In line with President Duterte’s request for emergency powers to solve the metro’s worsening traffic problem, former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando have jointly initiated the passage HB 554, or the “Metro Manila Traffic Crisis Act of 2016.”

The house bill, entitled “An Act prescribing related measures necessary and proper to effectively address the traffic crisis in Metro Manila and for other purposes,” has been referred to the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.

In it, the act allows the President to “enter into negotiated contracts for the construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of critical infrastructure projects and facilities.”

Transparency has been taken into account as the contracts need to list the projects to be undertaken, their budgetary estimates, and other details, “thirty (30) days after the effectivity of this Act.” Once a contractor has been awarded, the terms and conditions, name and qualifications of the contractor and other details will be “published in a newspaper of general circulation two (2) weeks before the signing of the contract.”

Finally, “All the awarded projects shall be subject to existing government auditing rules and regulations governing negotiated contract.”

HB 554 also allows the President to “reorganize the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA),” as well as “upgrade the compensation of the personnel of the MMDA who are involved in traffic reduction” all pending approval by the Congress of the MMDA’s budget for 2017.

The proposed Act mandates the President to submit a quarterly report to Congress on the implementation of the Act

As a final form of checks and balances, the bill also mandates the creation of an “Oversight Committee in each House of Congress to be composed of five (5) members of each, as may be designated by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to monitor the implementation of the Act.” The Oversight Committees shall submit periodic reports, evaluations and recommendations to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

To subsidize these measures, the bill has proposed that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) “set aside ten (10%) percent of its annual aggregate gross earnings for the next five (5) years as subsidy to the MMDA. Provided, That such percentage allocation shall be based on gross revenue after deducting the five percentum (5%) franchise tax and the fifty percentum (50%) income share of the National Government.”

The act shall be in effect for two years from the date of its effectivity “unless sooner withdrawn by a resolution of Congress.”

The report from the House of Representatives noted that the bill is hoped to speed up growth by hastening infrastructure development in order to attain “an annual growth rate of at least seven (7) percent” as envisioned by the Duterte administration.