Duterte needs emergency powers to solve traffic woes – Ejercito

Published September 20, 2018, 6:43 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said he believes that President Duterte should be granted emergency powers to solve the country’s traffic problem.

Senator JV Ejercito (Tony Pionilla / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Senator JV Ejercito (Tony Pionilla / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Ejercito on Thursday renewed his appeal for the passage of the measure that would give Duterte the authority to fast track transportation and infrastructure projects to address traffic congestion, particularly on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue or EDSA.

Apparently giving up on his promise to put EDSA in order, Duterte said on Wednesday that he would not bother solving the highway’s traffic woes anymore and let it “remain as it is” as he lamented the cold shoulder supposedly given to him by Congress over his appeal for emergency powers.

However, Ejercito said he is still pushing for emergency powers to be granted to the President for the purpose of addressing traffic woes, moreso now with the massive transport and infrastructure projects lined up under his administration.

“I don’t think we can afford [delays] any longer especially on the massive infrastructure projects, railways, airports,” he told reporters, following the budget deliberation of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr’s) proposed 2019 budget.

“If you ask me, I would still recommend that emergency powers be granted to the President to address the transportation crisis. We are already in a crisis situation because of the [current] transport system,” he said.

Without the emergency powers, Ejercito said the traffic gridlock along EDSA would get worse especially since more people are now buying their own cars.

On Duterte’s recent remarks, Ejercito recalled him saying that he would be “okay” whether or not Congress grants him the emergency powers.

It has been one year since the Senate last took up in the plenary Senate Bill 1284, which would give the President emergency powers to solve the traffic crisis. The measure still awaits approval on second reading.

Palace certification

Contrary to Duterte’s pronouncements, however, senators have repeatedly been asking the Palace to certify the measure as urgent so it could be prioritized and be approved as soon as possible.

In February, Sen. Grace Poe, sponsor of SB 1284, stressed the need to grant Duterte the extraordinary powers as she noted that “current laws do not adequately provide for the means to expeditiously and effectively solve this traffic and congestion crisis.”

“The bill should have passed already but is being hindered by extended debates. Though the President initially asked for emergency powers, he said later on that he does not need it,” Poe earlier said in a statement.

Ejercito, on Thursday, admitted that the measure has not been discussed by his colleagues again yet. But he said that they hope to pass it next year.