By Ellson Quismorio
Speakership aspirant and Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate says the longstanding proposal to give “emergency powers” to President Rodrigo Duterte might just be a money-making ploy and not a true-blue solution to the perennial traffic problem.
“[It’s just a] ploy of some unscrupulous individuals to make profit,” Zarate said in a statement Thursday.
“President Duterte is not even asking for these ’emergency powers’ yet some individuals, including administration officials, have been pushing for it since 2016. Is there an ulterior motive behind this push other than to solve the traffic in the metro?” asked the Davao-based solon, who is the most senior member of the militant Makabayan Bloc this 18th Congress.
It can be recalled that even before Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2016, he described the country’s land traffic situation a “crisis,” which suggested the need for Congress to give him emergency powers.
But compared to other issues like the war on illegal drugs and the push for federalism, not much has been heard from the Chief Executive regarding emergency powers even as the past Congress worked on related legislation.
“If we are to look at the Traffic Crisis bill of the 17th Congress which will be the take off point of this proposed emergency powers then it would cause the wholesale displacement of transport workers, massive discretionary powers to the [Department of Transportation] chief, and possible all out privatization of the transport industry while at the same time not regulating the influx of private vehicles on the streets,” Zarate noted.
Zarate said that this kind of measure was previously associated with efforts to modernize the public utility jeepney (PUJ) sector, which according to him will displace thousands of small operators and drivers nationwide.
And it’s with the PUJ modernization that “business” will kick in, the third-term congressman said.
“Pilit nilang tinatanggal sa daan ang mga dyip dahil may mga suppliers nang nakahanda na magbenta ng ‘modern’ daw pero mahal na mga units, na kung di kakayahin ng mga apektadong small operators at drivers, ay ang mga negosyante at malalaking fleet operators na ang makinabang,” he said.
(They are forcing the removal of jeeps on the roads because of the suppliers who are ready to sell ”modern” but pricey units. And it’s the businessmen and big fleet operators who will reap the rewards if small operators and drivers can’t afford them.)
“This ’emergency power’ proposal should be studied with serious caution as it may just cause more problems for Filipino commuters,” concluded Zarate.