Congress tells group: Show proof of claims vs Tugade at DOTr
CEBU CITY — The Commission on Appointment (CA) will ask a commuter’s welfare group to present their evidence in opposing the appointment of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Rep. Benhur Salimbangon of Cebu’s 4th district, the appointment committee chairman, said the Road Users Protection Advocates (RUPA) would be given a chance to give their side during the confirmation hearing scheduled this month.
“They (RUPA) will be heard,” said Salimbangon. “Their allegations against Secretary Tugade must be backed by evidence.”
Salimbangon said he received a letter from RUPA on Oct. 19, asking the appointments body to reject the appointment of Tugade as President Duterte’s secretary of the Department of Transportation, saying he was not qualified for the post.
The group, an umbrella network of road users, raised the issue of conflict of interest and competence, among others.
Salimbangon said in a phone interview that he believed Tugade was qualified to be transportation secretary because otherwise, he would not have passed a screening committee and be appointed by President Duterte.
He, however, said the group would be given a chance to be heard and substantiate their allegations as their first letter did not come with documents.
“It is unfair to accuse without proof,” he added. “The Secretary will also have the chance to answer the allegations.”
Salimbangon stressed that the commission would not listen to complaints without basis.
In a two-page letter to Salimbangon, RUPA chairman Ray Junia said Tugade failed on his promise to solve the traffic crisis within 100 days.
Since the traffic has worsened, he said Tugade has come out with “incredible and fantastic” traffic solutions that included putting up cable cars over the length of Laguna de Bay that would connect the southern province of Laguna to Metro Manila.
Junia said the idea, which was copied from La Paz, Bolivia, was not only costly but would take years to construct.
Tugade had proposed to transform the MRT Line 2 into a Bus Rapid Transit.
But Junia said even Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, shot down the proposal since the narrow lanes such as the intersection of Shaw Boulevard might not be able to handle BRT well as there would only be a single lane left for private vehicles.
RUPA also raised the issue of conflict of interest being levied against Tugade by lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate in separate hearings for the emergency powers package being sought by the DOTr to address the worsening traffic situation.
“Secretary Tugade is both suspect for loyalty and competence. On loyalty, his business connection with the Ayala Group, plus his appointment of top Ayala officials to sensitive positions at the DOTr was brought to public attention, prompting some solons to question his loyalty. Ayala Group has mega contracts with the DOTr,” Junia said
“On competence, DOTr top officials’ admission that what they submitted to justify the emergency powers was without a study, making the public believe that it was a wish list, smacks of incompetence at the highest order and is equivalent to an insult to Congress,” he added. SFM
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