Senate tackles bills on emergency powers

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THE Senate committee on public services will begin discussing proposals to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the traffic problem in Metro Manila and other urban areas Wednesday.

Senator Grace Poe, the chairperson of the committee, has invited officials from the Department of Transportation headed by Secretary Arthur Tugade and the heads of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to the hearing.

Poe said the committee will first listen to the briefing of the Transportation department on the traffic situation and the possible solutions they intend to put in place.

There are two bills and three resolutions that have been referred to Poe’s committee.


“I am ready to do my share as chairman of the Senate Public Services Committee to collaborate with the executive in order to fast-track the process and assure that the law we will come up with is what we really need to effectively address the traffic mess that has paralyzed our economy and our people. We will uphold the best interest of the public first and foremost,” Poe said in an interview.

She said she wants to know the government’s concrete plans to solve the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila, including appropriate modes of procurement and the safeguards that need to be instituted to promote transparency and eliminate opportunities for corruption.

The senator said that while she fully supports the government’s plan to immediately address the traffic problems, a well-defined scope of the President’s emergency powers must be put in place to ensure transparency, accountability and effectiveness.

Poe plans to hold committee hearings as frequent as possible to expedite the possible granting of emergency powers to the President.

Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto meanwhile said he expects transport officials who will attend the hearings to present doable solutions that will not require special powers.

“Not all solutions to the traffic crisis require cement. Many simply entail common sense and political will,” the senator said.

Recto said the traffic mess can be solved by strict implementation of traffic rules, clearing roads of obstructions and banning the use of roads as parking spaces.

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