By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, assured yesterday that they will expedite the approval of measures seeking to grant President Duterte emergency powers to address the traffic crisis in the country.
He said his panel will not think twice in approving the proposed Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act, which was approved on third and final reading during the previous 17th Congress.
“The proposed measure will immediately hurdle the committee. Rule 10 Section 48 of the House of Representatives will be invoked to ensure its immediate passage. We will immediately forward this to the Senate,” he said in a radio interview yesterday.
He made the assurance after the Senate Committee on Public Service, chaired by Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, showed that it is not keen on giving in to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s renewed call for Congress to urgently grant President Duterte emergency powers to solve traffic congestion in the country.
Sarmiento explained Rule 10 Section 48 of the Lower Chamber provides that the measures that have been approved on third and final reading by the Lower Chamber in the previous Congress may be referred to the plenary upon the approval of the majority of the panel members.
“We will cite this House rule so there will be smooth sailing passage of the bill,” he said.
“In case of bills or resolutions that are identified as priority measures of the House, which were previously filed immediately preceding Congress and have already been approved on third reading, the same may be disposed of as matters already reported upon the approval of majority of the Members of the committee present, there being a quorum,” according to the House rule.
Sarmiento said the measure, which was approved by the chamber during the previous 17th Congress, will be refiled.
“The bill that will be refiled will the same version of the bill we approved during the 17th Congress,” he said.
In a budget briefing last September 5, Tugade asked the lawmakers to grant President Duterte emergency powers to ensure the expeditious implementation of the “basket of solutions” being proposed by the DOTr to address the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu earlier said the House leadership would seriously consider Tugade’s renewed request for Congress to grant emergency powers to President Duterte.
During the previous 17th Congress, the Lower Chamber approved on third and final reading House Bill 6425 or the proposed Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act, which seeks to address the traffic congestion hounding Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao City.
The bill designates the DOTr Secretary as de officio Traffic Chief who is empowered to streamline the management of traffic and transportation and control road use in the identified Metropolitan Areas.
Under the bill, the President through the DoTR secretary as traffic chief is allowed to enter into negotiated contracts for priority projects for the construction, repair, restoration, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of critical infrastructure projects, facilities and any directly related procurement of goods and service.
HB 6425 provides that the Traffic Chief shall have the power of supervision and control over the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority; Cebu Coordinating Council, as created under Section 9 of the proposed Act; Philippine National Police-Traffic Management Group; Land Transportation Office; Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board; Road Board; all other executive agencies, bureaus and offices with roles pertaining to land transportation regulation; and Davao Traffic Administrator.