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Poe on emergency powers: It cannot be a shotgun approach

/ 03:12 PM September 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — While insisting that she is not against emergency powers, Senator Grace Poe on Friday said granting and using such powers “cannot be a shotgun approach.”

“Let me stress that I am not against emergency powers. In fact, granting it does not solely rely on me. I am just one vote in the Senate. Like my colleagues, I have to be convinced why it is needed,” Poe, who chairs the public services committee, said in a statement.

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“For you to give something as immense as the emergency powers, you have to be sniper accurate, it cannot be a shotgun approach. It’s like giving a loaded gun to a child if they don’t have a plan,” she added.

During Tuesday’s hearing of the committee into traffic problems gripping the Metro, Poe and Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade clashed over the need to grant the President emergency powers.

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READ: Poe, Tugade trade barbs after heated Senate hearing

Tugade argued then that such powers would help address procurement and right-of-way (ROW) acquisition issues as well as create policies to alleviate traffic in Metro Manila without fear of injunctions.

But Poe, in her statement said: “There are already several laws in place to address the legal matters, such as procurement and right-of-way.”

The senator cited Republic Act 9184 which she said already provides the Department of Transportation (DOTr) alternative modes of procurement and limits the period to just three to six months.

She added that an executive order, issued by the President, “allows agencies to directly avail of alternative modes of procurement such as direct contracting, repeat order, or negotiated procurement without having to get an exemption from the Government Procurement Policy Board.”

On the issue of ROW acquisition, Poe cited RA 10752 which she noted has a clear expedited procedure that sets the negotiated sale to just 30 days.

“If that fails, the expropriation case soon after for which Writ of Possession must be issued after seven days from deposit,” she said.

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“They cannot be hiding behind court delays because the Supreme Court already reiterated its marching orders in a circular from the Office of the Court Administrator,” she added.

Poe then explained that OCA Circular 113-2019 reiterates that it is “ministerial upon the court to issue the Writ of Possession within seven days from the deposit of 100 [percent] of the zonal valuation according to BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue)” and that the judge “cannot order further hearings on the property value,” which would delay the issuance of the Writ of Possession.

“While we look for quick fixes, let us not lose sight of the fact that still the best way to decongest our roads is to have mass transport system that will encourage people to leave their cars at home. That’s why we said we need to see the master plan,” Poe said.

READ: Poe blames lack of masterplan not lack of power for traffic woes 

The senator though reiterated that even without emergency powers “a lot can still be done.”

“DOTr, if it wants to, can very much function without more powers,” she said.

“The purchase of multi-million critical spare parts for the MRT (Metro Railway Transit) via direct contracting and negotiated procurement proves that procurement is possible in urgent cases even without emergency powers,” she said.

In fact, she said, the DOTr has engaged in several emergency procurement for the MRT without going through a bidding process.

“We can give all the powers they want but if they have no master plan, they will just end up wasting money or, worse, still not being able to achieve anything,” Poe said.  /muf

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