THE cat is out of the bag, so to speak. The secret game plan of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been revealed publicly by the House Speaker himself, Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
In a radio interview with broadcaster Ted Failon on November 16, 2016, Alvarez lamented the seemingly non-cooperative stance and inefficiencies of the top officials of the DOTr. He emphasized that the problem of granting the emergency powers to the President lies not with the House of Representatives but with theDOTr.
Alvarez said, “Gusto naman nating tulungan yung DOTr, lalo na si Secretary [Arthur] Tugade at gusto rin natin ipasa yung emergency powers na iyan, ngunit nakikita kong problema dito ay nasa kanila. Wala naman sa Kongreso ang problema …”
(We want to help DOTr, especially Secretary Tugade and we also want to pass the emergency powers [bill]. However, the problem is not with Congress, the problem is with them.)
He added, “Ang problema ganito. Tinanong sila [ok]ano na ba ang nagawa ninyo so far? Wala sila masabi. Ano naman ang plano nyo? Para naman magbigay tayo ng emergency powers alam natin kung ano ibibigay natin … wala din.”
(The problem is like this. They were asked, what have you done so far? Nothing. What are your plans? So that when we grant the emergency powers, we would know what we are giving. Again, nothing.)
Alvarez: Fire the DOTr undersecretaries
Alvarez bemoaned that the DOTr did not even consider fulfilling the President’s campaign promise of fixing the problems besetting the transport sector, particularly that of the issuance of card licenses and car plates. He said there was no need for emergency powers to solve these simple problems.
He said further, “maraming katanungan na dapat sagutin at ayusin sana ngunit wala tayo nakikita. Ang problema diyan marami silang tinatago sa Kongreso.”
(We have a lot of questions and a lot of things to fix but we did not see anything. The problem there is that they are hiding a lot from Congress.)
Asked if the problem lies with Secretary Arthur Tugade, the Speaker replied, “Palagay ko nasa mga Usec niya ang problema. Yung mga Usec hindi nga napagsasabihan, hindi naboboldyak. Dapat diyan tinanggal na yang mga iyan. Hindi nga nakakatulong … pampabigat iyan, eh di tanggalin mo, di ba?”
(I think the problem is with the undersecretaries. These undersecretaries are never scolded, never reprimanded. They should have been removed. They are of no value … they are liabilities, why not fire them, right?)
When pressed to name names, Alvarez was direct: “I have to be frank about it Ted, isa diyan si Kintanar. Isa diyan yung sa legal si Creencia. Oh yung isa diyan yung Bobby Lim sa air. Ano bang improvements ang nangyari doon? Wala.” (One is Kintanar. The other is with legal, Creencia. The other one is Bobby Lim of air. What improvements have they done there? Nothing.)
Alvarez was referring to Noel Eli Kintanar, Raoul Creencia, and Bobby Lim, all incumbent DOTr undersecretaries.
What is revealing and alarming are the following statements of Alvarez, “Alam mo lahat dini dribble ngayon. Inaantay yung emergency powers. … Dini dribble yan para pag nandyan na yung emergency powers mo to negotiate eh di fiesta na. …With all these people na nakata namin diyan na mga Usec na meron principal na meron interest dyan, sigurado ine-negotiate ang mga kontratang iyan, di ba?”
(You know, they “dribble” everything now. Waiting for the emergency powers … They are dribbling it so that when the emergency powers come, they can negotiate and it will be a feast … With all of these people planted there, who have their own principals, who in turn have their own interests, we are sure they will negotiate the contracts with them.)
As early as August, I already pointed out in this column the seeming conflict of interest of one of these undersecretaries I wrote that the appointment of Noel Eli Kintanar, as undersecretary for rails was a clear case of conflict of interest.
“Undersecretary Noel Kintanar used to be a part of the LRMC, not as an ordinary employee (contrary to his pronouncements), but as a key official. A check of the website of LRMC reveals a picture posted there showing the officials of LRMC, with Mr. Kintanar, as one of the key signatories for the corporation, during the signing of a multi-billion loan agreement with several banks.”
“Mr. Kintanar argued that there is no conflict of interest because he is not the one deciding these things. He claimed that he only advises the Secretary of Transport and it does not mean that the secretary cannot decide on his own.”
Does this mean that the buck stops with Secretary Tugade? That, Secretary Tugade decides on his own? If this is the case, then there is really no need for these undersecretaries.
In my previous article “Misinforming the President…and the Filipino people,” I wrote,“President Duterte himself admitted the problem in this manner, ‘The problem is I can only act through agencies and departments. … I act through secretaries and… I cannot guarantee their honesty and competence at all times’.”
There, the President cannot guarantee the honesty and competence of Secretary Arthur Tugade. Much more Tugade’s non-performing undersecretaries.
Time to fire these Undersecretaries.
No need for emergency powers
Alvarez ended the interview with, “maraming bagay na pwede naming gawin na walang emergency powers.”
It is very clear. Straight from the Speaker’s mouth–there are so many things that can be done without emergency powers. I share the same observation. In this same column (October 1, 2016 issue) I observed that,
“This administration does not need emergency powers to solve the traffic congestion. What it needs is an honest-to-goodness implementation of traffic laws and a lot of common sense.”
“Authorities who cannot force their authority should not stay in EDSA. Signs that are destined not to be followed should be removed–it makes a mockery of the authority. Orange barriers are there to create artificial traffic congestion and restrict the movement of the vehicles. Traffic laws are blatantly violated but no one is apprehending these drivers.
Applying the same principle–transport officials who are not doing anything in their jobs and who cannot do anything to solve the transportation problems should be removed. They are making a mockery of the President.