Panel OKs traffic emergency powers
Opening private subdivision roads, stopping courts from issuing temporary restraining orders (TROs), and canceling contracts are among the new powers of the Duterte administration in dealing with the traffic crisis within three years under a bill the House transportation committee approved on Tuesday.
By a 17-1 vote, the panel chaired by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento sent the proposed Traffic Crisis Act, a stop-gap measure to relieve traffic congestion in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao, for plenary consideration.
The bill designates the secretary of transportation as the “traffic chief,” who will be granted “full power and authority to streamline the management of traffic and transportation, and control road use in identified metropolitan areas.”
The Duterte administration is seeking “emergency powers” from Congress to allow it to respond to the web of problems hounding the transportation sector, including corruption-riddled contracts, right-of-way troubles and massive gridlocks paralyzing metropolitan centers.
Under the bill, which will have an effectivity of three years upon passage, the traffic chief will enjoy supervision and control over, among other agencies, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and its Cebu and Davao counterparts, the Land Transportation Office, the Highway Patrol Group of the Philippine National Police and the Road Board.
Among the powers to be wielded by the traffic chief are:
Administer and implement all traffic enforcement operations, traffic engineering services and traffic education programs.
Modify, amend or expand the functions and authority of any of the covered agencies and officers in relation to matters affecting land-based traffic as approved by the President.
Implement a unified traffic system in metropolitan areas.
Review, modify, override or cancel franchises, concessions, contracts, permits and
licenses issued by any of the covered agencies or component local government units, as well as rules and procedures for awarding these.
Establish within metropolitan areas a single ticketing system for all kinds of violations of traffic rules and regulations.
The traffic chief will also enjoy “rule-making power,” which means the power to issue, enact, review, harmonize, amend, revise, revoke or
repeal existing traffic regulations, policies, ordinances,
orders and circulars issued and enacted by the covered agencies to promote efficient mobility.
The traffic chief will also identify private subdivision or village roads that will comprise “friendship routes” which will serve as additional access points and secondary channels for road traffic.
The proposed law mandates the review of existing contracts and concessions for transportation projects, and the traffic chief “may initiate any action necessary to effect the modification, revocation, rescission or nullification of the identified contracts and concessions.”
TRO, preliminary injunction
The bill states that no court besides the Supreme Court may issue any TRO or preliminary injunction against the government or any of its subdivisions restraining, prohibiting or compelling the following:
Bidding out or procurement of priority projects, including infrastructure.
Acquisition, clearance and development of right-of-way or site of any transportation project.
Commencement, prosecution, execution, implementation or operation of any transportation project.
Termination or cancellation of any transportation project.
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