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July 23, 2014

'Task Force Sentenaryo' Firms Up Traffic And Security Measures for INC’s Centennial Anniversary

Task Force Sentenaryo, a high-level task force headed by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, today announced its readiness for the upcoming 100th year anniversary celebration of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) on July 27 in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Tolentino said all the necessary traffic and security measures have been finalized to ensure the peaceful and orderly commemoration of the Iglesia Centennial Year, which is expected to be attended by up to three million INC members.

"In coordination with concerned government agencies, provincial municipal government of Bocaue, Bulacan, and the INC leadership, we have finalized our preparations for this big event," Tolentino, appointed by President Aquino to head the task force, said.

The traffic management measures firmed up by the task force cover the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), MacArthur Highway, Mindanao Avenue Extension and adjacent roads.

Tolentino said they expected INC members to arrive at the newly inaugurated Philippine Arena in Bocaue, the venue of the anniversary, a day before the event in at least 10,000 buses, 2,400 vans and Asian Utility Vehicles, and private vehicles.

The following areas have been designated as parking areas: Sta. Maria bypass; and Balagtas bypass along MacArthur Highway from Monumento to Calumpit, Bulacan. A portion of the Mindanao Avenue Extension will also be closed for parking purposes.

In case of traffic gridlock along NLEX, a "zipper lane" will be put up to enable northbound vehicles to counter-flow on the opposite lane and ease up traffic flow. Three areas have been already prepared for this with the help of NLEX authorities.

Tolentino said the task force has also suggested to the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to dedicate toll booths for Bocaue-bound vehicles and "prepaid toll fees" to hasten the entry of vehicles at NLEX.

He pointed out the possibility of heavy traffic at the SMART-connect interchange and NLEX towards the Arena, especially in the morning rush hours.

In preparation for the big event, Task Force Sentenaryo conducted a "Contingency Planning and Tabletop Exercise" on July 11 at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado suggested the use of Bulacan Medical Center and Rogacian M. Memorial Hospital for medical emergencies. General Carlito Romero of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) has been designated as crisis/emergency commander Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta of PNP Region 3 will act as traffic ground commander.

Tolentino likewise designated Chief Supt. Ricardo Marquez of PNP Headquarters at Camp Crame as overall operations officer.

"INC will also put up medical booths inside the Philippine Arena for its members," Tolentino added.

MMDA, for its part, has formed the 2,000-strong Metro Manila Public Safety Legion that will be deployed in Bocaue to maintain peace and order, implement a comprehensive traffic management plan during the event and do a post-activity cleanup at the site.

The legion is composed of traffic constables, rescuers and policemen coming from the 17 local government units in Metro Manila.

Two MMDA headquarters will also be set up in Marilao, Bulacan to respond to any type of emergencies, according to Tolentino.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, will send a company-sized military personnel for additional security, four M35 trucks, explosive and ordnance experts, and K-9 units.

"With all these preparations and contingency measures, we can assure our brothers and sisters in INC that their centennial celebration will be smooth and orderly," Tolentino said.

Aside from the 2,000-strong Metro Manila Public Safety Legion, Tolentino said 500 traffic personnel will also be deployed to assist delegates coming to and from the venue to augment elements from the Philippine National Police-Region 3 and the Northern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The contingent will be dispatched on the morning of July 26 and will be on duty until the evening of July 27.

The MMDA will also field its own rescue teams, mobile patrol and motorcycle units, and personnel from the Metro Parkways Clearing Group and Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group to strategic locations. The National Capital Regional Police (NCRPO) will help secure the routes to Bocaue and the billeting areas of INC members, according to NCRPO Director Carmelo Valmoria.

Providing additional muscle for traffic management and securing of staging and parking areas are the PNP-Region 3, 13 municipal governments of Bulacan, NLEX, and other private groups and volunteer associations, Tolentino said.

President Aquino has signed Memorandum Circular No. 66 creating Task Force Sentenaryo for the July 27 celebration of the religious group, with Tolentino as head.

Task Force Sentenaryo has been tasked to handle all actions and responses in connection with the INC event. Among its members are Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, AFP chief Emmanuel Bautista, and Philippine National Police Director Alan Purisima.

The others are Winston Ginez, chairman of LTFRB; Juan Sta. Ana, general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA); Jose Angel Honrado, Manila International Airport Authority general manager; Edmundo Reyes, executive director of the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB); and a representative from the INC.

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MAY 23, 2014

MMDA Extends Operating Hours of Pasig River Ferry Starting June 1

Starting June 1, before the opening of school year 2014-2015, the operating hours of the revived Pasig River ferry service will be extended to accommodate more passengers, especially students going back to school, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced today.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the ferry boats will operate from 6 am to 6 pm daily. Off-peak hours or lunch break period, meanwhile, will be shortened from 10 am to 3 pm to 12 noon to 2 pm, also starting on June 1.

"The Pasig River ferry service will now operate whole day as private boat operators will fully take over the project on June 1," Tolentino said.

At the same time, starting on June 2, additional 20 percent discount will be given to loyal passengers who will purchase in advance at least 10 tickets. This is on top of the regular 20 percent discount given to senior citizens, students, and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Tolentino said they hope to encourage the public to patronize the river ferry service.

Free rides were also given to passengers buying school supplies in Divisoria via the Escolta station, until May 24.

The ferry service, which resumed last April, services routes from Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City to Intramuros in Manila with two more stations (Sta. Ana, Manila and San Joaquin, Pasig City) set to open next month.

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MAY 20, 2014

In view of the 23rd World Economic Forum: MMDA To Implement One-Day Modified Truck Ban Along Roxas Boulevard and Osmena Highway on May 22

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be implementing a temporary modified truck ban scheme along Roxas Boulevard and Osmena Highway on Thursday, May 22, to give way to the upcoming 23rd World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia to be hosted by the Philippines.

The one-day modified truck ban hours along the two major roads are from 6 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 11 pm, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino announced today.

The regular truck ban hours, which are from 6 am to 10 am, and 5 pm to 10 pm, will be reinstated the next day, May 23, Friday.

"We would only like to assure the efficient mobility of the WEF delegates in our major thoroughfares, especially in Makati and Pasay areas where the forum's major events will take place," Tolentino said.

The international conference will be held from May 21 to 23 in different venues in Makati and Pasay.

WEF, Tolentino stressed, is an important platform to showcase Metropolitan Manila and the Philippines as a viable economic, financial, and investment hub for foreign visitors.

WEF is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship.

With the theme "Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress," WEF has chosen the Philippines as the host country being one of the "greatest economic comeback stories" in recent years with GDP growth projected to surpass 6.5%.

The meeting will serve as an ideal platform for participants to deliberate the opportunities of the ASEAN Economic Community to promote greater inclusion across East Asia and to instill more resilient decision-making in the face of unpredictable economic and natural disruptions.

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MAY 13, 2014

MMDA Issues Clarification on Truck Ban Suspension

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today clarified that despite the lifting of the truck ban eight days effective yesterday both in Manila and the rest of Metro Manila, the existing truck ban rules in the metropolis are not applicable in Edsa where total truck ban is still observed and along C-5, Katipunan, Commonwealth Ave. and all other routes.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino issued the clarification to dispel confusion among private port operators and truck drivers that because a similar eight-day moratorium on the modified truck ban was also implemented also starting yesterday by the city government of Manila, the existing truck ban rules in Metro Manila are likewise suspended.

"No, they are sadly mistaken. The nuances of the city of Manila's suspension of its truck ban is different from that of Metro Manila's, he stressed.

Tolentino explained that under Memorandum Circular No. 04 of the Metro Manila Council, truck ban hours in Metro Manila from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. shall be suspended in some routes and that the existing truck ban rules along Edsa, C-5, Katipunan, Commonwealth and other roads shall remain in force.

Both Manila and the MMC ordered the lifting of the truck ban in preparation for the 23rd World Economic Forum on May 21 to 23.

