‘Traffic emergency powers measure may stall in Senate’

Published December 5, 2018, 5:52 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

While the proposed emergency powers against the country’s traffic woes succeeded in the House of Representatives, senators appear cold on passing a similar measure amid concerns that the move will trigger massive corruption and bury the country deeper in debts.

Senator Grace Poe said that the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Duterte to solve the country’s traffic crisis may not see the light of day in Senate anytime soon.

Senator Grace Poe (Senate of the Philippines official Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Grace Poe
(Senate of the Philippines official Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, Poe sponsored Senate Bill 1284, or the proposed Traffic and Congestion Act of 2016, which seeks to address transportation and congestion problems in the country by granting the President special emergency powers.

But the measure has been languishing in the Upper Chamber for two years, and is still awaiting approval on second reading.

Poe, who had earlier insisted on passing the bill, had resigned to President Duterte’s decision that he does not need the emergency powers to solve the traffic woes.

The senator recalled discussing with Duterte his promise to address the worsening traffic situation in the country’s urban areas, particularly in Metro Manila.

“Initially the President said he wanted that, but I had a talk with him, [it was] personal. ‘Mr. President, do you need this, you think it will help solve traffic?’ He said, ‘I don’t really care, we can do that without even the emergency powers.’ He said that and I think it’s clear because otherwise his allies would have approved it in the Senate,” Poe said in an interview over ANC Tuesday.

Aside from the President, Poe also considered the sentiments of her fellow senators, who, during their debates on SB 1284, raised red flags about granting any official a vast authority over transport and traffic matters.