Recto: Scope of Duterte emergency powers alarming
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto has expressed alarm over the scope of the emergency powers being sought by President Rodrigo Duterte after an official of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) admitted that it would be used not only in Metro Manila and other key cities but in the entire country.
At the fourth and last hearing of the Senate committee on public services, Recto questioned the scope of the bill submitted by the DOTr to the body as it covers land, sea and air transportation.
“It would appear that what you want is emergency powers for the entire country—land sea and air— geographically for the entire country. Is that the intention of the DOTr? Is that what you actually requesting for? Kasi kung ganun parang walang focus (because if that were the case, then there’s no focus),” he said.
DOTr Undersecretary Raoul Creencia pointed out that the bill was aimed at addressing the traffic congestion not just in the metropolis but also in other urban areas like Cebu, Davao as well as other areas which are on the verge of experiencing heavy traffic.
“So sa madaling salita, buong Pilipinas (So, in other words, in the entire Philippines)?” Recto asked to which Creencia said, “Yes your honor. Those [areas] that are experiencing and on the verge of experiencing traffic.”
“So maliwanag buong Pilipinas (So, it’s clear that’s it’s for the entire Philippines)?” the senator asked again.
“Yes, your honor. (This is a) wholistic approach to address the problem,” the DOTr official said.
Recto said it would be chaos if a traffic crisis manager will be appointed as proposed in the bill to handle the traffic problem in the entire country, instead of in only three key areas like Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.
“Kung ang scope na sinasabi nyo ay buong Pilipinas, traffic crisis manager kayo ng buong Pilipinas, hindi lang ng Metro Manila. Once you say buong Pilipinas under this bill, lahat pakikiaalaman nyo as traffic crisis manager?” he pointed out.
(If the scope you are referring to is the whole Philippines, then you would be the traffic crisis manager of the whole Philippines, not just in Metro Manila. Once you say that the whole Philippines is under this bill, you would tackle all as traffic crisis manager?)
“We will pinpoint areas your honor,” Creencia said.
“So you’ve not pinpointed them today? Yun ang sinasabi ko ngayon, mawawala ang (That’s what I’m saying now, we would lose) focus,” said the senator.
“In effect, traffic crisis manager kayo ng buong Pilipinas, kukunin nyo ang kapangyarihan ng lahat ng local government unit. Ako walang problema sa MMDA, buong Metro Manila sa ngayon ha, subukan natin. Pero bakit buong Pilipinas, magulo yan…
(In effect, you will be the crisis manager of the entire Philippines, you will take the power of all the local government units. I have no problem with the MMDA, for the whole of Metro Manila, for now, but let’s try. But if it’s the whole Philippines, that would be chaotic.)
“Malawak na malawak yung kapangyarihan na nilalagay nyo dito at nakakabahala kung wala talagang plano talaga,” Recto said.
(The scope of power you are putting here is very vast and it’s really alarming if there’s no plan yet.)
Before this, the senator noted that Section 7 of DOTr’s bill provides for the formulation of the decongestion network reform plan.
Recto then asked whether the DOTr already has a plan or it would still craft a new one.
“Kasi it would appear wala pa kayong plano (Because it would appear that you have no plan yet)?” he asked.
Creencia explained while there is already an ongoing preparation for the DOTr plan, the department wants a “decongestion plan” that will involve other concerned agencies.
“So sa madaling salita, wala pa ngang plano (So, simply put, there’s no plan yet)?” Recto asked again to which Creencia answered: “Wala pa po (None yet).”
Recto also questioned where the DOTr would get the funds for its proposed projects under the emergency powers, which was estimated at P1.3 trillion.
The senator pointed out that the proposed emergency powers bill was not a supplemental budget or a General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“We are thinking, your honor, that since we cannot fund it under the GAA–the present funding with the General Appropriations Act…” DOTr Undrsecretary Garry De Guzman said but he was cut by Recto.
“So ibig sabihin (So it means) you’re admitting Usec that it’s not found in the 2017 NEP (National Expenditures Program)?” asked the senator to which De Guzman answered yes.
“So even if we give you emergency powers, there is no funding source,” Recto said again. CDG
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