DOTr cold to Poe’s idea to tweak procurement law
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) was cold to the idea of just amending the existing law that allows negotiated procurement in emergency cases, instead of granting President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the traffic crisis in the country.
Senator Grace Poe broached the idea when she interpellated on the Senate floor the proposed P53 billion budget of the DOT for 2017.
Poe chairs the Senate committee on public services, which conducted hearings on a bill, seeking to grant Duterte emergency powers to solve the traffic problem. The committee has yet to come up with a report for plenary discussion.
“The DOTr has proposed a bill on emergency powers. I know, we’re taking up the budget but one section proposes special mode of procurement of transportation projects and it includes direct contracting and direct negotiation of contract. Can’t the DOTr, just resort to Republic Act 9184 or The Government Procurement Act, which allows for negotiated procurement under extraordinary circumstances?” she asked.
“It is your opinion that the current traffic crisis does not fall under the definition of man-made calamity. If Congress for example gives them the power, if we amend that particular provision to include not just acts of God or force majeure but to actually include traffic as a national emergency, would that make it easier for them or do they still have to resort to an emergency power?” Poe said.
But Senator Loren Legarda, who was defending the DOTr’s budget as chair of the Senate committee on finance, said amending the law would take some time.
“It is our view that to amend the law, it would take some time, it takes quite a while to amend the law,” Legarda said.
“So the effect would be either if you amend the law that could address the problem, the granting of emergency power can also do it but I believe that amending the law would take some time,” she said.
But Poe went on, saying that Congress can just amend the law to include traffic as an emergency case or override it with the passage of the emergency powers bill.
“I believe that the procurement issue is not the only issue that will be addressed by the emergency powers,” Legarda said.
Poe later asked what would be the DOTr’s priority projects if Congress grants the emergency powers being sought for the President.
Legarda said among them are the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System and integrated bus terminal system.
Poe seemed not convinced, however, saying the government should be able to justify the need for emergency powers.
“That’s why we urge them to make do, in the absence of emergency power, to just make do with the interagency council and to be proactive about it,” Legarda said./rga
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