Recto seeks inquiry on propriety of granting Duterte crisis powers
Two more measures, including a resolution by Minority Leader Ralph Recto seeking an inquiry into the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address the traffic mess in the country, have been filed at the Senate.
Recto filed Tuesday Senate Resolution 59, directing the appropriate committees in the chamber to conduct an inquiry on the “propriety” of granting the President special or emergency powers to immediately solve the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.
“I am not against the emergency powers na hinihingi ng (sought by the) President but I filed the resolution to find out exactly what emergency powers they need and that they want. Alamin natin from them specifically. Ano ba talaga ang gusto ninyo? (Let’s find out what they specifically want.)” he said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
“I’m willing to trust the President. I think the President is a very sincere individual. I’ve known him since 1998 pero ngayon na presidente sya, nakita ko naman sa Sona (state of the nation address), ramdam ko ang sinseridad nya (but now that he’s president, I can see the sincerity from his Sona),” he further said.
Recto said the Senate should prioritize the issue, noting the estimated P2.4 billion losses a day or P900 billion a year in potential income caused by Metro Manila’s traffic jam based on the Roadmap Study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, who belongs to the “supermajority” bloc in the Senate, has also filed a bill seeking to grant Duterte special powers to effectively address the “negative economic and social impact of the traffic situation in Manila.”
Ejercito, in filing Senate Bill No 154 or the “Transportation Crisis Act of 2016, said the President needs special powers to utilize all government resources and executive actions to deal with the problem.
While he was not against the proposal, Recto enumerated several proposals that he said should be included in several bills filed in the Senate and the House to protect public interest.
He said information regarding all programs and projects, especially contracts that will require sovereign guarantees, for instance, “must be FOI-compliant.”
Duterte earlier signed an executive order for the imposition of the Freedom of Information (FOI) in the executive branch.
Recto said all projects must be approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board, which is chaired by the President himself.
They must also comply with the standards of accountability and transparency, consumer rights, affordability, public access, safety, and security, he said.
The proposed legislation, he said, must likewise contain safeguards to protect public interest.
“Whenever applicable, the implementing agency shall assess the affordability of fee or tariff, and conduct a willingness-to-pay survey and consultation among the users of the infrastructure facility,” Recto said.
The implementing agency, he said, should also post in its website the approved starting fare or user fee in a project, as well as the approved parametric formula on fare increases or adjustments, if applicable.
“The ill-conceived “premium payment” scheme wherein private bidders outbid themselves in offering funds on top of project cost must be dropped as it would just inflate cost and punish the consumers as the premium paid will be recouped in higher user charges,” he added.
Recto pointed out that not all solutions to the traffic crisis require cement, saying many simply entail “common sense and political will.”
“Traffic rules must be implemented without fear or favor. Road obstructions must be cleared. Widened roads should not end up as parking spaces or adhoc PUV terminals,” he said.
There must also be a campaign to observe road discipline, said the senator. He then urged the Philippine National Police to fill the 24,000 vacant positions in its organization and assign those hired to traffic management duties.
Recto said the automatic grant of government permits and licenses could also be incorporated in the proposed legislation. CDG
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