DOTr Director fires back at Sen. Trillanes over recent comments in media

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After Senator calls for resignation of DOTr Secretary

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is once again grabbing some headlines.

The politician called for the resignation of DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade (including the President, among others), pointing to what he claims is a lack of output from the Department with regards primarily to traffic in Metro Manila, as well as the supposed slow recovery of a commercial airliner that skidded off the runway at the capital's primary international airport.

The senator's recent comments in the media, it seems, has struck a nerve with the Department of Transportation, particularly with the Department's Director for Communications, Goddes Hope Oliveros Libiran.

Director Libiran -who is responsible for keeping the press and media informed of the latest developments and accomplishments of the department- fired back, taking to her personal social media page to compose a snappy, fact-laden open letter for the senator whom she questions as either misinformed, or confused about the facts.

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An open letter to Senator Antonio Trillanes

Dear Senator Trillanes,

In a statement that surprised absolutely no one, you asked Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to resign, and that he should bring along with him his boss, President Duterte.

The reason you stated was the traffic mess. This is a bit disconcerting because as a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, it is assumed that you are well aware of the mandate of the very department you are criticizing.

For the information of the good Senator, the DOTr is the government’s primary policy, planning, programming, coordinating, implementing, and administrative entity of the executive branch that is in charge of the promotion, development and regulation of dependable and coordinated network of transportation systems, as well as in the delivery of fast, safe, efficient and reliable transportation services.

If it is not too much to ask, the good Senator might want to review Executive Order No. 125 and Executive Order No. 125-A, both issued during the administration of former president Corazon C. Aquino.

The DOTr is not the agency in charge of traffic management in Metro Manila. It seems like the good Senator is confusing the DOTr with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

For national roads (EDSA, C5, Marcos Highway, parts of Commonwealth Avenue, etc), the MMDA enforces traffic rules, apprehends violators, and sets policies. The Local Government Units, on the other hand, is in charge of the inner roads. As a bonus tip for the Senator, tricycles and pedicabs are also not under the jurisdiction of the DOTr.

Having said that, Secretary Tugade had the initiative to pull transport-related agencies together to create the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT) within his first 100 days in office. This is the closest that the country ever got to a single traffic authority.

Secretary Tugade put together the MMDA, LTO, LTFRB, and PNP-HPG to rid Metro Manila of illegally-parked vehicles, illegal vendors, smoke belchers, colorums, and traffic violators. Together, i-ACT has made 139,252 apprehension in 2018 alone. There were also more colorums apprehended over the past two years, compared to the entire five years prior.

It is funny that in a media interview the other day, you said: “Binigyan natin sila ng enough space, sabi nila yung trapik bigyan daw sila ng dalawang taon kasi hindi naman daw bigla-bigla yan. O ngayon, lagpas na tayo ng dalawang taon.”

Funny because as part of the Senate, you should know that the two years being requested is for Emergency Powers, which as you very well know, was never granted.

It is also funny that you mentioned the Xiamen Air incident at the NAIA recently. Referring to the plane that skidded and was stuck on the runway, you said, "Dapat dalawang oras pa lang tanggal na 'yan."

Bravo, Mr. Senator. In your effort to prove how great you are, you actually demonstrated how uninformed you can be.

Take a vehicle accident on EDSA, a multiple-vehicle collision on NLEX, or just a stalled vehicle on the road --- that takes two hours, sometimes even more.

Recovering a disabled aircraft is nothing like towing a bus or a car. There are technical protocols and intervening factors that all international airports must observe. The Xiamen plane wasn’t only huge, it also had four (4) tons of unused fuel at the wings that are highly combustible. One false move, and the plane might explode.

Apart from these, the aircraft straddled on a very muddy terrain, and the weather was also uncooperative. To recover the disabled aircraft, the MIAA needed to rent a high capacity telescopic crane, which takes three hours just to set up.

Actually, if the good Senator would do his research before feeding the media with his theories, he would be surprised to find out that international airports around the world that had to handle a similar incident took even longer than MIAA’s 36 hours.

You also asked: “Ano bang output? Up to this time wala akong nakikitang magandang output dito sa departamento ni Mr. Tugade.”

Has the good Senator been living under a rock? In case you missed it, the NAIA is no longer the world’s worst airport, and now among the Most Improved. Delays have been significantly minimized, laglag-bala is history, on-time performance and airport facilities have improved. The Clark International Airport has never been this busy, recording an all-time high 1.5 million passengers in 2017.

Driver’s licenses are now printed on cards, not a piece of paper. The millions of backlog that the new LTO inherited have been completely addressed. Plates are finally being distributed, following so many years of being a “Republika ng Walang Plaka.” In two years, 129 port projects have been completed, two international airport terminals have been opened, and four railway projects are being constructed.

There’s more, a lot more. Just one look at DOTr social media pages would give you an idea.

But, you already know that, don’t you, Mr. Senator? You just refuse to believe it even when the facts are looking at you right in the face.

Mr. Senator, let Secretary Tugade and the rest of us in DOTr do our job. The country would gladly leave the politicking and grandstanding to you, which frankly has done nothing to revive your sad political future.

Thank you.

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