Poe, Tugade trade barbs after heated Senate hearing
MANILA, Philippines–The tension between Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade and Sen. Grace Poe, long simmering beneath the surface of diplomacy, escalated on Thursday after the senator said he should be fired for failing to ease the Metro traffic problem.
“At least when it comes to traffic and when it comes to dealing with the solutions for the traffic mess, I think somebody else should take his place,” said Poe, the Senate public services committee chair, in a television interview.
Initially, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued a subdued statement explaining that traffic management was not part of its mandate.
But Tugade, who was in Maguindanao for the launching of a DOTr program, later said the senator was “too full of herself.”
“Now, she wants to meddle in my official functions. I serve only at the pleasure of the President, not subject to the whims, caprice and theatrics of misguided politicians,” he stressed.
On Tuesday, Poe and Tugada butted heads at a Senate hearing on the need for the President to be given traffic emergency powers to allow the government to solve the problem.
The DOTr maintained that such powers would help it fast-track projects and policies to ease traffic in Metro Manila without fear of court injunctions.
However, bills in support of the department’s proposal languished in Congress.
But for Tugade, the DOTr would continue to pursue its programs and projects aimed at easing road congestion in Metro Manila and other urban areas.
“With or without emergency powers, we will do what we can,” he said in a statement.
This was not the first time the two had been at loggerheads over crucial transport issues.
In July, Poe also criticized the DOTr for the Metro Rail Transit 3’s worsening conditions months into its multibillion, four-year-long rehabilitation program. —WITH A REPORT FROM MIGUEL R. CAMUS
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