• Emergency powers will be limited – lawmaker


    The proposed emergency powers to be granted to President Rodrigo Duterte to enable him to address perennial traffic jams will not be nationwide in scope, Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, head of the transportation committee at the House of Representatives said.

    Sarmiento said his committee reached this conclusion after 10 hearings on the proposed emergency powers of the Chief Executive.

    Pursuant to Article VI, Section 23 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, the proposed emergency powers will enable the president “to effectively respond to the multiple problems caused by the worsening and debilitating land and air traffic crisis in the country.”

    “The TWG (Technical Working Group) will have an easier task [of consolidating the measures]because the committee has narrowed down the scope of the proposed law to certain metropolitan areas, i.e., Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao, and for the necessary projects to cover the land transport sector,” Sarmiento said in a statement.

    Ten bills were filed seeking to grant emergency powers to Duterte.

    “The bill [on emergency powers]will focus on the implementation of decongestion programs and ensure coordination of inter-agency offices and local government units,” Sarmiento added.

    The TWG is also ironing out funding concerns as well as the projected timeline for the implementation of programs and projects that will be included in the proposed traffic crisis law.

    The Duterte administration wants to tap the P10-billion Motor Vehicle Users’ Charge (MVUC) for the implementation of programs that may be set by virtue of the president’s emergency powers. This was included in the proposal of the Department of Transportation submitted to the House panel.

    Of the P10 billion MVUC, 7.5 percent or P801 million has been allotted to the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund under the proposed 2017 budget on top of the allocation for the Land Transportation Office.

    The Transportation department is also seeking to fund projects or programs in line with the President’s emergency powers by tapping 10 percent of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s annual aggregate gross earnings and the current fiscal year’s appropriation for agencies involved in the implementation of the proposed emergency powers.

    Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay pitched for the grant of emergency powers for three years with an accompanying P20 billion budget under his version of the Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016.

    Salceda’s proposal also authorizes special modes of procurement, installs safeguards through the Executive Order on Freedom of Information and a Congressional Oversight Committee, mandates the formulation of a Decongestion and Transportation Network Development Reform Plan for land-based transport, Rail and Toll Roads, air transport, and Seaports and designates the Transport department as crisis manager.

    According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Philippines loses P2.4 billion per day, equivalent to $51 million per day, in potential income as a result of lost productivity due to traffic congestion. LLANESCA T. PANTI



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