Over the past year, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has been carrying out an aggressive drive to clear roadsides and market areas, to ease Manila's notorious traffic congestion, and there have been sweeping - and sometimes violent - evictions of hawkers and street vendors from the city's streets and market-places. Behind this campaign is MMDA's chief, Bayani Fernando, a powerful bureaucrat who has made erasing informal vendors from Metro Manila streets a personal crusade, and whose suggestion that vendors' carts be "doused with petrol and set on fire" is frequently quoted in the press. The MMDA handles issues common to all of Metro Manila's 17 municipalities like traffic, garbage and flooding. When it was set up under the Marcos dictatorship, the MMDA was a powerful and much-feared force in the city, but nowadays, the mayors of these constituent municipalities are stronger. As a result, vendors in different municipalities have been affected by the MMDA crackdown in dramatically different ways.
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