The MMDA chief likewise enumerated the following truck ban routes in Metro Manila where the truck ban is temporarily suspended :

  • South Truck Route
    From port area to SLEX – Bonifacion Drive, Left P. Burgos, Finance Road, Ayala Boulevard, right San Marcelino, left UN Avenue, right Plaza Dilao, right Pres. Quirino Extension, left Osmeña Highway
    From SLEX to Port Area
    SLEX right to Pres. Quirino, left to Plaza Dilao, left to United Nations, right Romualdez Street, left Ayala Blvd. P. Burgos, right Bonifacio Drive to Destination
  • North Truck Route
    From Port Area to NLEX
    From Bonifacio Drive turn right to C-3, turn left to A. Bonifacio to NLEX/Destination
    From NLEX to Port Area
    Balintawak to A Bonifacio, turn right to C-3, left to R-10 to Destination
  • Roxas Boulevard Truck Route
    From Port Area to Cavitex (Southbound only)
    From Pier take R-10 straight ahead Roxas Boulevard to Cavitex
    From Cavitex to Port Area
    From Cavitex take Roxas Boulevard turn right to Edsa, U-turn under Magallanes Interchange, take SLEX right to Pres. Quirino, left to Plaza Dilao, left to United Nations, right Romualdez Street, left Ayala Blvd. P. Burgos, right Bonifacio Drive to Destination.


The 24-hour truck routes shall not be applicable to EDSA, Katipunan, C-5 Commonwealth and all other routes not mentioned above.

The twenty-four hours Truck Routes shall be lifted on noon of May 20, 2014 and the MMDA Truck Ban Resolution implementing Truck Ban Hours in Metro Manila from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. everyday except Sundays and Holidays shall be reinstated, subject to Manila City Ordinance No. 8336

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MAY 12, 2014

MMDA Chairman Proposes the Creation of Escolta Redevelopment Administration

Following a meeting with the Escolta Heritage Association last week, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today proposed the creation of Escolta Redevelopment Administration to help revive the area as transport, tourism, business, and culinary heritage hub and to assist the City Government of Manila.

The idea came about after the reopening of the Escolta ferry station which made it more accessible to the public. It has been noted during the first two weeks of operation of the Pasig River Ferry System that Escolta was the most popular destination of passengers, and even tourists, going to Binondo (Chinatown) and Divisoria.

"This proposal is aimed to remember Escolta not just as a historical footnote but as part of the continuing Philippine economic progress," Tolentino said.

Escolta is one of the oldest streets in Asia and is known to be the country's first business capital and home to the oldest shops and boutiques selling imported goods from China and Europe. The street was lined with several fine examples of European architecture in the Philippines, rivaling famous European capitals such as Brussels in Belgium and Madrid in Spain.

By the late 19th century, Escolta prospered into a fashionable business district hosting the city's tallest buildings as well as the Manila Stock Exchange. Several movie companies, showbiz personalities, and legal luminaries started in Escolta.

Tolentino is proposing a body similar to the Intramuros Administration which was created by law to manage the restoration, reconstruction, and urban planning of the walled city which was already declared as historical heritage area.

According to the MMDA chief, he is willing to draft a bill seeking for the creation of such body to be endorsed to appropriate Congressional proponents.

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MAY 9, 2014

Early Mid-Year Bonus for MMDA Employees

More than 3,000 employees and officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) have every reason to be happy these days.

Permanent and casual MMDA personnel, especially fathers and mothers, are ecstatic over the early release of their mid-year bonuses which they said came in time for the enrolment of their children this coming school year.

The employees are particularly grateful to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino ordering the release yesterday of P34.2 million covering fifty percent of their mid-year bonuses based on their basic pay, including fifty percent of the yearly P5,000 cash gift as ordered by Malacañang.

"We are so glad that the Chairman had ordered the early release of our mid-year bonus at the time when we need it most," says Hope Barbers-Pereña of the Finance Department, a single mother of two adolescents studying in private high schools.

"Our workforce is more than deserving to get their bonuses much earlier than what was prescribed under the law because they are our valuable workers," Tolentino said.

This is the first time in recent years that an MMDA chairman ordered the early release of the said benefits to employees. The remaining half of the bonus will be released on or before November 15 this year.

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MAY 8, 2014

MMDA to Provide Free Ferry Service on Saturdays

To help parents buy school supplies for their children in Divisoria, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be providing free rides in the Pasig River ferry starting this Saturday, May 10.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the special free rides from Guadalupe, Makati City to Escolta, Manila, the nearest route to Divisoria, will only be from 8 am to 2 pm on May 10, 17, and 24.

"It will only be for three Saturdays to help parents go to Divisoria without hassle and at the same time reduce traffic congestion along roadways bound to and from Divisoria," Tolentino said.

The Pasig River ferry system, which started initial operation on April 28, is now on its second week of providing free rides to commuters. Thousands of passengers have patronized the river-based transport service.

As of this time, the regular ferry operation is only from Mondays to Fridays, plying Guadalupe, Makati; Pinagbuhatan, Pasig; and Escolta, Manila routes. Each passenger is insured for P250,000.

Free coffee and pandesal are also served to passengers at the terminals.

The ferry boat project aims to revive the Pasig River ferry system as an alternative solution to Metro Manila's traffic problems due to the number of road works.

The MMDA chief proposed the revival of the Pasig River system as a means to decongest Metro Manila's major roads affected by 15 road construction projects being implemented in the next two years, including the Skyway Stage 3. It is also aimed to boost Metro Manila's tourism and can be used for disaster and rescue purposes as well.

This alternative mode of transportation is an inter-agency effort being pushed by the DOTC, MMDA, and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).

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MAY 2, 2014

MMDA Extends Free Pasig River Ferry System Operations For One More Week

Due to insistent public demand, the free ride at the newly launched Pasig River Ferry has been extended for one week, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced today.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the extension of the "Libreng Sakay" starting on Monday, May 5, will enable the agency and the proponents of the revived ferry system to fine tune the operations of the mass transport system.

"Public acceptance of our Pasig River Ferry system is overwhelming. We are thankful that commuters now begin to realize the benefits of a fast and convenient transport system along Pasig River," Tolentino said.

Launched on April 28, the river ferry operations have attracted at least 5,000 commuters, with the Guadalupe, Makati-Escolta, Manila route being the widely-received river ferry route.

"In just a week, we have removed 5,000 commuters from land transport. This is a very big reduction in carbon footprint," Tolentino said.

Next week, MMDA will launch a new mobile application that will enable commuters to view the ferry schedule through their mobile phones.

Tolentino has earlier met with the Escolta Heritage Association which has expressed its gratitude to the MMDA for reviving public interest in Escolta as a food tourism site. Escolta is one of the ferry terminals revived by the MMDA.

At present, the Pasig River ferry system serves Guadalupe, Makati; Pinagbuhatan, Pasig; and Escolta, Manila routes. Each passenger is insured for P250,000.

Free coffee and pandesal are also served to passengers at the terminals.

The ferry boat project aims to revive the Pasig River ferry system as an alternative solution to Metro Manila's traffic problems due to the number of road works.

The MMDA chief proposed the revival of the Pasig River system as a means to decongest Metro Manila's major roads affected by 15 road construction projects being implemented in the next two years, including the Skyway Stage 3. It is also aimed to boost Metro Manila's tourism and can be used for disaster and rescue purposes as well.

This alternative mode of transportation is an inter-agency effort being pushed by the DOTC, MMDA, and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).

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APRIL 24, 2014

MMDA Launches Pasig River Ferry System, "Libreng Sakay" for One Week

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will formally reopen the Pasig River ferry system on April 28 from the Guadalupe terminal in Makati City.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said at least two private operators will start their operation on Monday with five boats that will run on three routes: (1) Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City to Guadalupe, Makati City; (2) Guadalupe to Escolta; and (3) Guadalupe to Plaza Mexico via PUP Sta. Mesa, Manila.

The ferry boat project aims to revive the Pasig River ferry system as an alternative solution to Metro Manila's traffic problems due to the number of road works.

The ferry service will operate for free for one week, from 6 a.m. to 7 pm starting Monday. Each passenger will also be provided with free coffee.

The MMDA chief proposed the revival of the Pasig River system as a means to decongest Metro Manila's major roads affected by 15 road construction projects being implemented in the next two years, including the Skyway Stage 3. It is also aimed to boost Metro Manila's tourism and can be used for disaster and rescue purposes as well.

This alternative mode of transportation is an inter-agency effort being pushed by the DOTC, MMDA, and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC).

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APRIL 24, 2014

MMDA Chairman Suspends Two Tow Truck Companies

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today suspended two tow truck companies for reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property and abuse of authority.

