THE HOUSE of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading a measure designed to address worsening traffic in three key metropolitan areas in the next three years.
House Bill No. 6425, or the proposed “Traffic Crisis Act of 2017. Makiisa. Makisama. Magkaisa,” provides a framework to ease traffic in Metropolitan Manila, Metropolitan Cebu and Davao City.
The bill designates the secretary of the Department of Transportation as Traffic Chief for the duration of the law, “with full power and authority… to streamline the management of traffic and transportation and to control road use in the identified metropolitan areas.”
While the law is in force, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade will have “power of supervision and control” over the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Metropolitan Cebu Traffic Coordinating Council and the Davao Traffic Administrator to be formed by the law, the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group, the Land Transportation Office, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, the Road Board and “all other executive agencies, bureaus and offices with functions related to land transportation regulation.”
He will also “supervise all LGUs (local government units) within the metropolitan areas with respect to enforcement of rules, policies and programs enacted pursuant to this Act and for harmonization and enforcement of all traffic rules and regulations… and establish and implement… a comprehensive and unified road use plan and a unified traffic management system to be followed by all component LGUs…”
Section 17 suspends the authority of LGUs in the covered metropolitan centers “during the effective period of this Act… to issue franchises to padyak tricycles and all other PUV (public utility vehicle) units…”
The Transport Chief can also revoke or modify PUV franchises and — “in accordance with Section 17, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution” governing “times of national emergency” — “may take over or direct the operation of any PUV franchise …”
The same proposed law authorizes President Rodrigo R. Duterte to “abolish or create offices; split, group or merge offices; transfer functions, equipment, properties, records and personnel in accordance with existing law…”
The Transport chief is also authorized, for the duration of the law, “to enter into negotiated contracts for priority projects for the construction, repair, restoration, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of critical infrastructure, projects and facilities and any directly related procurement of goods and services …”
It also forms a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee which will hold bi-monthly meetings and to which the Transport Chief will submit monthly reports on steps taken under the law as well as a list of priority projects.
The law also forms a special traffic crisis court in each covered metropolitan center “to hear and expeditiously resolve all actions that may emanate from the implementation of this Act…”
Sought for comment, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman George T. Barcelon said in a telephone interview: “This traffic thing is both discipline and, at the same time, we need to have the proper bus stop and pickup points.”
“The solution here is for the government to also have more of the infrastructure… but I think this is a measure that is needed.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan