MMDA fires 1,800 after Palace cuts budget in half

Published by rudy Date posted on January 4, 2011

THE Metro Manila Development Authority said Monday it will lay off 1,800 contractual employees after Malacañang cut its budget by half and it struggles with over P500 million in garbage bills that have been piling up since July 2010.

The layoffs will include traffic aides, flood control workers, street sweepers, drivers, painters, plumbers, welders, electricians and clerks who represent 50 percent of the agency’s 3,800 contractual workers, said Undersecretary Alex Cabanilla, who works under Chairman Francis Tolentino.

The Aquino administration cut the agency’s budget to P981 million this year, which is 52 percent lower than its P2.076 billion allotment in 2010.

Moreover, the Budget Department had yet to release P730 million of the agency’s 2010 budget, Cabanilla said.

The agency last year had operating expenses of P300 million a month, and of that P77 million went to personnel.

officials assured the public that the agency’s services would not suffer, but they did not say how they could do the same job with half their contractual manpower gone.

The agency has 8,000 employees, and of those 3,600 are contractual. The contracts for half of them will not be renewed this year, Cabanilla said.

Agency officials warned in December that the cut in its budget in 2011 would mean more traffic problems and flooding in Metro Manila.

In the wake of a high-profile smashup that killed a retired judge and his wife just before Christmas, a consultant for the agency said the lack of traffic enforcers was to blame for the 2,086 road accidents on the 12.4-kilometer Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

“More traffic enforcers, fewer accidents,” the consultant, Maximo Dillas, said.

“The purpose of visibility of traffic enforcers, even those on the night shift, is to reduce traffic accidents.”

But the cut in the agency’s budget this year should make such visibility unlikely.

Last month, Metro Manila was spared a garbage crisis over the holiday season after dump operators accepted an IOU from the MMDA for more than P500 million in arrears.

Philippine Ecology System Corp., IPM Environmental Services Inc., and International Solid Waste Management Integrated Systems Inc. agreed to allow the continued disposal of trash in three dumps: in Navotas, Rodriguez in Rizal province, and in Payatas in Quezon City.

At the time, the MMDA had appealed to the Budget Department and to lawmakers for more funds. The agency is also seeking more funds from the Office of the President.

But Congress passed the General Appropriations Act for 2011 with no increases in the MMDA’s budget.

The agency pays the three contractors P100 million a month to operate the Navotas landfill, the Payatas-controlled landfill, and the 19-hectare Rodriguez dump.

The three disposal sites receive an average of 1,450 truck trips a day, or about 25,000 cubic meters of garbage. –Rio N. Araja, Manila Standard Today

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