Suspended for three months is BNW Towing Services, which was complained by Jayross Lucky Seven Tours Bus Co., Inc. for reckless imprudence resulting to damage to property.

Complainant alleged that their bus with plate number UVF 927, stalled in front of Gold Condominium along Kamias Road in Quezon City due to engine failure, was immediately clamped to the tow truck of BNW Towing services.

The driver of the tow truck mismanaged and miscalculated Kamias' flyover's height clearance causing the roof of the bus to hit the underside of the bridge, thereby damaging the bus. The insurance company of Jayross refused to pay the damage.

After a series of hearings, MMDA ruled in favor of the complainant, resulting to the suspension of BNW's towing accreditation for three months.

"We will never tolerate any acts of abuse from all the accredited tow truck companies. We are constantly monitoring their operations for the protection of the public," Tolentino said.

Another tow truck company, Haplos Towing Services, is also suspended for one month for abuse of authority, which stemmed from a complaint of a truck operator from Valenzuela City.

Complainant Marissa Paz alleged that her Toyota Dyna truck with plate number WPH 307 was forcibly towed by Haplos Towing Services using a seatbelt instead of a tow bar while it was being pushed by her employees to check and repair said vehicle.

After careful perusal of all evidence on record and testimonies of all the parties concerned, MMDA found irregularity in the towing of the complainant's truck by the respondent.

According to Tolentino, Haplos Towing Services failed to follow the proper towing procedures under the MMDA Guidelines on Towing. "All the tow trucks of these companies are restricted within the confines of their garage facilities during the period covered by the suspension orders," Tolentino added.

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APRIL 15, 2014

MMDA Chairman's Request for Fare Reduction for Passengers Bound for Yolanda-hit Areas Granted

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today welcomed the decision of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approving his request to grant P200 fare discount to passengers going to and from Leyte and Eastern Samar this Holy Week.

In a text message to Tolentino, LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said he is going to issue a directive to provincial bus operators today officially allowing the granting of P200 discount to passengers going to and from areas devastated by super typhoon ‘Yolanda' starting tomorrow (April 16) until Monday (April 21).

"I am grateful to the LTFRB and the provincial bus operators for granting my request. The P200 discount is definitely a big help to all passengers going to and from Leyte and Eastern Samar, particularly during this time of their recovery," Tolentino said. "This also goes to show that the bus operators are also charitable," he added.

"This Lenten season is the best time for ‘Yolanda' victims to be with their families, listen closely to their inner feelings and to reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ after the tragedy that befell them," the MMDA chief said.

In the same text message,, Ginez, for his part, likewise lauded Tolentino for the latter's initiative to seek the said bus fare reduction for our hapless countrymen.

In a meeting with fifty provincial bus operators held yesterday at MMDA, Tolentino requested for the bus operators to give a P200 fare discount, or roughly 20% off the regular fare, for every passenger going to and from areas severely devastated by ‘Yolanda' such as Leyte and Eastern Samar. The bus operators have agreed to the request.

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APRIL 7, 2014

Tolentino Leads 'Araw ng Kagitingan' Rites in Hawaii

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino will lead the 72nd Commemoration of the 'Araw ng Kagitingan' as Guest of Honor at the National war Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Invited by the Filipino - American Veterans of World War II, Tolentino will deliver his address before senior government officials of the State of Hawaii including Hawaiian Governor Neil Abercrombie, US Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and US Congressmen Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa, officials of the US Pacific Command led by Major General Anthony Crutchfield, Chief of Staff of the US Pacific Command, the Consular Corps of Hawaii, and members of the Filipino community on April 9.

"It is but fitting to honor our war veterans. Their selfless sacrifice paved the way for our freedom. We must gain inspiration by remembering the courage and integrity of our veterans," Tolentino said, who also holds the rank of full colonel in the Philippine Army.

The program, to start 4pm Hawaii time, is intended to pay tribute to all Filipino and American veterans who fought side-by-side in defense of freedom during the Second World War.

The musical interlude will be provided by the US Pacific Fleet Band. Tolentino will lead the wreath-laying at the War Memorial while the Memorial Gun Salute will be done by the US Marines.

According to Tolentino, "no words can adequately express the exceptional bravery of the Filipino and American soldiers who fought side-by-side in world War II."

'Araw ng Kagitingan' or Day of Valor is an annual memorial ceremony honoring the veterans of World War II and is held on the anniversary of the fall of Bataan, which culminated in the surrender of more than 75,000 Filipino and American troops under Major General Edward King Jr. of the US Army, and the Bataan Death March, which claimed nearly 10,000 Filipino and American lives in April 1942.

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APRIL 4, 2014

In time for the rainy season: MMDA Resumes "Estero Blitz" Program

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) today resumed its yearly "Estero Blitz" program, a flood mitigation cleanup aimed at declogging Metro Manila's major waterways before the onset of the rainy season.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino and Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian led the formal re-launching ceremonies of "Estero Blitz IV" at Viente Reales creek in Barangay Lingunan in the city, the first of the 15 esteros targeted to be cleaned up by the agency until June 6.

"We've been doing this every summer in preparation for the rainy season and flooding. But this time we're focusing on small, inner waterways that have not been attended to in the past like this Viente Reales creek," Tolentino said.

The heavily-silted, water lily-clogged, 1.7-kilometer long Viente Reales creek, the MMDA chief said, overflows during the rainy season as floodwaters from the adjacent Meycauayan, Bulacan, usually end up in the barangay, a water catchbasin.

Some 200 personnel from the MMDA's Flood Control and Sewerage Management Office (FCSMO) were deployed to clean up Viente Reales creek, along with heavy equipment such as backhoes, lift trucks, and cranes, in two days.

Members of the agency's Health, Public Safety and Environmental Protection Office (HPSEPO) were already sent to the area to conduct health education and environmental conservation lectures and medical missions, supported by representatives from the Department of Health (DOH) and the City Health Office (CHO) of Valenzuela City.

"Aside from lectures, we have now partnered with DOH and the local health offices to conduct medical missions in the barangays," Tolentino said.

Defogging and misting operations are also part of the cleanup program to help eliminate mosquito-breeding grounds, he added.

"We are calling on the public to participate in cleaning up their surroundings. We can do this more effectively if everybody is helping," Tolentino said.

Estero Blitz, now on its fourth year, aims to maximize the "conveyance capacity" of open waterways in Metro Manila to enable it to accommodate larger volume of floodwaters during the rainy season, thus hastening the flood receding rate and minimizing flooding.

For this season, MMDA targets to collect a total of 387,487.70 cubic meters of silt and garbage from the 15 esteros in the cities of Manila, Quezon City, Makati, Pasay, Caloocan, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Valenzuela, and Taguig.

Excluding Viente Reales creek, the 14 other targeted esteros are Tanigue Creek in Caloocan; Letre Open Canal, Tonsuya, Malabon; Pinagsabugan Creek, Longos, Malabon; Tanque Creek, NIA Road, Quezon City; Mariblo Creek, Barangay Bungad, Quezon City; Concepcion Creek/Bayan Bayanan Outfall, Concepcion Marikina; Hagonoy Retarding Pond/Hagonoy Creek, Hagonoy, Taguig; Sapang Buwaya Creek, San Isidro, Paranaque; Pasong Diablo Creek, Alabang, Muntinlupa; Maricaban Creek, Pasay; Estero Tripa de Gallina, Buendia Avenue to Zobel Roxas, Pasay, and its Malate, Manila side; and Estero De Pandacan in Pandacan, Manila.

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APRIL 3, 2014

MMDA Grants "Heat Stroke Break" Anew To Traffic Constables, Street Sweepers

To protect the health of its outdoor workers from the searing summer heat, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is re-implementing its daily "heat stroke break" policy for on-duty traffic constables and street sweepers.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the heat stroke break is from 1 pm to 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm to 3 pm, which health agencies and weather experts said is the hottest part of the day this season.

During these 30-minute breaks, the field personnel are allowed to leave their posts alternately to rest and get away from the sun.

"Considering that our traffic constables and street sweepers work continuously under the scorching heat of the sun, we deemed it appropriate to re-implement this ‘Heat Stroke Break Policy'," Tolentino said.

The special break is available for traffic constables and street sweepers who are on duty at daytime. Traffic constables work in shifts- 6 am to 2pm, 2 pm to 10 pm, and 8 am to 5pm.

