By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Four Senate committees have recommended the approval of a bill seeking to grant local government units (LGUs) the authority over the transportation systems in their respective areas to address the traffic crisis.
Local government committee chairman Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino on Wednesday sponsored Senate Bill No. 1211, which proposes to allow LGUs to build “safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable” public transportation systems, like railways, subways, cable cars and bus rapid transits, through loans, grants, partnerships and joint ventures with local and foreign companies.
This was contained in Committee Report No. 25 consolidating two Senate bills filed by Tolentino and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who sought to fast-track transport infrastructure projects in LGUs to ease the traffic problem.
The report, submitted jointly by the committees on Local Government, Public Services, Public Works, Ways and Means, and Finance last November 27, was signed by 17 senators.
“We must turbo-charge LGUs to solve the problems within their own jurisdiction,” Tolentino said in his sponsorship speech Wednesday.
“LGUs do not only possess a mastery of their own mobility demands, but also institutional memory of local policies addressing local transport problems as well as local transport needs,” he added.
“No other government body is more empowered and equipped to tackle the traffic crisis than the LGU, which is endowed with all of the powers under the Local Government Code,” Tolentino stressed.
The proposed “LGU Transportation Act” would amend the Local Government Code of 1991 to allow LGUs to build modern and state-of-the-art mass transport system within their jurisdiction, provided that they should maintain interconnectivity and integration with existing and proposed transport systems of the national government and other LGUs.
LGU shall coordinate with other local government units and national transportation and planning agencies in coming up with their own transportation systems.
They should also be able to find resources to operate and maintain the local transport systems.