DOTr leaves it to Congress to push for traffic emergency powers
MANILA, Philippines — As the Department of Transportation (DOTr) formally withdrew its bid for traffic emergency powers, it’s now again up to Congress to continue pushing for the passage of pending bills on the matter.
Transport Undersecretary for Roads Mark Richmund de Leon told the Inquirer on Wednesday that they were “not supportive, nor [interested] any more” in the bills filed by Sen. Francis Tolentino and Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento.
“We are just being consistent now with the executive branch when [President] Duterte said he didn’t want [emergency powers] anymore. So that is the position of the department now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do our jobs anymore. We [may] be faced by some challenges but we will pursue nevertheless our programs,” De Leon said.
“We never said it was absolutely necessary. It would just fast-track some of our programs and immunize our department and other agencies (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways) … from court injunctions,” he added.
Not seeing eye to eye
For weeks now, the DOTr has been butting heads with Sen. Grace Poe, who demanded that it show a comprehensive traffic master plan to justify the provision of emergency powers.
The impasse was “costing them so much time,” De Leon said, so the DOTr decided to forgo its bid altogether.
Part of the problem, he noted, was that legislators seemed unsure about whether they were asking for a transport or a traffic roadmap.
De Leon insisted that the DOTr had already followed the National Transport Policy crafted by the National Economic Development Authority.
A traffic roadmap, however, was out of the question, because traffic management was not included in the department’s mandate.
The authors of the bills on emergency powers merely envisioned that the sitting transport secretary would also serve as the traffic czar, but the organizational structures of the country’s departments actually delineate traffic from transport, De Leon clarified.
Under the current bureaucratic setup, only the MMDA and the city governments are empowered to act on traffic management policies. The DOTr, on the other hand, is constrained to act on transport services.
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