• ‘Duterte won’t abuse emergency powers’

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    MALACAÑANG on Thursday assured the public that the emergency powers President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking from Congress to solve the traffic crisis will not be abused.

    Speaking to reporters, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said there was nothing to fear in vesting emergency powers on the President, saying these would not be “absolute.”

    “The emergency powers being requested are not absolute and limited only to traffic,” Abella said in a news conference.

    He pointed out that citizens will have full information on the use of emergency powers under an order mandating Freedom of Information in the Executive branch that Duterte had signed.

    Abella’s statement came a day after a Senate committee tackled several measures granting Duterte emergency powers.

    During the hearing, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, along with heads of offices under the Department of Transportation, briefed lawmakers on the transportation situation in Metro Manila, as well as proposed solutions.

    According to Tugade, traffic problems have reached crisis proportions not only in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the country, but also in the aviation sector, thus the need for drastic action.

    Tugade suggested that Duterte’s emergency powers be in effect for two to three years, stressing that even with such wide but temporary clout, the decades-old traffic problem would not be wiped out.

    “But the people will feel change,” Tugade said.

    Senator Grace Poe, who led the committee hearing, also allayed fears on the proposed emergency powers, saying Congress will be able to withdraw such powers if necessary.

    “If they (Executive) need those emergency powers to be able to acquire right of way, properties, or to be able to facilitate faster relations with the local government units, why not?” Poe said on Thursday.

    She however still sees the need for Congress to establish an oversight committee, which
    will be composed of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

    “The panel will make sure that all the deliverables are complied with,” said Poe in a television interview.

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