'Traffic crisis bill may be template for better transport system' | Inquirer News

‘Traffic crisis bill may be template for better transport system’

/ 03:59 PM October 20, 2016

The traffic crisis bill in Congress would serve as a template for other municipalities and cities to improve their transportation systems , the chairperson of the House of Representatives transportation committee said on Thursday.

Committee chairman Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento made this assurance as the House is deliberating on the traffic crisis bill, which would limit the extent of the traffic crisis to highly congested metropolitan areas such as Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao City.

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In his opening statement during the committee hearing Thursday, Sarmiento said the traffic crisis bill that the committee would approve is not nationwide, limiting itself only to the traffic crisis in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Davao City.

“The scope of the traffic crisis is not nationwide. The traffic crisis exists only in metropolitan areas like Metro Manila and nearby cities, Metro Cebu and Davao City,” Sarmiento said.

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He said he as committee chairman flew to Cebu and Davao and personally saw the extent of the traffic problems there.

But Sarmiento clarified that the committee’s deliberations over the traffic crisis bill–a consolidation of the bills referred to the committee addressing the traffic situation–does not mean it is sidelining the transport problems of other cities and municipalities.

He said there is no crisis in other areas but the transport system there needs to be improved.

“While we have limited the scope of the bill to these three metropolitan areas, we do not imply that other cities and municipalities do not have transport problems,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento said the traffic crisis bill would serve as a template for other areas to improve their transportation systems.

“We look forward for the Traffic Crisis Bill to also serve as a precursor for a better transport system in those areas not covered by the Transport Crisis Bill. Let it serve as a template for a better transport system to the areas near Metro Manila,” Sarmiento said.

Sarmiento said the committee would convene its technical working group to consolidate the bill, before the mother committee approves the substitute bill.

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Sarmiento said the committee seeks to craft a traffic crisis bill that is complete, constitutionally sound, and responsive to the needs of commuters.

The committee turned its attention to the traffic crisis bill, dropping the term “emergency powers” that was initially asked from the House of Representatives by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ: Duterte asks for emergency powers to ease Metro traffic nightmare

Sarmiento said there are solutions that may be implemented by government agencies without granting the President any emergency powers.

“We have pointed this out to the Department of Transportation and its attached agencies. There are immediate solutions that only need brain power and political will, like prudent law enforcement,” Sarmiento said.

Tugade submitted a proposed draft of the bill that sought to grant Duterte special powers to solve traffic, which includes among others opening up the roads in the subdivision to ease traffic congestion, go to direct contracting to speed up infrastructure projects, and resolve injunction and right of way issues delaying the implementation of infrastructure projects.

Under the Constitution, only Congress can grant the President emergency powers.

“In times of war or other national emergency, the Congress may, by law, authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy,” according to Article VI, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution.

READ: Congress ‘OK’ with emergency powers for Duterte

Sarmiento earlier identified another crisis–a “displacement crisis” affecting the drivers and employees of public utility vehicles who would be displaced due to other forms of mass transportation system.

Sarmiento urged the government to provide a support mechanism for these displaced workers. CDG/rga

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TAGS: bill, Cebu, Davao City, Department of Transportation, House of Representatives, Metro Manila, traffic, Traffic Crisis Bill, transport system
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