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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Francis Tolentino focus platform on Local Government

That’s how much time I spend traveling from Quezon City to Makati and back every single day.
Its roughly 40 kilometers--- but it takes almost the same amount of time to reach Manaoag Church in Pangasinan via public bus and is 200 kilometers away.

In an article I read a couple of months ago, Manila Traffic was said to be the WORST—IN—THE—WORLD.  (SOURCE:

And that is based on a global evaluation conducted by Waze, the GPS-based navigation app every “smart Pinoy driver uses to avoid traffic—which in our case is next to impossible.
Scores ranging from 10 (satisfying) to 1 (miserable) were assigned after examining 50 million Waze users in 32 countries and 167 major city areas.

The Waze Global Driver Satisfaction Index were based on six key factors;  Traffic level by frequency and severity of traffic jams; Road quality and infrastructure;  Driver safety based on accidents, road hazards, and weather; Driver services like access to gas stations and easy parking; Socio-economic (World Bank) including access to cars and impact of gas prices; “Wazeyness,” the level of helpfulness and happiness within the Waze community.

At least we’ve got something in common with Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Jakarta right?
But that isn’t all! Not only do we have the worst traffic, we also have the Longest commute time from home to office with an average time of 45.5 minutes! And that is even via the supposedly fast MRT.

Imagine the amount of productive time wasted because of the traffic and the daily torturous commuter experience.

And at the center of it all, there is one agency that gets all the blame –the Metro Manila Development Authority or MMDA.

Among the functions of the department include development planning, Solid waste disposal and management; Flood control and sewerage management; Urban renewal, zoning, and land use planning, and shelter services; Health and Sanitation, urban protection and pollution control; Public safety and of course Transport and traffic management.

The MMDA is headed by a chairman appointed by the President and the list of former MMDA bosses include Imelda Marcos, VP Jojo Binay (2x), Ignacio Bunye, Benjamin Abalos, Bayani Fernando, and the most recent is Francis Tolentino.

Our group of bloggers recently had the chance to have a chat with Mr. Tolentino and it was not surprising that almost 70 percent of the questions and discussions were about traffic.

Who is Francis Tolentino?
As in his TV interviews, its easy to mistake Tolentino’s confidence as being “smug” but as we learned more about him and the things he has done or tried to do at the MMDA, I realized we were talking to a man who also shares our frustration, who had great plans but was restrained because of the bureaucracy and some outdated laws.

Tolentino  was born in Guinobatan, Albay. His parents, Isaac and Elena Tolentino, helped develop Tagaytay City into the destination we know today. Isaac Tolentino focused on increasing the city's potential in tourism and in time was able to establish Tagaytay City as one of the most famous tourist spots in the Philippines. Francis is the eldest of three children, together with his brother Abraham and sister Analyn. Being born and raised in a political family, it was no surprise that both Francis and Abraham followed in their father's footsteps to continue the family legacy.

Francis studied in Tagaytay City and also in Pasay and Mandaluyong City, he pursued his secondary education in Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. Tolentino then earned his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy in 1980 from the Ateneo de Manila University and his Bachelor of Laws in 1984 from the Ateneo de Manila University Law School. He later earned a Master of Laws from the University of Law with Public International Law as his specialization. He also earned a Masters Degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines, and a Graduate Diploma in Public Administration from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University. He is currently a candidate for Doctor of Judicial Science (International Law) in Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana.

He was first appointed to the post of OIC Mayor of Tagaytay City from 1986 to 1987 by former President Corazon Aquino. He ran unopposed in the 1995 elections and served as Mayor of Tagaytay City for nine years from January 1995 to 2004. Aside from being the mayor, he was also active as the President of the League of Cities of the Philippines and as the Executive Vice President of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines from 2001-2004. Tolentino also practiced his profession in teaching Legal Management in the Ateneo de Manila University, College of the Holy Spirit, Centro Escolar University and New Era University College of Law.

On July 27, 2010, President Benigno Aquino III appointed him as the next MMDA Chairman. His position at the MMDA made Francis Tolentino a household name (for better and worse)  for residents of Metro Manila.

Among his achievements as the MMDA Chairman includes the first ever online and social media applications of the MMDA like the Traffic Monitoring System app and the MMDA Twitter page. He also re-opened the Pasig River Ferry as an alternate transport system, implemented the South-west Integrated Provincial Transport System which consolidates all existing 85 bus terminals, upgraded Metro Manila's flood control system and pumping stations and recently, conducted the first Metro Manila Shake Drill.

As chairman of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Tolentino was able to construct a cinema, archive, library and museum located at the MMDA compound in Orense, Makati City. The cinema serves as the new archive center for Filipino films, with a capacity of 100. The goal is to showcase the local films participating during the film fest and to allow the people to view and support the film for free. For the first time under Tolentino's leadership of the MMFF, he also included categories for student and independent film makers.

Tolentino resigned from the MMDA to pursue a higher position in government,  a senate seat, which he says he believes he can do more.

One of the focus of his platform is for greater empowerment of local government units and establishment of regional clusters for increased economic benefits at the grassroots.

He said he plans to propose amendments to the Local Government Code that will accomplish the following: Increase the allocation of Internal Revenue Allotment based on performance and its automatic release to local government units (LGUs); Create a Police Youth Reserve Corps to help in peace and order and disaster response; establish community airports in support of tourism; Create a Philippine Urban Development Commission that will work closely  with LGUs to promote the concept of planned cities that will prevent the problems experienced in Metropolitan Manila from happening elsewhere.

He also mentioned about proposals for disaster preparedness and for the protection of our natural environment, but the thing that struck me the most is his proposal to provide a health insurance system for children.

“I stand for a healthy citizenry who are the real wealth of our nation who will bring us to prosperity and propose that children in school automatically become direct beneficiaries of PhilHealth and educational health insurance as an effective way of investing in their future and in the future of our country.” He says the funds could be sourced from the PCSO.

That would definitely help a lot of parents, who spend most of their savings whenever their children get sick. If he does win and push that bill, I just hope it will become more successful than his fight against traffic.

1 comment:

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