Atienza warns lawmaker vs ‘emergency corruption’

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Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza strongly warned his colleagues in Congress against authorizing “emergency” shortcuts in the implementation of transportation projects, saying this may only lead to “emergency corruption.”

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Atienza said government does not need special powers to resolve the traffic mess which worsened because of corruption, incompetence, bad enforcement and poor compliance.

“Every day, we see obstructive road diggings everywhere left unattended by insensitive and inept district engineers who can’t seem to get the job done fast enough,” the former mayor of Manila said.

“In exchange for bribes, bus operators have illegally annexed our roads as their virtual terminals or waiting areas, adding to the jamming. Meanwhile, ‘colorum’ public utility vehicles continue to proliferate unchecked,” he added.

The lawmaker issued the statement following the filing of the proposed Transportation Crisis Act of 2016 which seeks to enable “the adoption of alternative methods of procurement for the construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of transportation projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion.”

“Crooked officials are bound to exploit these alternate purchasing schemes to make more money for themselves at taxpayers’ expense, in putting up roads, bridges, flood control structures, street lamps, sidewalks, and just about anything that has to do with transportation,” Atienza warned.

The substitute buying modes under the bill include “limited source bidding or selective bidding, direct contracting or single source procurement, repeat order, shopping, and negotiated procurement.”

“We will surely be swamped with ‘emergency’ transportation projects, including unnecessary and irrelevant projects, because that is where the biggest kickbacks will be, considering that all best practice standards will be cast aside,” Atienza said.

Without adequate intervention, the Philippines’ productivity losses from traffic congestion will likely hit P6 billion a day from today’s P2.4 billion, according to a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Atienza pressed for corruption-free transportation management, rigid vehicle control regulation and highly aggressive enforcement to help ease congestion.

He urged Malacañang to start planning for a rapid subway system around Metro Manila, designate competent executives to run the Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 and the Metro Rail Transit 3, compel the Department of Public Works and Highways to avoid new road diggings that cannot be completed right away and  order a relentless crackdown on operators of colorum buses and other vehicles.

“President (Rodrigo) Duterte was elected based on his reputation as a hard-charging enforcer. He could easily get all agencies, including local governments units, in line to improve traffic management,” Atienza said.

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