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Poe on traffic emergency powers: I’m not in the driver’s seat, it’s an admin issue

/ 09:40 AM September 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Thursday stressed that she should not be blamed for the denial to grant emergency powers to President Duterte to address worsening vehicular traffic conditions and transportation woes.

“I am not the one in the driver’s seat, when it comes to traffic. It’s an administration issue, not a legislative one,” Poe said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.

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Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, insisted that concerned government officials pushing for the special emergency powers failed to justify its need.

She pointed out that President Duterte has the power to consolidate Cabinet members who have something to do with traffic — DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) and the DOTr (Department of Transportation) — for the drafting of a traffic masterplan.

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“They could have huddled over a traffic plan. That’s all I have been asking for — a traffic plan and a transportation plan — which they did not submit,” Poe said.

“If they say we did submit a list of projects for emergency powers, yes they did, it included facial recognition software for their employees. What does that have to do with decongestion?” she added.

Poe explained that emergency power is no longer needed as existing laws are in place, particularly procurement laws.

“I don’t know if it’s ignorance of the law or playing ignorant but I am sure they could have done their research. There are already several laws in place,” Poe said, citing Republic Act 8941 or the Procurement Law which has contingent measures for emergency procurement.

Poe further noted that Duterte even released an executive order which exempts the Department of Transportation from going through the Government Procurement Policy Board.

“There are laws already in place. All they have to do was utilize them. Even the Supreme Court has issued several laws that would help them,” the senator said.

During the oath-taking of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines in Malacañang, Duterte chided Poe for supposedly blocking his emergency powers to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

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The President said the traffic situation in Metro Manila was the lawmaker’s “legacy.”

“Pero ‘yang Edsa, hinayaan ko talaga. There was this one lady senator who said na: ‘No, no, ma-corrupt ‘yan.’ Hindi pa nga nag-umpisa ng project, nagsasalita na,” the President said during the oath-taking of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines in Malacañang.

“Sinadya ko talaga ‘yan. Pagdating ng panahon p***** i**, meron na ngang solution eh sabihin niyo ‘corruption’ … Yan ang legacy niya. Make it a legacy ng pagka-politiko. It’s not mine,” the President said.

During a Senate hearing headed by the Senate public services committee last Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade also pushed anew for granting of the President’s special emergency powers to address transportation and congestion problems in the country. /gsg

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