MANILA – Senator Grace Poe, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, on Monday said that she wants the law being crafted to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to solve the country’s transport woes finished before Christmas.
Poe said that this after Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade submitted last Friday (Sept. 2) a list of sectoral projects and a draft bill which the senate panel may consider in crafting the law granting emergency powers.
Poe earlier suspended the supposed third hearing on the proposed powers on Aug. 30, saying that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had yet to submit a list of projects which need the powers.
“I want to thank the DOTr because we have already received their proposed projects and proposed bill for emergency powers. It is quite long so we need to review it thoroughly,” Poe said in Filipino.
“My plan is that before Christmas, this will be approved here (in the Senate),” she added. However, she said that it does not mean that the DOTr can implement these powers immediately.
According to Poe, the 64-page list of projects prepared by the DOTr, contained proposals such as plans to suspend the powers of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to manage traffic in Metro Manila.
Instead, it indicated that there will be a single, synchronized authority headed by the DOTr to manage the traffic.
She said that the list also contained projects to enhance the country’s rail and airport systems. However, she said that the list only elaborated projects in Metro Manila and did not indicate if cities such as Cebu, Davao and other urbanized areas were also covered by these projects.
“I don’t want to criticize the list but there are many points here that need to be further explained and detailed. Upon skimming the list, I notice that only Metro Manila was given attention and not urbanized areas such as Cebu and Davao,” Poe said.
Poe said that the list indicated long-term projects, but expected to see more short-term projects included. It also sought for a three-year emergency power grant.
Although she said that almost all senators have seen the need to grant the President emergency powers, she maintained that the senate will make sure that there are safeguards and parameters in place to ensure proper implementation of emergency powers.
One of this, she said was to assure that emergency powers would be compliant to the Freedom of Information (FOI) executive order.
“In the Senate, we all agree that we need emergency powers as long as this will not be abused,” the incumbent senator said.
She said that the committee would next convene a technical working group (TWG) on Sept. 8 to also get suggestions of transport and commuter groups and other stakeholders.
The hearings on the proposed emergency powers will resume on Sept 22. She said that officials from local government units (LGUs) would also be invited to attend.