Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today said that Manila’s bus ban should provide the impetus for the convening of a Metro Manila summit that will tackle the flood, traffic and “the region’s other interlocking problems” and “to kick-start the preparation for the country’s hosting of the APEC Leader’s Summit in 2015.”
“In every crisis, there is an opportunity, and the city order preventing buses from plying Manila’s streets should prod Metro Manila mayors and heads of national government agencies to sit down and discuss how to jointly solve the problems of this megapolis of12 million residents,” Recto said.
“There are management collaboration issues in an area where operations of 17 local governments sometimes overlap with the work and mandate of national government offices,” he said in backing calls by some Metro Manila mayors that such a summit be called.
“Sa kaso nga ng bus franchises, mismong ang MMDA ay hindi alam kung ilan ang prankisang naibigay na ng LTFRB para sa ruta sa EDSA,” he said.
“At sa pagbibigay naman ng mga prankisa, walang konsultasyon sa mga local na pamahalaan, kung ang carrying capacity ba ng mga lungsod ay kaya pang i-absorb ang mga buses,” Recto said, in citing “one symptom of the sometimes dysfunctional state of intra-government coordination.”
Recto said the convening of a Metro Manila summit also becomes urgent when seen in the light of the country’s plan to host the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2015.
While the host city, or cities, has yet to be chosen, Metro Manila, as the nation’s capital and gateway, will play a major role in it.
“Ang tanong handa na ba tayo? Sapat na rin ba ang 15 buwan para ayusin ang ating kalsada, airport, at mga pasilidad para tanggapin ang dagsa ng mga bisita,” he said. “Gawin natin ang mga issues na bumabalot sa NCR bilang opportunidad na maagang ayusin ang mga ito.”
“Or if you want to be specific about names, will we be ready by then to roll out the red carpet when the likes of Obama, Putin, Xi Jinping and 16 other heads of state, and their senior leaders, come visiting?” Recto said.
The APEC Leaders Summit is but one of four high profile events the country is hosting from 2014 to 2017. The other three are the World Economic Forum’s East Asia Summit in 2014, the 2016 ASEAN Tourism Forum and the 2017 ASEAN Summit.
On the APEC Summit alone, it will be preceded by 17 high-level meetings, each having attendees ranging from 250 to 4,000.
While hosting duties of the four summits might be shared among 10 cities, and it is even possible that the APEC Leaders meeting will be held outside Metro Manila, “it is a foregone conclusion that Metro Manila must still prepare for the influx of delegates and world media,” Recto said.
“For Metro Manila to prepare for these four summits, there must first be summit on Metro Manila,” Recto said.
“But that is a secondary motivation. Regardless of APEC and whether the 21 leaders are coming to town or not, we must still fix things for the sake of our people. They should be the number one reason, and not because some aliens are flying into town,” he said.
“We need to solve the traffic mess and the constant flooding, ensure the humane relocation of informal settlers, and the improve rail services, not because of some international commitments, but because that is what we owe our people,” Recto said.
He explained that the earlier the Metro Manila summit is called “the better so whatever needs to be done can be considered in the 2014 national budget, which both houses of Congress will start hearing next month.”
“Kung kailangan i-jumpstart ang preparations, e dapat ang gastusin ay kalakip na sa 2014 budget. Kasi kung sa 2015 na, sa tingin ng marami, medyo huli na, “ Recto said.