Drilon files bill giving Duterte crisis powers
Taking the first step toward solving debilitating traffic in Metro Manila and other key cities, Sen. Franklin Drilon yesterday filed a bill granting President Duterte emergency powers to build or repair infrastructure that could ease the transport crisis.
Swiftly acting on the request of the Duterte administration, Drilon filed Senate Bill No. 11 that would authorize the President to use simpler and faster methods of procurement for infrastructure and transportation projects.
This would spare the government the oft-tedious public bidding process, which could take years and even spawn lawsuits.
“The emergency power being sought for President Duterte will capacitate him in addressing the horrendous traffic situation within and outside Metro Manila. [It is] already a ‘necessity’ given the magnitude of the transportation crisis that not only impedes the mobility of people, goods and services, but also threatens the livability of our cities,” Drilon said in a statement.
Effective 2 years
If passed into law, the proposed Transportation Crisis Act of 2016 will be effective for two years.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier spoke about plans to seek emergency powers from Congress to address the traffic crisis, which costs the country P2.4 billion daily, according to a 2013 study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Drilon said such economic loss could balloon to P6 billion daily if the traffic crisis would remain unresolved.
“It is imperative therefore to give the President of the Philippines emergency powers to immediately address the crisis, otherwise its cost to the economy and environment, as well as to the functionality and livability of our cities will continue to hamper our overall growth and development,” read his bill’s explanatory note.
The measure would enable the administration to utilize alternative modes of procuring materials, equipment and services for the “construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of transportation projects” aimed at reducing traffic congestion in metropolitan areas.
Procurement methods specified in the bill were: selective bidding, under which government may invite preselected suppliers or consultants; direct contracting, where a single supplier submits its proposal which “may be accepted immediately or after some negotiations”; repeat order, or the procurement from a previous winning bidder to “replenish goods under a contract previously awarded”; shopping, or procurement off the shelf “directly from suppliers of known qualification,” and negotiated procurement, or a speedy option in times of emergencies or calamities.
“In all instances, the President shall ensure that the most advantageous price for the government is obtained and that the procedure is undertaken in a transparent manner,” read the six-page bill.
It also prohibited lower courts from issuing temporary restraining orders or injunctions against critical transport-related projects, giving such power solely to the Supreme Court.
The bill imposed the bar on court orders that could inhibit right-of-way acquisition, bids and awards for transportation projects, the implementation or operation of any transportation project identified by the President, the termination of transportation projects and “the undertaking or authorization of any other lawful activity necessary for any transportation project identified by the President.”
Drilon also proposed to centralize traffic management in the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
His bill traced the problematic traffic management to the “poor enforcement of traffic rules” given the overlapping traffic-related functions of several government agencies, including the MMDA, the DOT, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, the Land Transportation Office, and local government units.
The measure would grant Mr. Duterte the power to “reorganize” these agencies, to “abolish or create offices; split, group, or merge positions; transfer functions, equipment, properties, records and personnel; institute drastic cost-cutting measures, and take such other related actions necessary” in pursuit of resolving the traffic crisis.
It sought to address heavy traffic not just in the National Capital Region but also in urban hubs such as Cebu and Cagayan De Oro.
The measure would be effective for two years, “unless sooner withdrawn by a resolution of Congress, without prejudice to rights and benefits that may have been vested, and culpabilities and liabilities that may have been incurred.”
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