Traffic constables with 6 am to 2 pm shift are not entitled to this special break, according to Tolentino.

On the other hand, Metro Aide sweepers work from 7 am to 4 pm, 6 am to 2:30 pm, and 11 am to 7pm.

Tolentino stressed that the heat stroke break will be implemented through rotation so a skeletal force of one to two personnel will remain at their posts at any given time.

The agency will also be giving out "Heat Stroke" allowances and free bottled water to those in afternoon shift. The heat stroke break will be in effect everyday from April 8 until May 31, except on days when there are downpours.

"We should try to understand the plight of these traffic constables and street sweepers who brave the heat everyday to fulfill their duties," Tolentino said.

Aside from the 30-minute breaks, traffic constables were also provided with summer uniforms – black short pants and blue polo shirts and their standard head gears.

Tolentino said he is hoping that local government units in Metro Manila will follow suit and give their traffic enforcers such privilege, at least during this summer.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) officially declared the start of the summer season on March 26.

Metro Manila experienced its hottest temperate for the year on March 28 at 35.7 degrees Celsius, even as the state weather bureau predicted that that temperatures in the metropolis could go up to 37 degrees Celsius this dry season.

Based on PAGASA's climatological record, the hottest temperature in Metro Manila was recorded on May 14, 1987 at 38.5 degrees Celsius.

Tolentino said that in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Ministry of Labour is requiring companies to provide midday break from 12:30 pm to 3 pm to laborers who work in open areas during summer.

Last year, six South African traffic enforcers died in KwaZulu-Natal Traffic Department, South Africa due to dehydration and consequent heat stroke. In South Africa, summer temperatures are above 30 degrees Celsius, similar to the temperature in Metro Manila.

On 2012, an MMDA traffic constable died on duty due to heat stroke.

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APRIL 1, 2014

CSC Junks MMDA Employees' Union's Plea for 2011 CNA Incentive

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has dismissed the demand of the employees' union of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for the payment of their 2011 Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) incentive, saying the MMDA management had no savings that year to pay for their benefits.

In a decision promulgated on March 14, the CSC's five-man Public Sector Labor-Management Council (PSLMC) ruled that the demand of the Kapisanan Para sa Kagalingan ng mga Kawani ng MMDA (KKK-MMDA) "cannot be given due course in the absence of savings for the year 2011."

Citing Article X of the CNA entered into between MMDA and KKK on September 30, 2011, PSLMC said it is clear that the CNA incentive can only be released to the employees "subject to the availability of public funds."

"The CNA incentive can only be granted to the (MMDA) employees only after satisfying or paying the mandatory obligations of the agency…said stipulation is clear that the contracting parties agreed that payment of mandatory obligations will take precedence over the grant of CNA incentive. Hence, KKK-MMDA cannot demand otherwise," the council said in its decision.

PSLMC is composed of CSC Chairperson Francisco Duque III as the council chairman, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz as vice-chairman, and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad as members.

The case stemmed from an October 3, 2012 letter of KKK-MMDA President Jaime Enriquez to the CSC asking for an investigation into the non-release of their 2011 CNA incentive, which amounts to at least P25,000 per employee.

Enriquez alleged that the MMDA still has P211,763 million in time deposit and P94 million savings from the agency's 2011 Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), which he said is enough to fund the employees' CNA incentive.

But the MMDA management asserted that the amounts are not part of the savings which can be utilized to pay the 2011 CNA incentives since the subject funds are earmarked for the payment of the agency's current mandatory obligation such as the garbage tipping fees.

The MMDA management submitted to the CSC-Personnel Relations Office (PRO) its certified allocations and utilization of 2011 MOOE, which showed the MOOE budget allocation for six budgetary items such as travelling, communication, repair and maintenance, transportation and delivery, supplies and materials, and utility expenses.

The agency's savings for 2011 only amounted to P8.023 million.

MMDA Assistant General Manager for Finance and Administration Edenison Fainsan said the management has been transparent in dealing with KKK officers.

"The MMDA Book of Accounts has been open to all concerned. Most importantly, all legally mandated benefits have always been granted to all employees of the MMDA," Fainsan said in his comment sent to CSC-PRO on November 12, 2012.

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MARCH 31, 2014

MMDA to Rebuild Public Market in Coron, Palawan; Sends Boat Construction Crews to Sulat, Eastern Samar

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will reconstruct public market in Coron, Palawan, and send boat construction teams to Sulat, Eastern Samar, two Typhoon Yolanda-devastated municipalities adopted by the agency.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the public market will provide displaced residents of Coron with a source of livelihood and help bring back normalcy in the typhoon-hit area.

"We will send teams to Coron and Sulat to build public markets and fishing boats. This is part of our commitment to help areas ravaged by Yolanda recover," the MMDA chief said.

Under its "Adopt-a-Town" program, MMDA adopted Coron and Sulat while other local government units in Metro Manila also committed to rehabilitate other typhoon-damaged localities in the provinces of Leyte, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, and Iloilo.

Last January, MMDA donated 10 motor bancas to fishermen of Sulat. Each motorboat is equipped with lamps and fishing nets. The agency committed to donate a total of 50 motorboats to the municipality.

This morning, two MMDA teams will depart for Coron and Sulat for public market and boat construction projects, respectively, MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez said, who will personally supervise the construction works in the two provinces from April 7 to 13.

Under the MMDA's "adopt-a-town" scheme, the following Metro Manila LGUs have pledged to help rehabilitate the following affected areas:
Quezon City - Palampon, Tolosa, Santa Fe in Leyte
Pasig City - Mayorga, Palo, Barotac Viejo and Nuevo and Dumangas in Iloilo
Mandaluyong City - Isabel and Tanauan, Leyte
Marikina City - Hernani and Lorente, Eastern Samar
San Juan - Ormoc City and Albuera, Leyte
Taguig City - Gen. McArthur, Guiuan, Salcedo, Mercedes, and Quinapondan in Eastern Samar
Las Pinas City - Julita and Dulag, Leyte
Caloocan City - Abayog, Mc Arthur, La Paz in Leyte
Malabon City - Bogo, Cebu
Navotas City - Lawaan and Giporlos, Eastern Samar
Valenzuela City - Basey and Marabut in Western Samar
Paranaque City - Maydolong and Balanginga, Eastern Samar
Pasay City - Burauen, Tabon-Tabon, Dagami in Leyte
Muntinlupa City - Alang-Alang and Jaro in Leyte
Manila - Balangkayan and Taft in Eastern Samar
Makati City - Carigara, Leyte.

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MARCH 28, 2014

MMDA Concludes ‘Linis Palengke' Program; Gears Up for ‘Estero Blitz 4'

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) formally ended today its "Linis Palengke" program as the agency starts preparation for its extensive waterway cleanup called ‘Estero Blitz.'

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the Authority will be resuming its estero cleanup early this April so they will have sufficient time to declog major creeks and other waterways in Metro Manila before the onset of rainy season in June, as well as to help in the eradication of mosquito-breeding grounds.

"We will start our estero cleanup on the first week of April," Tolentino said after leading the last market cleanup activity at the Pasig Mega Public Market in San Nicolas, Pasig City, together with Pasig City Mayor Maribel Eusebio, this morning.

The MMDA's ‘Estero Blitz', now on its fourth edition, involves the daily declogging and dredging of esteros, creeks, and drainages in flood-prone areas in Metro Manila with the objective of preventing floods during the rainy season. It was first launched on August 2011.

The Linis Palengke program, on the other hand, was launched last October and has covered a total of 100,879 square meters of public market land areas.

MMDA workers, backed up by barangay personnel and volunteers from the local government units, also cleaned up 2,935 wet stalls and 4,163 dry stalls, aside from conducting lectures for market personnel and vendors about cleanliness and environmental conservation, including basic principles of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Aimed at increasing the awareness of market vendors on environmental protection, the Linis Palengke program was conducted in selected public markets in Manila, Quezon City, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Pasay, Mandaluyong, Valenzuela, Las Piñas, Marikina, and Pasig.

Tolentino said the cleanest public market will receive a cash award from the agency.

MMDA also donated garbage bins, utility carts, aprons, and compressor washers to the public markets.

