MMDA Resumes Sidewalk Clearing Operations

Manila, Philippines — After clearing Balintawak and Edsa-Taft of illegal vendors early this week, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on January 7 conducted sidewalk clearing operations in Baclaran.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino ordered the deployment of at least 400 personnel to Baclaran as early as 4 am, particularly in Redemptorist Street, to peacefully drive away illegal vendors and remove illegal structures that obstruct the free flow of traffic in the area.

While expecting no resistance from the vendors, the MMDA has asked for at least 200 policemen from the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) to provide security and maintain peace and order during the operations.

The MMDA sidewalk clearing team will be composed of members of the Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group (SCOG) and Roadway Clearing Operations Group (RCOG), as well as from the Traffic Engineering Center (TEC) and Rescue Unit.

"We have been very lenient during the Christmas season but now their presence in the sidewalks and roadways are being felt due to worsening traffic congestion," Tolentino said.

MMDA Deputy Chairman Alex Cabanilla met with Parañaque City Mayor Florencio Bernabe, Jr. last Tuesday to coordinate the clearing drive, which Tolentino assured would be peaceful and orderly.

Similar to the sidewalk clearing operation in Balintawak and Edsa-Taft Avenue areas last Monday, no one will be physically harmed and the vendors' goods will be not confiscated or thrown out in the streets, Tolentino assured.

MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez also met with the various vendors' associations in Baclaran last Wednesday to point out the agency's objectives in clearing the sidewalks and roadways, and the need for the vendors to have a proper place to sell their goods.

Tolentino said the MMDA recognizes the sidewalk vendors' livelihood as he ordered the MMDA personnel to respect the vendors' rights at all times.

He said the anti-sidewalk vendor operatives of the MMDA will only be on the defensive throughout the clearing operations.

Once cleared of obstructions, the MMDA intends to put up steel fences along the sidewalks to prevent vendors from returning.

"This is a major clearing operation and if successful, it will serve as the template for all our sidewalk clearing operations in the future," Tolentino said.