Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade assured members of the Senate Committee on Public Service led by Senator Grace Poe yesterday that should ‘emergency powers’ be granted to President Duterte to solve the countries ‘chaotic’ traffic conditions, all moves will be made in compliance with the directives of the committee.

“I give you my word, during my watch whatever we do, not only in relation to emergency powers, we shall be FOI-complaint, accountable and transparent. We will give you a timeline in our pursuit to what we think is necessary for this country. We shall be open and transparent when it comes to cost,” said Tugade.

At the Senate hearing, Senator Poe shared the principles the committee will use in evaluating the request to grant the President emergency powers.

“First, it must be FOI-compliant. This is one non-negotiable principle, constant in its implementation. Second, it must be fiscally responsible. The power to expedite projects is not a license to contract an expensive one. Third, it must have details and deadlines. We will not go for vague powers, or blank checks. Everything must be well defined. The parameters must be set. I assure you there will be elbowroom and wide latitude given but not wide enough for thieves to sneak in. We will also insist on deadlines. It is not enough that you will tell us that you will build a tunnel. We will require you to tell us the exact date we will see the light at the end of it. I think the most important is that we will only give you a set of powers on the condition that you will first give us the bill of particulars. The powers must be in pursuit of clearly-identified results,” said Poe.

Sec. Tugade, MMDA Officer-in-Charge Emerson Carlos and Undersecretaries for Road and Infrastructure, Air, and Rails and Toll Roads were called upon to outline their ‘top three concerns and top three projects or plans of action.’

The DOTr secretary began by emphasizing the need to create one synchronized government body that will manage the traffic system in Metro Manila instead of leaving it in the hands of separate entities namely, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the affected local government units (LGUs).

Tugade also stressed on the need to open roads of private subdivisions so that private motorists may have additional options aside to de-clog major thoroughfares.

Transport Undersecretary for Roads and Infrastructure Anneli Lontoc indicated that the emergency powers could give the LTO authority to acquire a plate-making machine so that license plates can be made in the Philippines in order to reduce backlog.

To improve the train system in the country Undersecretary for Rails and Toll Roads Noel Kintanar wants the emergency powers to override procurement rules to make it easier to acquire railway system parts for repair and maintenance.

For his part, MMDA’s Carlos indicated the need for at least 3,000 kilometers worth of road networks in Metro Manila to relieve traffic, particularly on EDSA.