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Random Thoughts | Proposed metropolitan governments Attention: People of the Philippines

“The role of metropolitan planning is to present in a systematic way the choice that population can make in guiding the development of the metropolis.” (William W. Nash, Jr., “The Effectiveness of Metropolitan Planning,” Taming Megalopolis, 1967)


In 1970, when I was taking up a Masters Degree in Environmental Planning at the Institute of Planning, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, we studied the case of Metro Manila. Our main recommendation then was to establish a Metropolitan Government in our National Capital Region wherein its political leaders are elected by its constituencies for efficient and effective administration of this Megalopolis.

Unfortunately, this proposal of ours fell on deaf ears of then local political leaders and Representatives in NCR: Up to this day said proposal is still very relevant. This failure to establish such Metropolitan Government created the currently wide chaos and confusions being experienced in NCR! This is one of the valid, reasons why we are pushing now for the adoption of a Federal System to balance development in our country and heal the “cancerous” growth in NCR. Other emerging Megapolises in the Philippines are Metro Cebu and Metro Davao. Obviously, we must properly address the high rate of urbanization occurring in the Philippines. No to status-quo. Yes, to real transformation in administering our urban centers. We Filipinos better wake up to the realities of the phenomena of globalization and urbanization.

Toronto of Canada is one of the best planned Megalopolis I’ve seen so far. It’s very efficient mass transportation using trains and air-conditioned huge underground pedestrian subway below its city center with shops and eateries are products of scientific urban planning courtesy of Toronto’s Metropolitan Government. Compared to Toronto, our Metro Manila, without a Metropolitan Government is indeed a nightmare! “Kailan ba tayo matututo?” Let’s learn from the experiences of advanced countries in this regard.

The Metropolitan Government of Toronto performs a “wholesaler” role in the service fields such as water supply and sewage disposal, and traffic, while the Local Government Units (LGUs) perform a “retailer” role “in these same fields. Toronto Transit Commission takes care of the transportation needs of the Megalopolis.

Toronto Metropolitan Government’s three major achievements were: 1) Securing It Political Base, 2) Resolving Specific Services Crisis, and 3) Provision of Capital Finances. Of course it also encountered a lot of challenges Metropolitan Government, the problems of a progressing Metropolis are sufficiently addressed.

An international expert metropolitan planner rightly opined: “Toronto’s Metropolitan Government when evaluated in terms of the totality of its achievements, has compiled an exceedingly impressive record during its first ten years of existence. It is now the responsibility of its parent body, the Provincial (equivalent to a Federated Regional) Government, to make any adjustments that may be necessary to assure this will again be true at the completion of (Toronto’s) Metro’s second decade of operations.” It indeed passed the test of times.

If the Philippines is federalized into three Federated Regions, as being proposed by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, the Metropolitan Government of NCR will be under the jurisdiction of the Luzon Federal Region. The other future Cebu and Davao Metropolitan Governments will be under the jurisdiction of Visayas and Mindanao Federal Regions respectively.

Recently, a noted Filipino international urban planner in a TV interview, made a number of proposals to solve the traffic and other problems of NCR. Unfortunately, he failed to mention the establishment of a Metropolitan Government in this Megalopolis as we did way back in 1970 and is still doing today.

Our national government should also consider now the establishment of a Metropolitan Government in Metro Cebu. We think that it is ripe now for a Cebu Metropolitan Government. Let’s all wake up to the imperative now of two Metropolitan Government for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. In due time a Davao Metropolitan Government must also be established.

In a rapidly urbanizing and globalizing world, effective leaders must be visionary, action-oriented or pro-active and with strong political will to make dreams come true. They must also be responsible stewards of God’s creation. Our Dream Philippine Shared Vision of: “A Nation of God-loving people, United in Diversity, will full Democracy, Diamond-Shape Just Society, Sustainable Prosperity and Lasting Peace “will guide all Filipinos on where we want to go.

It is indeed very ironic, with so many bright minds in our Cabinet and Congress that they continue to go around in circles like chickens without heads not knowing what to do with the messy situation in Metro Manila. For one, they spend so much of our money and time debating up to now on how to properly address the nagging EDSA traffic crisis. “How Dare You!”, a frustrated teenager recently said. And to borrow a word from a former U.S. President, establish now a Manila Metropolitan Government, “S…D!”

We call on the citizens of National Capital Region (NC) and Metro Cebu to knock some sense into the heads of your Representatives to do the needful so that Metropolitan Governments are established in your respective region. Go for an honest-to-goodness Constitutional Reform to make possible systems or structural reform needed to establish Federal Regional and Metropolitan Governments in the Philippines and make our country competitive in a globalizing world. Status-quo will lead us to hell: This is our message to all Filipinos.

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