By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will no longer insist on its request for emergency powers for President Duterte to address the country’s traffic crisis.
Senator Grace Poe confirmed this in a statement Wednesday, days after the Senate Committee on Public Services conducted its second technical working group (TWG) meeting on the proposed special emergency powers.
“We actually received a message from Secretary Tugade that he echoes that statement of the President that he will no longer seek for emergency powers,” DOTr Undersecretary for Road and Transport Infrastructure Mark Richmund de Leon was quoted saying during the TWG meeting with transport stakeholders Monday, September 23.
In a television interview last September 13, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said he will not beg for the emergency powers grant since the agency has already lost time to be able to implement the infrastructure projects they wanted expedited.
“Kung ayaw nila ibigay, huwag na, kasi paiksi nang paiksi ang oras (if they refuse to give us the emergency powers, then don’t, because we are already losing time),” Tugade had said.
“Sa kanila na lang po ‘yong emergency powers (I’ll leave the emergency powers to them), we have more important things to do than talk, talk and talk,” he added.
Poe and Tugade locked horns over the need for the grant of the special powers to the President.
The senator earlier slammed the DOTr for supposedly using the lack of emergency powers as an excuse for the delays in its projects.
Despite the DOTr giving up on the emergency powers, Poe said the public services panel will continue to conduct TWG meetings to come up with a transportation roadmap, and possibly, a law, to solve the traffic problem, especially in Mega Manila.
But she also maintained her position that specific plans should be in place before the passage of a law on traffic.
“These can be summed up as PPP—plano, pondo at pagsisiyasat (plans, fund, review),” Poe said.
“Kailangan ng kongkretong plano na may timeline at deadlines. Dapat may listahan ng mga proyekto at ng katumbas na pondo. At dapat bukas sa pagsisiyasat ng publiko (There should be concrete plans that have timelines and deadlines. There should be a list of the projects and their equivalent funding source. And these should be open to the scrutiny of the public)” she explained.
The public services committee head also stressed the need for thorough consultations with affected transport and commuter groups before coming up with the master plan.
Poe said she was looking forward to the inputs of the resource persons in crafting a bill that will fix the traffic mess in Mega Manila.
“Not everything is legislated. At times, you just need to bring people together. It might not be emergency powers, it can be just a traffic solution,” she said.
Aside from DOTr representatives, urban planners, transportation experts, commuter group leaders also attended the TWG meeting last Monday.
The groups representing commuters and motorists reportedly called for a better mass transportation as a way to ease the gridlock.
They also supposedly said the government’s master plan should also include lanes and parking spaces for bicycles, smart and well-made walkways, an intelligent transportation system; and more parking buildings to declog streets.
The third TWG meeting is set on October 2.