A MEASURE that will give President Rodrigo R. Duterte “emergency powers” to address worsening traffic and congestion in key cities for up to two years has been filed anew in the Senate.
Senator Francis N. Tolentino — a former chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority — has filed Senate Bill No. 213, or the proposed “Special Emergency Powers Act,” to authorize Mr. Duterte, through a traffic crisis czar, to declare “a national emergency” amid worsening traffic and congestion in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro among other highly urbanized cities.
‘A NATIONAL EMERGENCY’
“The traffic congestion crisis must be considered a national emergency due to its detrimental effects on life, economy and productivity,” Mr. Tolentino said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Mr. Tolentino consulted Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade on the matter on Wednesday.
“Na-file na natin. ‘Yung dating bill, sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa kagalang galang na secretary, nalagyan natin ng ibang detalye na wala dati (We have filed the bill. Upon consultation with the honorable secretary, we have added details that were not in the previous measure),” Mr. Tolentino told reporters following his meeting with Mr. Tugade.
Mr. Tolentino said that the new provisions he introduced in his version included a push for alternative work arrangements like flexible work hours even in government offices in hopes of reducing the need to use streets at peak hours.
The proposed law is among the 28 legislative priorities pitched by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council to the 17th Congress that ended last month. The House of Representatives was able to pass its proposed “Traffic Crisis Act of 2017. Makiisa. Makisama. Magkaisa.” on third reading, while its counterpart in the Senate failed to get second- and third-reading approval by the June 3 adjournment.
If enacted, the bill will designate the Transportation secretary as traffic crisis czar for up to two years. Among others, he will be authorized to engage in direct contracting, repeat order and other alternative modes of procurement for priority projects during that period.
Moreover, the government will have authority to take over the operation of public utility vehicles — even as franchises will remain with owners — and open private roads for public use while the law is in force.
Local governments, for their part, may implement, construct, repair, restore, rehabilitate, improve or maintain land-based transportation infrastructure projects approved by the traffic czar under this law. — Charmaine A. Tadalan