Poe sees traffic powers for Duterte by Christmas
THE SENATE is poised to expedite deliberations on the proposal to grant President Duterte emergency powers in order to address the traffic crisis, targeting its passage before the Christmas rush, provided that safeguards against abuse are put in place.
This according to Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, as she announced on Monday her receipt of a 64-page document from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) enumerating 21 transport-related projects it intended to undertake if the executive branch was granted expanded powers.
Also enclosed in the submission was the DOTr’s version of an emergency powers bill seeking a three-year grant of the expanded authority for the President to speed up infrastructure projects and other initiatives to decongest traffic in Metro Manila and other key cities.
Poe suspended hearings on the proposal last week as the DOTr had yet to file its list of projects, which she said was necessary for Congress to craft corresponding safeguards against corruption.
She said the Senate will have “to do its job” in ensuring that, while expedited, the law granting emergency powers will be clear on the bounds of the expanded authority.
“It has to be within the confines of what’s legal in the Constitution … We have to make sure also that we have the safeguards in place and all the parameters that are needed to ensure the proper implementation of the emergency powers,” Poe said.
Asked if the Senate was coordinating with the House of Representatives, Poe said there had yet to be joint discussions on the proposal, with the lower chamber being busy with hearings on the 2017 national budget.
The DOTr’s version of the bill, similar to proposals filed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon and Sen. JV Ejercito, simplifies and speeds up the procurement process for infrastructure projects through direct contracting, negotiated contracting and repeat order methods.
But a key feature of the department’s proposal is the centralization of traffic enforcement authority in a Traffic Crisis Manager, a position that shall be assumed by the DOTr Secretary.
With one manager subsuming the authority, traffic enforcement powers are stripped off other agencies, including the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Philippine National Police, Local Government Units, Toll Regulatory Board and Philippine Ports Authority.
The Traffic Crisis Manager shall also take over air and sea traffic management from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Civil Aeronautics Board and Manila International Airport Authority.
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