Aside from the Pasig Mega Public Market, other markets cleaned up by MMDA were Dagonoy Public Market (Manila); Murphy Market (Quezon City); Parañaque Public Market, Muntinlupa Public Market, Pasay City Mall and Public Market, Mandaluyong Public Market II, Polo Public Market (Valenzuela); New Las Piñas Public Market, and Marikina Central Public Market.

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MARCH 25, 2014

MMDA Launches ‘Bike-Kadahan' Scheme

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will launch the ‘Bike-Kadahan' scheme tomorrow, simultaneous with the opening of the bicycle lane along EDSA in Quezon City.

The concept of the ‘bike-kadahan' is bicycle-sharing, wherein interested bike riders may use bicycles provided by the MMDA for free. They just have to present a valid identification card in exchange for a card indicating the bike number. Said card should be surrendered at the exit area where the bike will be returned.

"The ‘bike-kadahan' is designed to promote the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation," Chairman Francis Tolentino said.

Also included in the scheme is the utilization of a small trailer truck which will serve as mobile bicycle shelters on designated bicycle lanes in various parts of Metro Manila, considering that it are stashed away in a mobile station which can easily be relocated to the university belt, for instance, while the España flyover is being constructed.

The trailer can accommodate up to fifty bicycles.

According to Tolentino, riders can leave their own bicycles at these bike shelters for free. These shelters will be manned by MMDA personnel for safekeeping under MMDA Bike Lanes Project Office created on December 10, 2012 under Administrative Order Number 06 Series of 2012.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista is expected to grace the occasion.

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MARCH 25, 2014

MMDA to Launch 2-kilometer Bicycle Lane in Quezon City

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will open a new bicycle lane located along EDSA in Quezon City tomorrow, March 26.

The bicycle lane spans about 2.105 kilometers long from Ortigas to Santolan (northbound), along EDSA.

"These bike lanes were conceptualized to promote and enhance street and neighborhood identity, increase foot and bike traffic, and reduce vehicle congestion and air pollution along the major thoroughfares as well aas promote healthy living and well-being," MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said.

A similar bike lane along White Plains from EDSA to Temple Drive (eastbound) about 982.6-meters long will likewise be opened tomorrow.

The new bike lanes are painted in red markings and have been installed with traffic directional signs and safety devices to aid bike riders. It is the fifth bike lane introduced by the MMDA after the 3.15-kilometer bike lane in Remedios Circle in Malate, Manila; 9.14-kilometer along Marcos Highway from Evangelista Street to Sumulong Highway in Marikina City; 1-kilometer along EDSA from Magallanes to Ayala Avenue in Makati City; and the 2.92-kilometer bike lane along Commonwealth Avenue from University Avenue to Tandang Sora in Quezon City.

According to Tolentino, the use of non-motorized facilities also improves environmental quality and physical fitness.

The public can use these bicycles for free under the agency's bike-sharing system. Users of MMDA bikes need to present a valid identification card and will be issued in turn a plastic card indicating the bike number, which should be surrendered to the control area upon return of the bike.

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MARCH 24, 2014

MMDA Commends Traffic Constable for Feeding Street Kids

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) honored this morning traffic enforcer Reynaldo Romano, who has received countless praises after he was photographed feeding a street child in Quezon City.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino awarded Romano a Marangal badge, a medal, a certificate of commendation, and a cash reward, calling his actions "worthy of emulation".

"It is not every day that we see civil servants like Mr. Romano going out of his way, spending his last money, to feed a hungry street child that he doesn't even know. And for this simple deed, he deserves our respect and admiration," Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief also granted Romano, a 12-year employee on a job order status, a salary increase. His two children will also be given college scholarships and slots in the agency's summer job program.

Romano will also be speaking in the MMDA's retraining and reorientation seminars to serve as inspiration to fellow MMDA traffic constables.

During the MMDA's flag-raising program, Romano said all he wanted was to help the little girl and her sibling.

"The little girl told me she hasn't eaten since morning, and it was already 3:30 pm. I took pity and bought her P10 rice, P10 pansit, and water. Good thing I still have P30 in my pocket," he said.

Romano fed the two siblings again the next day. His photograph showing him feeding the little girl has gone viral on Facebook and was posted on the March 12 issue of car magazine Topgear Philippines, gathering thousands of praises from Netizens.

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MARCH 18, 2014

MMDA To Wrap Up 'Linis Palengke' Program

After cleaning up several public markets in Metro Manila, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will wrap up its "Linis Palengke" program next week at the Mega Public Market in Pasig City.

In a span of only five months, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the cleanup activity has covered a total of 100,879 square meters of public market land areas since it was launched on October 8, 2013.

MMDA workers, backed up by barangay personnel and volunteers from the local government units, also cleaned up 2,935 wet stalls and 4,163 dry stalls, aside from conducting lectures for market personnel and vendors about cleanliness and environmental conservation.

The last market cleanup activity will be held at the Mega Public Market in Pasig City on March 21.

"We're done with the Linis Palengke as of now because we will resume our ‘Estero Blitz' program before the onset of the summer season," Tolentino said, referring to MMDA's extensive cleanup of esteros and waterways in Metro Manila.

Aimed at increasing the awareness of market vendors on environmental protection, the Linis Palengke program was conducted in selected public markets in Manila, Quezon City, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Pasay, Mandaluyong, Valenzuela, Las Piñas, Marikina, and Pasig.

MMDA also donated garbage bins, utility carts, aprons, and compressor washers to the public markets.

Markets cleaned up by MMDA were Dagonoy Public Market (Manila); Murphy Market (Quezon City); Parañaque Public Market, Muntinlupa Public Market, Pasay City Mall and Public Market, Mandaluyong Public Market II, Polo Public Market (Valenzuela); New Las Piñas Public Market, and Marikina Central Public Market.

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MARCH 17, 2014

MMDA inaugurates two new pumping stations in San Juan

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will inaugurate this afternoon two new floodwater pumping stations in San Juan City.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino and San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez will lead the inauguration ceremonies at the new facilities, which are located along Rivera Street at Barangay Rivera and Morales Street at Barangay Salapan. Senator JV Ejercito is also expected to attend the event.

"These additional facilities will complement the Balong Bato pumping station which became operational last year. Hopefully, these pumping stations will totally spare the city of San Juan from flooding," Tolentino said. "Having not just one but three pumping stations here in San Juan will provide great relief for the city government and its residents as it would not just rid San Juan of floods but would also save lives and precious properties."

The Rivera pumping station has two pumps and floodwater catchment area measuring 2.8 hectares. The facility also has one set of trash screen for garbage retrieval.

The Salapan pumping station, on the other hand, has two pumps that siphon two cubic meters of water per second. It has a floodwater catchment area of 18 hectares with two sets of trash screen equipment.

The MMDA now has 54 pumping stations all over Metro Manila.

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MARCH 5, 2014

MMDA Checks Ferry Stations, Tests Boats

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) test-run today its initial fleet of ferry boats that will run through several routes along Pasig River.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the ferry boat project aims to revive the Pasig River ferry system as an alternative solution to Metro Manila's traffic problems due to the number of road works.

The agency has recently converted its three tugboats to passenger vessels along Pasig River, from Guadalupe, Makati City to Escolta, Manila. Each boat has a capacity of 40 persons.

"What we're trying to do here is arouse the interest of private firms to operate a ferry system again in Pasig River," Tolentino said, pointing out that a number of companies have already expressed interest in taking on the project.

Showcasing the agency's ingenuity, the 20-meter long MMDA ferry boat has for its fuselage the body of a shuttle bus painted with yellow. Each unit will be operated by trained and licensed boatmen and is equipped with appropriate safety gears.

Tolentino said the ferry boats will start operation by April this year. As for a probable fixed rate of fare, he said it is still being discussed with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Once a private firm has taken over the project and the ferry system fully operational, the MMDA ferry boats will still serve a number of roles in Pasig River, such as emergency and rescue patrol, he said.

"The MMDA only serves as the catalyzer for the river ferry project. Private operators will handle it eventually," he stressed.

PRRC records showed that at the height of its river ferry operations from 2007 to 2010, passenger count in PRRC-owned stations totaled close to 1.6 million, including those stations operated by a private nautical transport service company.

Tolentino said plans are being drawn up to have at least four different operators to handle the ferry system. The DOTC, PRRC and the MMDA are set to meet again on Thursday, March 6, to draw operational guidelines and permitting process.

