Lawmakers wary ‘blanket’ powers for traffic encroach on LGU functions
At least four lawmakers are opposed to the grant of what they said are broad emergency powers that included mandating local government units (LGUs) to cede their traffic management functions to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
In a joint statement, Representatives Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela, Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list, Alfredo Garbin Jr. of Ako Bicol party-list and Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list said the DOTr should not be given blanket authority to “shake up” offices and LGUs.
Roque said there was no need for Congress to pass a law giving additional powers, including the authority to reorganize DOTr agencies, as President Duterte could already do this.
“No such law necessary. The President can already reorganize agencies through an (executive order),” Roque said in the statement.
Garbin said Congress has not even seen a detailed list of projects that would require emergency powers.
In a hurry
He said while Malacañang appears to be “in a hurry” to acquire emergency powers, those who would wield the powers “have yet to come up with concrete projects.”
Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, chair of the House transportation committee, which is deliberating on the proposed grant of emergency powers, said his panel has not suspended or deferred the proposal to designate Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade as traffic czar under the bill entitled “Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016.”
The bill says “all powers, authority and functions over land traffic management” of the Metro Manila Development Authority, local government units, agencies under the DOTr, Philippine National Police, Toll Regulatory Board, Philippine Ports Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Civil Aeronautics Board, Manila International Airport Authority and other agencies “shall be vested in the traffic crisis manager.”
“It is only the President who can reorganize these agencies,” said Albano in the statement. Roque said all that was needed in the meantime is “political will” to enforce traffic rules.
Atienza, also senior deputy minority leader, said the DOTr should first exhaust all legal means to ease road congestion in urban areas before seeking blanket powers.
Road congestion has made its presence felt not only in Metro Manila but also in other urban areas, like Davao City where Mr. Duterte recently said he wanted to relocate settlers to pave the way for new roads and ease traffic.
The President told leaders of settlers in urban poor communities in Davao, during a dialogue with them in July, that he would not uproot the poor from their communities without a relocation site.
The traffic situation in Davao City, said the President, must be addressed by clearing areas for new roads of informal settlers.
“The traffic problem is slowly worsening. Something must be done,” Mr. Duterte told the urban poor leaders.
The President pleaded to the poor for understanding, saying only 103 families would be displaced for the benefit of thousands of others.
“The complaint of businessmen, workers and all ordinary residents is that the traffic is already too much a burden,” Mr. Duterte said. With a report from Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao
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