Emergency powers pushed to ease traffic
MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade yesterday asked Sen. Francis Tolentino to lead the push for approval of a bill granting President Duterte emergency powers for two years to deal with the worsening traffic congestion in the country.
Tugade met at the Senate with Tolentino, who headed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority during the Aquino administration, to discuss details of the measure the senator was drafting.
Duterte was “not part of the equation” in the bill’s drafting, Tugade said, adding that he and Tolentino want the measure to be as comprehensive as possible.
“It would be better if we present the bill to the President if the data, details and processes are clear already,” Tugade told reporters after meeting with Tolentino.
The two officials said the measure could still be improved as the Senate and House of Representatives deliberate on the proposal.
Tolentino said the traffic congestion in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the county has become a “national emergency requiring urgent and sweeping solutions for the general welfare of the people.”
Under the bill, Tugade – under the direct supervision of Duterte – will serve as the traffic crisis chief tasked to pursue the speedy completion of transportation-related infrastructure projects, to include resolving right-of-way issues, entering into direct contracting and alternative modes of procurement.
The measure also seeks to suspend the protest mechanism provided under the procurement law and allow the Supreme Court to issue halt orders on the acquisition of sites for infrastructure projects, execution of transportation projects, opening of private village gates and termination of any transportation project.
It also seeks the drafting of a Traffic Crisis Action and Mobilization Plan that includes a listing of duties of various agencies on traffic management and an integrated traffic management plan.
The plan must also include the rationalization of land, sea and air public transportation routes and the maximization of the use of infrastructure, including roads and bridges.
Sen. Grace Poe, as chair of the public services committee, pushed for a similar bill in the Senate in the last Congress, but the measure did not prosper due to mixed signals coming from Malacañang.