedfrey Cabaluna, may freely approach his office on related matters.
He also said that if Cabaluna felt the need for a summit, then the council itself may call for the summit.
“Resolutions urging me are not necessary because I am available to anyone. If [Cabaluna] of the committee concerned feels that there is a need for a summit, then he calls for a summit. It’s a legislative action now, because I will just follow. I am the implementing arm of the city,” he said.
But as for the chief executive, Treñas did not see the need for such a summit citing ongoing consultation sessions, which he said were not even being attended to by the public.
“We have been going around the city doing additional consultations, and unfortunately with the additional consultations, in other instances, no one is coming,” he stated.
He also mentioned that transportation chief Jeck Conlu is already arranging a consultation with provincial town mayors at the provincial capitol to hear their thoughts on the city’s LPTRP which may affect them as well.
In relation to the city’s transport woes, the city government inked a deal with the LTO, LTFRB, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the University of the Philippines Visayas, among others, to set up a ‘traffic academy’ to professionalize traffic enforcers.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will likewise travel to the city to assist in the training, which will be done by batch.
Treñas mentioned that Conlu has identified the Technical Institute of Iloilo City (TIIC) campus in Barrio Obrero in Lapuz district as the site of the said academy.
After the training, the mayor said that their priority in hiring future traffic enforcers would be “young, male, and has finished at least 2 years in college”.
CLEARING OPERATIONS AND SPAGHETTI WIRES
Treñas also discussed the city’s ongoing clearing operations and the impending placement of telecommunications and electricity wires underground.
He said that the chief complaint of private property owners and city officials is that those who were pushed out due to the road clearings return once the coast is clear.
He also cited his own experience at Rizal Street near the Iloilo Terminal Market, which was always being cleared but vendors and patrons keep returning.
“It’s always being complained that after clearing, they return, so we just have to do this every day. The area where I pass by, Rizal [Street] behind the terminal market, has already been cleared but there are people [cleared out] who have been coming back. So, we just have to do it every day,” he said.
Despite that, he said that he was happy about the clearing operations, and that he hopes that vendors would opt to procure space once the markets are fully rehabilitated.
“I think, on the whole, it has been doing well. I am very happy about the clearing operations, because the roads are for the cars and the bicycles and the motorcycles, and they are not for selling wares. Our markets are under repair, and there will be space for everyone,” he remarked.
As to the “spaghetti wires” or tangled utility wires and cables of telecommunications and electricity providers, he said that the city council has already approved the underground cabling process.
He cited that the city’s power distributor, MORE Power, will spend around P100 million for the “undergrounding” of all the wires in the city’s downtown area and along Benigno Aquino Sr. Avenue or Diversion Road.
The cost would be passed on to consumers in the next couple of years.
The mayor likewise said that undergrounding will start after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approves of MORE Power’s plan and design.