The MMDA chief proposed the revival of the Pasig River system as a means to decongest Metro Manila's major roads affected by 15 road construction projects being implemented in the next two years, including the Skyway Stage 3. It is also aimed to boost Metro Manila's tourism and can be used for disaster and rescue purposes as well.

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FEBRUARY 14, 2014

Proposed Four-day School Week Patterned After US States To Ease Traffic

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino clarified today that the four-day school week he is proposing has long been practiced successfully in several countries, particularly in the United States, which has resulted to lesser traffic congestion and reduced education and energy costs.

Speaking at the sidelines of the two-day Metro Manila Traffic Management Summit in Makati City, Tolentino said 21 US states have been implementing the shortened school week scheme, which was first implemented as early as 1930's.

These states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, and New Mexico, Tolentino said, citing data from the US National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL).

"This four-day school week program is not a new concept. In fact, it is being practiced since the ‘30's, and became more common in the 1970 US energy crisis," the MMDA chief said.

Highlighting the benefits of the policy, Tolentino pointed out the shortened school week will not only help reduce vehicular and pedestrian volume in major thoroughfares but will also bring about significant reductions in transportation and education costs.

Tolentino also stressed that the shortened school week also helps improve morale and increased attendance by both students and teaching personnel.

In a letter to Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Tolentino said "the solution is not perfect and has room for adjustment to fit in the Philippine school system. However, it is also undoubtedly a scheme that will redound to the benefit of the general public and help improve the traffic situation in Metro Manila".

"With only four days in school, students and teachers have more time to spend with their families and loved ones," he said.

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FEBRUARY 12, 2014

MMDA Chief Proposes "Open University" and "Offsite Campus" Schemes to Reduce Traffic Congestion

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today proposed the adoption of distance learning system or "open university" scheme among universities and colleges in Metro Manila as a means to reduce commuter and vehicular traffic volume in major thoroughfares.

Tolentino said homeschooling program allows students to study at the comfort of their homes and at their own time while not adding up to the traffic congestion in the streets.

"I suggest that more school institutions in Metro Manila adopt this open university system as a traffic-alleviating measure. Our objective here is to reduce the number of students going out in the streets, especially during rush hours," the MMDA chief said.

At the same time, the school management may also opt to transfer some of their students to their offsite or satellite campuses to lessen their student population in Metro Manila, Tolentino added.

The MMDA chief pointed out that students living near these satellite campuses, mostly located in the provinces, will greatly benefit from this system while helping reduce traffic congestion in the metropolis.

Some of the schools that have offsite campuses are the University of the Philippines (UP), Lyceum of the Philippines, Mapua Institute of Science and Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), De La Salle University (DLSU) Technological University of the Philippines (TUP), Centro Escolar University, among others. The University of Sto. Tomas (UST) is set to open its new campus in General Santos City.

There are 436 state universities and colleges in the Philippines, including satellite campuses.

"Offsite campuses will help decongest student population in Metro Manila which, in turn, will redound to lesser volume of commuter, pedestrian, and vehicular volume in our road networks," Tolentino added.

Tolentino aired his proposals in the light of the impending construction of 16 traffic infrastructure projects in the metropolis in the coming weeks, which is expected to cause serious traffic problems.

For instance, the construction of Skyway Stage 3 will start on February 17, and will cut across the vicinities of 23 universities and colleges and several private and public elementary and secondary schools along its path from Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati City to Balintawak, Quezon City.

Open universities have proliferated in the Philippines in recent years following the advent of Internet and the advancement of communication technologies. Among the schools that practice distance learning system include the University of the Philippines (UP), De La Salle University (DLSU), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).

Through this study program, Tolentino pointed out that students and parents can plan their time and travel schedules more efficiently, thus, helping decongest Metro Manila's traffic-prone thoroughfares.

"In an open university, you only have occasional face-to-face class sessions, you communicate through the Internet, so most of the time you only stay at " home. That's a big reduction to pedestrian, commuter, and vehicular volume," Tolentino said.

The scheme is also a viable alternative to working students or those living at some distance from their schools, he added.

Apart from Skyway Stage 3, 15 other infrastructure projects are lined up for construction, among which are the following:

  1. NAIA Expressway Phase 2
  2. Gil Puyat-Makati-Avenue-Paseo de Roxas underpass
  3. Sta. Monica-Lawton Avenue bridge
  4. CP Garcia Avenue-McKinley Hill ramp
  5. Repair and asphalt overlay of Magallanes Interchange
  6. Edsa-Taft Avenue flyover
  7. MRT Line 3/ LRT Line 1 extension common station
  8. LRT Line 2 East extension up to Masinag
  9. LRT Line 1 Extension (Cavite)
  10. Edsa-Roosevelt Ave. interchange
  11. Espana Avenue-Lacson Avenue interchange
  12. Repair/rehabilitation and improvement of South Superhighway Makati
  13. NLEX-SLEX connector road above the PNR alignment

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FEBRUARY 10, 2014

Amusement Tax Collections from 2010 to 2012 Released to Beneficiaries - MMFF

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) clarified today that it has released all the amusement tax collections allocated to the beneficiaries of the annual film festival from 2010 to 2012, which is the subject of second petition by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP).

MMFF Spokesperson Marichu Maceda said a total of P29,525,000 million were released to the five beneficiary-agencies of the MMFF from 2010 to 2012.

Under the November 22, 2010 directive of the Office of the President, the bulk of the amusement tax proceeds goes to the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc. (MOWELFUND), which gets 50 percent; FAP, 20 percent; Motion Picture Anti-Piracy Council, 20 percent; Optical Media Board, five percent; and Film Development Council of the Philippines, five percent.

"We have the records to explain where the funds of the MMFF go, including the amusement tax allocations given to the beneficiaries. These documents speak for themselves, and clearly indicated there were no fund misuse as alleged by FAP," Maceda stressed.

She pointed out that the MMFF-Executive Committee is mandated to allocate and remit to the designated beneficiaries the net proceeds of the amusement tax collections after deducting all its operational and incidental expenses.

MMFF derives its tax revenues from the amusement taxes waived and donated by the 17 Metro Manila local government units during the 10-day festival that runs from December 25 to January 3.

A huge chunk of the MMFF's expenses goes to the prizes and awards. MMFF also helped in typhoon Sendong and typhoon Pablo stricken areas in Mindanao by building classrooms in the areas.

Earlier, Maceda maintained that all the funds of the MMFF, particularly the amusement tax collections, are intact and accounted for, and had been properly distributed to its intended beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the head of a non-government organization tapped by FAP Director General Leo Martinez, a holdover of the Arroyo administration, for an aborted movie awards project has surfaced and claimed the FAP chief is only after the "money" of the film festival.

In a letter to MMFF, Revor Lasay, national chairman of the Sectoral Anti-Poverty Movement (SAP), alleged that Martinez contracted him in July 2011 to revive his "Doon Po Sa Amin" film awards project which was disapproved for funding by the Office of the President.

"I felt the issue here is not really the welfare of the movie workers as he proudly claimed but plainly money, money, and the huge amount of money from the record-breaking earnings of the 39th film fest," Lasay said in his letter, referring to Martinez.

In a four-page narration he attached to his letter, Lasay claimed he and his "Doon Po Sa Amin" project management team were not duly paid by FAP for their work and their expenses were not reimbursed as promised by Martinez.

It was only on October 28, 2011 that one of the members of FAP's Board of Governors informed Lasay that not all members of the Board of Governors were aware of the release of FAP funds for the project because only Martinez and the treasurer has access to FAP's bank accounts.

"If the releases of funds for the DPSA (Doon Po Sa Amin) team were allegedly not approved by the Board of Governors of FAP and that only Mr. Martinez (who was appointed FAP head due to his closeness with a top official of the previous administration) and the treasurer has access to FAP's bank accounts, I believe, the funds should be returned to FAP and they (Martinez and the treasurer) should be held liable on the alleged habitual and series of bank withdrawals/fund releases without the knowledge and approval of the FAP's Board of Governors," Lasay pointed out.

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FEBRUARY 6, 2014

MMDA to Conduct Earthquake Census in Caloocan City

After Las Pinas City, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will conduct an earthquake risk survey in Barangay 74 in Caloocan City tomorrow, February 7.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the earthquake census in Barangay 74 will start at 6 am along Samson Road, and will be conducted by MMDA engineers, city building officials and engineering students.

