Poe tells Senate: Let’s stop P3B daily loss to traffic with special powers
MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe on Wednesday brought to the Senate floor the measure seeking emergency powers for the executive to solve the traffic crisis, calling on urgent congressional action even as she saw intense debates on the bill during sessions in January.
Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, brought the proposal to the plenary on the last day of session for the year, calling the debilitating traffic problem “a crisis of national significance requiring urgent, immediate, and focused actions from the government.”
“Congress needs to declare a national emergency with regard to traffic congestion, because traffic from highly urbanized areas is now spilling over to nearby localities and causing businesses and people to lose money and opportunities,” said Poe in her sponsorship speech.
“It is now time to untangle the mess, one that is so grave and great that it needs emergency powers to straighten it out,” she said.
Poe cited how the country has been losing P3 billion a day due to traffic, a figure that might increase to P6 billion a day by 2030, based on the estimates by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The proposal, which consolidates four measures for expanded executive authority, would grant President Duterte emergency for two years, during which he could authorize agencies to use faster procurement methods for transportation infrastructure projects.
These include “selective bidding, direct contracting, negotiated procurement and other modes under existing laws” to speed up the completion of transportation projects.
The bill also authorizes President Duterte to appoint a Traffic Crisis Manager to oversee the implementation of transport-related projects. It would likewise prohibit courts other than the Supreme Court from issuing injunctions against transport-related projects “to curb nuisance suits,” Poe said.
The proposal also comes with safeguards, including the establishment of a Congressional Oversight Committee “that will monitor their (executive agencies) every move),” and a reporting mechanism against abuses.
In pushing for the bill, Poe put the executive department to task in doing its part in implementing traffic solutions should the measure pass into law.
“We are granting emergency powers because Congress needs to do its part in helping address traffic. But we also expect the Executive department to do theirs. If this bill passes into law, then the Executive department will no longer have an excuse and should stop pointing fingers as to its inability to address the traffic crisis in the country,” she said.
Debates on the proposal are expected to begin when the session resumes in January, and Poe conceded that it will go through tedious debates.
“I know that that this bill will not undergo smooth sailing when it comes to the evaluation of this bill but we are prepared to be able to answer and accept legitimate amendments that will really help in smoothing out the problems in traffic,” she said in her speech. SFM
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