Senators not keen on emergency powers

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FIRST MEDIA MEET Senator-elect Sherwin Gatchalian talks about his plans during a meeting with Senate reporters on Tuesday. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

FIRST MEDIA MEET Senator-elect Sherwin Gatchalian talks about his plans during a meeting with Senate reporters on Tuesday. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

SOME senators are not too enthusiastic about a proposal to grant incoming President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to solve the traffic crisis in Metro Manila because they believe that it only takes political will to address the problem.

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Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd on Tuesday said there is a need for Congress to know what powers are involved in the proposal, noting that the word “emergency” has many connotations.

“Right now, simple political will can resolve most problems in traffic,” Sotto said in a text message.

Senator-elect Sherwin Gatchalian agreed, noting that emergency powers give the executive department very broad powers, including those involving biddings and contracting and it is for these reasons that there is a need to find out first the strategy of the next government in addressing traffic congestion.

“We should not rely on mere band-aid solution. We have to know why they need emergency powers and what they plan to do with [them],” Gatchalian told reporters in his first news conference after winning in the May 9 senatorial race.

Although he said is not totally against granting emergency powers to Duterte, he maintained that he would rather see the government address the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila without additional powers.

Another incoming senator, Joel Villanueva, said other options should be considered like asking local and national leaders to help find solutions to vehicle congestion in Metro Manila.

Villanueva added that the government can convene a working group to look into the proposed extension of powers and what can be done through concerted efforts of different leaders at the national and local levels.

Incoming Senator Leila de Lima viewed the use of emergency powers to solve the country’s problems worrisome.

While she is willing to support measures that will ease traffic congestion through the expansion of mass transit systems and the reduction of vehicular volume on major thoroughfares, she believes that it will be better if these are achieved without the use of emergency powers.

“We cannot always do that without eventually emasculating the legislative branch. That is why emergency powers are only reserved for emergency situations. Congress cannot always be expected to give up its powers at the slightest justification for the need of emergency powers,” she pointed out

Incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier said the Duterte administration will ask Congress to grant the incoming leader emergency powers to solve Metro Manila’s traffic mess.

A solutions eyed by the next administration is possibly opening some residential subdivisions to traffic.

“Opening up villages will not help. It will merely create additional traffic areas. They should first implement a complete ‘no parking’ in the entire Metro Manila. The villages are filled with parked cars also, so what’s the point?” Sotto said.

Sen. Grace Poe expressed support to the proposal but she cited the need for the next government to explain the terms of the emergency powers the Duterte administration may have in mind.

“Congress will have to review the terms and set the necessary parameters or safeguards. It is in the great interest of the public that we join hands across political affiliations to lick this traffic woes once and for all,” said Poe, who will head the Senate public services committee.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, the next Senate president, supports the proposal to give Duterte emergency powers.

Outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon is also open to the idea but, like most senators, he also would like to see the specific powers to be granted.

Overkill
At the House of Representatives, lawmakers warned that Duterte should not get high on the scent of emergency powers by scrapping biddings.

“That’s an overkill. One doesn’t need emergency powers to handle traffic problems in Metro Manila. Just fast-track the projects already in the pipeline under or being built by the Aquino administration,” Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said.

“Emergency powers cannot be trifled with. [They] should be sought with caution, lest [they become]addictive,” Baguilat added.

Even Duterte’s allies in the 17th Congress, Representatives Luz Ilagan of Gabriela and Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption, also expressed reservations.

Ilagan noted that drastic solutions should not compromise good governance.

“Thinking out of the box, taking radical steps might be necessary. But doing away with the bidding[s]should be studied carefully. It might open the gates of corruption,” she pointed out.

“The worsening traffic situation is already a national catastrophe. With a P2.4 billion loss per day, it is a national crisis that requires the exercise of police powers of the state, including doing away with bidding[s]. But I believe the Duterte administration will be better equipped if it seeks the support of Congress by having an enabling law to support the measures to solve traffic,” Tugna said.

But for reelected Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, the grant of emergency powers to scrap biddings is justifiable since the bidding process takes too long.

WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI

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11 Comments

  1. If the incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade would not be able to solve Metro Manila’s traffic mess without requesting or invoking emergency powers for the Duterte administration, then he should just withdraw from his appointment so that someone more competent and capable can replace him. Tugade has not even been officially apprised of the situation in his future agency or department, and already, he wants to act like a dictator or martial law enforcer to solve to what he perceives is the traffic problem. Once he is officially sworn in, he should first find out what projects are outstanding, review these projects, and if he does not agree, he should come up with his own plans. But it is imperative that he should first inform the people what his plans are before talking about emergency powers. He is making a mistake by underestimating the intelligence of Pinoys. “Traffic mess lang, emergency powers agad?” Duterte did not mention anything of the sort when he ran for the presidency. “Niloko ang mga tao?” First steps toward martial law? Is it going to be “more fun in the Philippines” under strong man Duterte? As they say: “Abangan”!

  2. “It might open the gates of corruption,”!!!???? are you farking high? where have you been? its been open eversince

  3. bakit naman nya kailangan ng emergency powers ? di b magaling sya d b 6 months lng e lutas na ang kriminalidad sa bansang ito….pati traffic at mga problema ng Pinas…saan na yung pinag yayabang nya na 6 months 6 months…hehehe

    wala naman syang binangit na kailangan nya ng emergency power noon tumatakbo sya

  4. Mayor Digong, ito ang mga taong susuporta kay Kiko Pimentel..gagawin syang inutil na presidente ng senado. Kaya si Alan ang dapat nyo pong kakampi sa senado. Mas mabuti pang maging minority si Alan sa senado kesa makakasama ang mag OBSTRUCTIONISTS sa senado na mayorya… tanginanila!

  5. What “political will” are these senators talking about? Don’t they realize that skyway project connecting south and north expressways are ow delayed becauseof so many legal issues? Based on the latest info, completion is now delay by one year – to 2019 and this means people will have to SACRIFICE ONE YEAR MORE.

    Why not these senators ride a bus during peak hours and let them comment again?

  6. Ariel Dee Magalang on

    Emergency powers not necessary to be granted it would open for corruption just implement all local government ordinances like no parking on side walks, no vendor it helps ease the traffic..

  7. Simple solution: fast track projects, better public transport, limit vehicles entering metro manila. Ie. Return odd even scheme, buses cannot enter metro manila – bus terminals must be outside the metro, junk old and delapidated pujs, srrict implementation of anti smoke belching, strict implementation if traffic rules,etc no need for emergency powers. This is just mind conditioning for more “emergency” powers = abuse.

  8. Then provide him the so called “power” to at least veto or go against the local ordinances of LGUs, Mayors in the metropolis to implement and or remove illegal structures along the roads, illegal parking, apprehension of colorums, no parking, no vehicles, limit the no. of owned vehicles for families, remove “boundary system”, no illegal vendors, remove oversupply of buses & jeepneys, reorganize the franchise route, professionalize the jeepney operation, and of course revisit the multiple TROs issued, etc.

  9. with the kind of senate we have, solving the the country’s problem will be hard for Pres Duterte. the senate is a house of obstructionists. talking of political will, it is only Pres. Duterte who has that character. members of the senate and congress do not have political will because they are afraid to lost the votes of the voters.

    SOTTO, GATCHALIAN, LACSON, deLILAH DELIMMA – WE CHALLENGE YOU TO GIVE PRES. DUTERTE THE EMERGENCY POWERS TO SOLVE THE COUNTRY’S PROBLEM AND DO NOT BE AN OBSTRUCTIONIST. RISE BEYOND POLITICS!
    ,
    if Pres. Duterte will fail in his quest of solving the country’s problem, IT IS BECAUSE OF YOU!

  10. Emergency powers if ever be granted to Pres du30 must not only due to monstrous traffic jams. But such powers must be designed to combat criminality such as KFR,drug trafficking and everything involving illegal drugs and substances,riding in tandem,graft and corruptions in government offices and personnel,quick ruling by judges on cases filed in their courts, and most of all to enforce disciplines to all persons leaving in the country whatever nationality.