THE HOUSE of Representatives approved on third and final reading on Monday evening a measure designed to alleviate worsening traffic in three key urban centers in the country.
House Bill No. 6425, or the “Traffic Crisis Act of 2018. Makiisa. Makisama. Magkaisa,” proposed to develop within three years a comprehensive framework to address traffic congestion in Metropolitan Manila, Metropolitan Cebu and Davao City.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento of Catanduanes said the measure will harmonize overlapping traffic rules.
In a chat with reporters after the hearing, Mr. Sarmiento blamed varying traffic rules and regulations among municipalities as one of the key reasons for worsening traffic.
Dapat magkaroon tayo ng (We should have) unified traffic rules and regulations,” he said.
The bill is among the priority measures identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.
Its counterpart measure, Senate Bill No. 1284, or the “Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016” that covers only Metro Manila and Metro Cebu awaits second-reading approval.
HB 6425 designates the Secretary of the Department of Transportation as the Traffic Chief, who will wield “full power and authority… to streamline the management of traffic and transportation and to control road use in the identified metropolitan areas,” while he Senate version provides that a “Traffic Crisis Manager” be appointed by the President.
If enacted, HB 6425 will give Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade the “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 key 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…”
The measure will also suspend local governments’ power to issue franchises to public utility vehicle operators and will authorize the Traffic Chief to revoke or revise existing PUV franchises, “in accordance with Section 17, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution” governing “times of national emergency” as well as “take over or direct the operation of any PUV franchise…”
“The power of LGUs in the metropolitan areas to issue franchises to padyak, tricycles and all other PUV units as provided in the Local Government Code is hereby suspended during the effective period of this Act,” Section 17 of the bill read.
Moreover, Section 27 of the House version authorized the President, through the Traffic Chief, to enter into contracts for priority projects for the years that the proposed law will be in effect.
In comparison, Section 5 of the Senate bill provides: “The President is hereby granted Emergency Powers to urgently utilize all necessary government resources, exercise police power, including eminent domain and employ executive actions and measures to ensure effective implementation…” of the proposed law. — Charmaine A. Tadalan