After initially suspending hearings on President Duterte’s emergency powers, Senator Grace Poe, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, will reconvene on September 22 after receiving critical documents from the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
A 64-page list of project was submitted by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade that outlines the pressing transport issues that will be addressed the emergency powers that will be granted to President Duterte.
The road sector includes the Php 4.7 billion Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 1 that will run through a 12.3-km route from Manila to Quezon City with a timeline of 2016-19, pushed earlier than the previous completion date of 2021 or later without emergency powers.
This is followed by the Php 39.44-billion Metro Bus Rapid Transit Line 2 traversing a 48.6-kilometer (km) route that covers EDSA, Ayala, Ortigas-BGC to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with a timeline of two years (2016-18), which is improved by from its previous target date of 2020 without the emergency powers.
Also of note are projects to improve existing national roads worth Php 1.59 billion.
Aside from projects, the DOTr will also ‘rationalize public transport system in the metropolis, map out secondary routes, unify franchising policy, and prohibit bus terminals along major roads.’
The emergency powers also seek to modernize public utility vehicles including adding parking spaces, emission testing centers, among others.
Senator Poe expressed concern regarding the lack of focus on the development of highly urbanized areas such as Cebu and Davao.
“I don’t want to criticize the list but there are many points here that need to be further explained and detailed. Upon skimming the list, I notice that only Metro Manila was given attention and not urbanized areas such as Cebu and Davao,” said Poe.
Poe has indicated that most senators have seen the need to grant President Duterte emergency power to combat the current traffic situation.
“In the Senate, we all agree that we need emergency powers as long as this will not be abused,” added Poe.