As traffic congestion starts to affect even non-working days of Saturday and Sunday, more and more Filipinos feel the ‘crisis’ pointed out by the new administration and at least one chamber of Congress has started working on President Duterte’s suggestion.
The Senate has now made moves to release emergency powers to the country’s most powerful man in order to solve the worsening traffic problem after Senate Minority Leader Senator Ralph Recto filed Senate Resolution No. 28, which directs the proper committee to conduct an inquiry on the suitability of granting emergency powers to the President to make swift decisions to fix vehicular congestion in the country.
This follows Senate Bill No. 11 or the Transportation Crisis Act of 2016 filed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, which also seeks to grand President Duterte emergency powers to deal with the transportation problem.
Despite their willingness to the President’s proposal, both senators are cautioned that Congress must ensure that these powers come with safeguards to prevent corruption and abuse.
“There must be safeguards to protect the public interest,” Recto said.
”It is also of the highest importance that the bill will provide safeguards that can adequately protect the system and the people from abuses. We must make sure that these powers will not be misemployed and exploit our people, rather than help them,” said Drilon.
With regards to these emergency powers granting the President the ability to enter into negotiated contracts with the goal of fixing traffic, Recto wants deals to be transparent and compliant the with Freedom of Information Executive Order.
“Projects must comply with the standards of accountability and transparency, consumer rights, affordability, public access, safety, and security,” Recto said.
Aside from Drilon and Recto, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito also filed Senate Bill No. 154 seeking to give President Duterte emergency powers versus the traffic while Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson also support the move.
“The traffic and transport situation in Metro Manila has reached crisis proportions, requiring drastic solutions,” Ejercito said.
Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, will be in charge of the public hearings on the proposal to grant President Duterte emergency powers.
“The best course of action is to set the bill for public hearing as soon as possible so we can engaged the Department of Transportation and all other stakeholders and experts to determine its necessary and if so, the best terms under which such powers will have to be carried out to achieve its powers,” Poe said.