"We would like to express our gratitude to Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan for supporting our earthquake risk survey project. We're hoping to replicate this program to all local government units in Metro Manila," Tolentino said.

It will be the second such survey to be conducted by the MMDA after the first one in Barangay Pamplona, Las Pinas City on January 29. The earthquake risk survey is the first ever government initiative designed to identify public and private buildings that are vulnerable to a strong tremor.

Tolentino reiterated that the survey aims to pinpoint the structural deficiencies of structures and implement corrective measures to prevent damage in the event of an earthquake.

Tolentino suggested the conduct of a metrowide earthquake census in the wake of the magnitude 7.2 tremor that badly damaged Bohol and Cebu last October.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC) has issued Resolution No. 13-19, Series of 2013 approving the conduct of the earthquake census on different barangays of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila.

Similar to a population census, enumerators are tasked to do house-to-house inspection and survey, which will focus on the structural integrity of the structure.

Once the building or structure is inspected, a sticker will be posted by the MMDA inspectors.

Data gathered from the house-to-house survey shall be used by the local building official and engineering offices to enforce preventive and corrective measures to the identified structures, according to Tolentino.

"The result of the earthquake census should lead to restructuring of public and private buildings based on risk assessment and cost benefit analysis and other engineering, seismic, and geological models to reduce quake structural deficiencies, thereby preventing unnecessary loss of lives and properties," he added.

Tolentino cited the findings made by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) which predicted 37,000 deaths in Metro Manila alone in the event of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

He said the study will help MMDA, in coordination with concerned government agencies and the private sector, to make the necessary preparations and risk reduction measures.

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JANUARY 28, 2014

MMDA to Conduct First-Ever Earthquake Census in Las Piñas

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will conduct an earthquake risk survey in Barangay Pamplona 3 in Las Piñas City tomorrow, the first ever government initiative designed to identify public and private buildings that are vulnerable to a strong tremor.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said 80 to 100 engineers of the agency, supported by members of the Philippine Civil Engineers (PICE), city building officials, and 80 engineering students of the University of Perpetual Help will do house-to-house survey in Barangay Pamplona 3 starting at 7 am.

"Our objective is to identify structures that are at risk of damage in the event of an earthquake. Once we have pinpointed the structural deficiencies, city engineers will implement corrective measures," Tolentino said.

Tolentino suggested the conduct of a metrowide earthquake census in the wake of the magnitude 7.2 tremor that badly damaged Bohol and Cebu last October.

A week later, the Metro Manila Council (MMC) issued Resolution No. 13-19, Series of 2013 approving the conduct of the earthquake census on different barangays of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila.

Similar to a population census, enumerators are tasked to do house-to-house inspection and survey, which will focus on the structural integrity of the structure.

Once the building or structure is inspected, a sticker will be posted by the MMDA inspectors.

Tolentino said 20 teams of inspectors will be fielded in Las Piñas to conduct the earthquake census.

"In view of the clamor to revisit some of the provisions of the National Building Code, we should start this earthquake risk audit so we can plan and implement contingency measures in case a strong earthquake hit Metro Manila," the MMDA chief pointed out.

Tolentino added a hazard risk audit of specific structures should be made quickly based on engineering analysis and earthquake reduction formulas, saying that although earthquakes are natural and unavoidable, buildings and structures do not need to collapse or be seriously damaged to save lives.

Tolentino stressed that data gathered from the house-to-house survey shall be used by the local building official and engineering offices to enforce preventive and corrective measures to the identified structures.

"The result of the earthquake census should lead to restructuring of public and private buildings based on risk assessment and cost benefit analysis and other engineering, seismic, and geological models to reduce quake structural deficiencies, thereby preventing unnecessary loss of lives and properties," he added.

Tolentino cited the findings made by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) which predicted 37,000 deaths in Metro Manila alone in the event of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

He said the study will help MMDA, in coordination with concerned government agencies and the private sector, to make the necessary preparations and risk reduction measures.

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JANUARY 27, 2014

MMDA to Host Internal Confab on Infectious Diseases on February 4-6

After hosting the 11th Asian Crisis Management Conference (ACMC) last July, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will again host an international meeting next week, which will discuss current developments in the prevention of infectious diseases currently affecting Asia.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the 9th Annual Conference on Countermeasures to Combat Infectious Diseases in Asia by the Asian Network of Major Cities (ANMC) 21 will be held from February 4-6 at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City.

With the theme "Meeting City-Level Challenges to Achieve Millennium Development Goals on Infectious Diseases", the three-day annual conference will gather health professionals, various medical associations, medical researchers, and city officials of the 13-member-cities of ANMC 21.

Metro Manila mayors, as well as their local health officers, and other concerned agencies and organizations will also participate in the event.

"Once again, we at the MMDA are honored to lead this international conference. We are hoping to learn and contribute in ANMC 21's continuous efforts to stop the spread of diseases in the Asian region," the MMDA chief said.

Now on its 9th year, the 2014 Countermeasures to Combat Infectious Diseases in Asia forum will focus on relevant programs to control five infectious diseases in the region that seemed on the outbreak in recent years – the Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), HIV/AIDS, Dengue, Leptospirosis, and Pandemic Influenza.

Tolentino said each member-city of ANMC 21 will present recent medical updates and current policies to combat the further outbreak of infectious diseases and discuss possible joint research and surveys.

"To foster learning and exchange of ideas, we have also invited selected guests with knowledge and experience on the topics to provide additional insights into the trends, policies, challenges, and innovative actions against infectious diseases," Tolentino pointed out.

ANMC, according to Tolentino, recognizes the immense impact of infectious diseases to the health of populations in Asia, and that countermeasures should be put in place to ensure swift response among the Asian states.

Citing recent medical surveys, Tolentino said tuberculosis alone remains to be a major public health problem in the western Pacific region; more than 20 percent of the global burden of TB is found in the region.

"At least 300,000 persons die yearly due to TB. The region has an estimated 135,000 multi-drug resistant TB cases, most of which can be found in China," he said.

As for HIV/AIDS, Tolentino noted that the epicenter of global HIV pandemic is now shifting from Africa to Asia, with Asia-Pacific region accounting for three percent of the estimated three million AIDS cases and 15 percent of the 14 million HIV infections worldwide.

"We should have a solid permanent network of medical experts and researchers to serve as a liaison system linking member-cities' organizations," Tolentino said.

ANMC21, which organizes the annual ACMC and the Countermeasures to Combat Infectious Diseases in Asia, is an organization of Asia's largest capital cities working together on issues such as urban planning, sustainability, and crisis management. It was advocated by then Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara in August 2000.

ANMC21 member-cities are Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Metropolitan Manila (represented by MMDA), Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Tomsk, Ulaanbaatar, and Yangon.

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JANUARY 23, 2014

Skyway Stage 3 Construction: MMDA Chairman Advocates 'Roadways Construction Lifestyle Adjustment'

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino today called on the public, particularly private motorists and commuters, to make adjustments in their work and travel schedules and personal lifestyles to cope with the expected traffic congestion in Metro Manila to be brought about by the impending construction of Skyway Stage 3 project.

Tolentino said Metro Manila residents, both commuters and motorists, should learn to adopt what he calls the Roadways Construction Lifestyle Adjustment during the 32-month construction of the roadways system together with eight other road expansion projects.

"This is a construction of massive proportion that would last 32 months. Building this alternative highway is expected to create traffic problems so everyone should make adjustments," the MMDA chief said.

"What we need is extra huge amount of patience and understanding and cooperation but once Skyway 3 is completed, it will result to faster and more convenient travel within the metropolis," Tolentino added.

Unless important, Tolentino suggested that Metro Manila residents should limit their movements within their respective localities, and plan their travel efficiently as these will redound to lesser volume of vehicles and pedestrians in the streets.

"If you're a Pasay resident, don't go to Quezon City just to watch movies. We should plan our trips ahead so as not to contribute to traffic congestion and also for our own convenience," Tolentino said.

The MMDA chief also suggested to private companies to adopt a "flexitime" working hours for their employees, especially those located along the route of the construction projects.

Tolentino said the MMDA will lead a traffic summit on the first week of February to draft a comprehensive traffic management plan for the entire Metro Manila for the duration of the construction period.

