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The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday to consider filing election offenses against erring candidates who would cause unnecessary traffic jams in any of their street campaign activities.
This came as the MMDA's call to the poll body to regulate campaign motorcades this election season.
“This will not be a mere traffic violation but an election offense. We should make them realize the effect to the traffic flow of holding motorcades in major roads, especially when these are not coordinated to the proper agencies,” MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said.
Underscoring the gravity of the traffic problems caused by campaign motorcades, Tolentino said Comelec should treat this act as a serious election offense, punishable, in most serious cases, by disqualification.
“We should draft and implement strict guidelines in the holding of such activity, and any form of violation should be taken seriously, regardless of political affiliations. The candidates’ right to campaign is not absolute,” the MMDA chief said.
Tolentino met with Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes last Wednesday to convey the MMDA’s desire to be deputized to assist the poll body in regulating the use of major thoroughfares in Metro Manila for campaign motorcades and caravans.
In its petition filed before the Comelec, MMDA pointed out that several election campaigns, caravans, rallies and other similar election-related activities are being carried out in major thoroughfares in Metro Manila greatly affect the “already congested flow of traffic along major thoroughfares.”
“To mitigate the effects of traffic congestion brought by election-related activities, there is a necessity to regulate the conduct of election-related activities, particularly motorcades and caravans along major thoroughfares of Metro Manila,” the MMDA chief said.
The major roads identified by the MMDA are Edsa, C-5, Quezon Avenue, Marcos Highway, Commonwealth Avenue, Espana Boulevard, E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, President Quirino Avenue, Aurora Boulevard, Ortigas Avenue, Shaw Boulevard, MIA Road, Domestic Road, Roxas Boulevard, Araneta Avenue, AH. Lacson Street, Rizal Avenue and A. Bonifacio Avenue.
Tolentino clarified that the MMDA only wants to regulate the time and duration of a campaign motorcade so the agency would be able to come up with the necessary preparations to avert any potential traffic problem.
“All we’re concerned of is the holding of these campaign caravans in major roads. It is not our intention to control the candidates’ campaign, particularly on where to set up the stage for proclamation rallies and other campaign-related activities,” he added.
Just like common poster areas, Tolentino said the Comelec should also set up common rally areas so it would not hamper the free flow of traffic.