Monthly road clearing operations will now be conducted by barangays pursuant to a directive issued last week by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
In Memorandum Circular No. 2013-017 issued on Jan. 25, 2023, Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Felicito Valmocina reminded all punong barangays and members of the Sangguniang Barangays to conduct the monthly Barangay Road Clearing Operations (BaRCO) covering roads and areas that are under the management of the barangays, such as all barangay roads, minor or tertiary roads, streets, alleys and other roads officially turned over to barangays.
They were likewise directed to maintain municipal roads cleared and turned over by the municipal government and submit monthly reports on the road clearing operations to the DILG municipal office.
The barangay councils were also told to implement policies for the efficient conduct of the regular road clearing operations such as enforcement of no-parking, one-side parking, or other similar strategies, in accordance with an ordinance duly enacted by the Sangguniang Bayan.
Any violation related to road clearing operations outside the coverage of the barangays shall be immediately reported to the proper authorities for their immediate and appropriate actions, the DILG stated.
Among the violations include obstruction, illegal constructions, illegally parked vehicles and others. The violations shall be reported to the municipal mayor in case of municipal roads, the governor for provincial roads and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for national roads.
The DILG warned that for failure to perform their roles and responsibilities to reclaim public barangay roafs from being used for private ends, and to clear public barangay roads from obstructions and/or illegal constructions including the maintenance of turned-over roads may constitute gross negligence which may be subject to disciplinary proceedings in accordance with Sec. 60 of Republic Act 7160.
The circular was issued seven months after the DILG issued guidelines on the implementation of road clearing in the New Normal in June 2022.
Aside from directing local government units to clear their own roads, DILG MC No. 2022-085 also ordered municipal governments, through the Sangguniang Bayan, to enact a road clearing ordinance.
The ordinance, it stated, should provide a definition or enumeration of prohibited road obstructions or encroachments, procedure of giving due notice to violators, reasonable penalties imposed on violators, and awareness-raising and grievance mechanisms.
DILG suggested that the SB may also include in the measure a displacement strategy for those affected, such as the provision of alternative parking spaces, transfer of vendors to authorized vending sites, and resettlement or referral of homeless persons or occupants of obstructing shanties to the appropriate national government agency; and rehabilitation strategies for reclaimed roads such as cleaning, greening and installation of street lights.
The Sanggunian has the option to enact an entirely new law road clearing ordinance or to integrate the provisions with their existing road/traffic management codes or ordinance.
Pursuant to the circular, the road clearing operation shall be conducted on the existing road right-of-way, including the sidewalk, road shoulders and the travelway.
It reminded the LGUs that no encroachment or obstruction which are part of any building or permanent structure may be removed without due notice to the owner and no electric pole shall be removed without due coordination with the operator or owner.
It also stressed that the circular shall not be used as basis for the eviction of persons or demolition of dwellings not otherwise encroaching sidewalks or roads.
On the other hand, obstructing trees may be removed by the LGU in accordance with the rules and regulations imposed by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).