Aside from Skyway Stage 3, he pointed out that a number of road and infrastructure projects are lined up to start this year, which will inevitably cause inconvenience, such as the NAIA elevated expressway, Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge, Makati Avenue underpass, and the Pasay-Taft flyover, among others.

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JANUARY 16, 2014

MMDA Continues "Linis Palengke 2014"

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will resume its "Linis Palengke" program tomorrow at the Muntinlupa Public Market in Muntinlupa City.

Chairman Francis Tolentino said the program will now focus more on environmental protection with lectures on ecological solid waste management pursuant to Republic Act 9003, anti-littering, and anti-smoking aimed at fostering public awareness.

"This program is intended to improve the health and sanitation of the public markets by ensuring cleanliness, convenience, and security. This is essential for the protection and safety of the consumers," Tolentino said.

150 MMDA personnel from Solid Waste Management Office, Metro Parkways Clearing Group, and Flood Control and Sewerage Management office will conduct cleaning, clearing, declogging, painting, and minor repairs of the market premises.

MMDA will also turnover to the market administrator garbage bins, utility carts, and compressor washer. Aprons will likewise be distributed to vendors of wet goods.

According to the MMDA chief, the program will help upgrade the standards in the operation of public markets.

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JANUARY 16a, 2014

MMFF EXECOM: No Irregularity in MMFF Fund Use

The Executive Committee of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) today brushed aside baseless insinuations made by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) concerning the alleged mishandling of the earnings of the annual movie festival.

Marichu Maceda, spokesperson of the MMFF Execom, maintained that all the funds of the MMFF, particularly the amusement tax collections, are intact and accounted for, and had been properly distributed to its intended beneficiaries.

"The MMFF Execom is mandated to allocate and remit to the designated beneficiaries the net proceeds of the amusement taxes after deducting all operational and incidental expenses of the MMFF. This is being complied with religiously every year," Maceda said, citing the provisions of the Metro Manila Council (MMC) Executive Order 86-09 that established the MMDA's operation and management of the annual film festival.

MMFF derives its tax revenues from the amusement taxes waived and donated by the 17 Metro Manila local government units during the 10-day festival that runs from December 25 to January 3.

To evaluate its overall annual performance, Maceda explained the MMFF takes into consideration both the gross revenues of Metro Manila theatres and provincial theatres.

Maceda, however, stressed that due to changes in the amusement tax structure, gross revenues from Metro Manila theatres are further reduced by the following factors:

  1. Since 2003, Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, and San Juan reduced its amusement tax rate from 30 percent to 15 percent

  2. In 2006, Quezon City further reduced its amusement tax rate from 15 percent to zero percent. All other LGUs reduced their amusement tax rate to 10 percent pursuant to Republic Act 9640, amending section 140A of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

  3. In 2011, Marikina followed Quezon City's example, bringing down its amusement tax rate also to zero percent

  4. Pasay City also decreased its local amusement tax from 10 percent to five percent

  5. Resorts World Cinemas are tax-free under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) law

  6. Closure of several theatres


Maceda also pointed out that the amusement tax derived by Quezon City, which is tax-free, comprised about 30 percent (102 theatres) of the total amusement tax collections of the MMFF, significantly reducing the net proceeds of the tax in relation to the gross revenues.

"Thus, even if the MMFF gross revenues increase, the amount given to beneficiaries may decrease due to these factors," the MMFF spokesperson said.

Under the November 22, 2010 directive of the Office of the President, the bulk of the amusement tax proceeds goes to the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc. (MOWELFUND), which gets 50 percent; FAP, 20 percent; Motion Picture Anti-Piracy Council, 20 percent; Optical Media Board, five percent; and Film Development Council of the Philippines, five percent.

Maceda pointed out there is no transmittal of proceeds to the MMDA because it is not a beneficiary of the MMFF fund.

She reiterated that MMDA was tasked to manage the MMFF on the virtue of MMC Executive Order 86-09 issued in 1986.

As to the case filed by FAP, Maceda said the MMFF Execom will answer the charges in court, stressing that FAP has no basis to claim P82 million in amusement tax proceeds earned by the MMFF from 2002 to 2008.

The recent MMFF garnered close to P1 billion in revenues, making it the most successful and highest-earning festival in its 39 years of history because of good management and practices instituted by the current administration.

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JANUARY 11, 2014

MMFF Hits 1 Billion Mark

Capping off its two-week run on January 7, 2014, the Metro Manila Film Festival 2013, headed by Overall Chairman Francis Tolentino, broke all records, hitting almost1 Billion mark in overall gross for its eight official entries. My Little Bossings, Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy, Pagpag, and Kimmy Dora took the lead four among the entries this year. The rest of the entries include (in no particular order) Kaleidoscope World, Pedro Calungsod Batang Martir, Boy Golden and10,000 Hours.

​"With almost a billion pesos in overall box office, we are overwhelmed and so proud that the MMFF has managed to break records, proving that the Filipino movie industry is not only surviving, but thriving, despite stiff competition from foreign movies. But more than the money, and despite the issues that surrounds the Festival every year, we have set out to prove, and actually proven that MMFF is a strong Filipino tradition that brings us together as a family despite the hardships that we've faced as a nation, especially this year with a hard hit from Typhoon Yolanda," said Tolentino as he described this year's Festival, highlighting that the MMFF is a welcomed year-end breather and celebration for the viewers. ​

As the MMDA Chairman, Tolentino has headed the MMFF since 2010 which has steadily set the record for the highest grossing Festival in 39 years. "We love a good story, a good laugh, and a few tears here and there. More importantly, we love our own. And the MMFF movies give us that and more. And let's not forget our New Wave Section for independent, student short films and animation films," he added. The MMFF New Wave Section served as the pre-Festival activity which ran last January 18-24, 2013 in SM Megamall and Glorietta 4 Cinemas.

​The MMFF held its annual Parade of Stars last December 22 and Awards Night last December 27, 2013.10,000 Hours raked in most of the major awards, including Best Picture, Gatpuno Villegas Award, Best Director for Bb. Joyce Bernal, and Best Actor for Robin Padilla, while Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy and My Little Bossings received the 2ndand 3rd Best Picture Awards, respectively. Ms. Maricel Soriano from Girl, Boy won the Best Actress Award. The selection of winners for all the categories were a rigorous process, from the selection of the members of the Board of Jurors (comprising of members of different sectors of the society and respectable and knowledgeable members of the movie industry) to the private ballot voting and auditing of the votes through an auditing firm.

​Tolentino, on behalf of the MMFF, sincerely thanked the movie industry, the MMFF Executive Committee, the Special Working Committee on Festival Preparations, the Selection Committee, the Board of Jurors, and the Mayors of Metro Manila for their continued support to the MMDA and theFestival which made it a big success.

The proceeds from the amusement tax from the local government units of Metro Manila during the Festival run of MMFF will be given to its beneficiaries from the movie industry, namely: Movie Workers Welfare Fund, the FilmAcademy of the Philippines, the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and Optical Media Board.

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JANUARY 10, 2014

MMDA, Paint Manufacturer To Repaint Edsa Underpasses

In line with its Edsa Makeover project, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will forge an agreement with a paint manufacturing company on Monday, January 13, for the beautification and painting of the tunnels along Edsa.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino will sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Asian Coatings (AC) Business Development Head Edison Oribiana for the painting and maintenance of the walls of P. Tuazon, Shaw Boulevard, and Ayala underpasses.

Under the MOA, AC will do painting works in the walls of the Edsa underpasses for a period of three years at no cost to the MMDA, which shall approve the artworks suggested by the paint company.

"We are grateful to Asian Coatings for their support in the Edsa Makeover project and their desire to help beautify Metro Manila," Tolentino said.

The Edsa make-over project, an MMDA urban renewal initiative, is aimed at bringing about physical and cultural transformations to Metro Manila's primary thoroughfare through landscaping, beautification, and re-greening.

Tolentino said motorists, commuters and pedestrians driving or walking along Edsa will benefit from the project, as it will provide a refreshing contrast from the visual clutter that proliferate the 28-kilometer highway.

The Metro Manila Council (MMC), through Resolution No. 12-07 issued on January 26, 2012, has expressed support to the Edsa Makeover project as a solution to the problems in Edsa, such as traffic congestion, worsening air and noise pollution, proliferation of billboards and other forms of advertisements, flooding, and increasing number of street dwellers.

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