House abandons plans to grant Rody emergency powers vs traffic

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    THE House of Representatives will no longer push for the passage of the measure seeking to grant President Duterte emergency powers to address the crippling traffic situation in Metro Manila and other major cities because the Chief Executive has already given up on it, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said yesterday.

    “Not anymore because the President said he doesn’t want it anymore or you cannot attack a crisis with emergency powers when you’re in the middle of it already,” he told ANC.

    Duterte earlier said that he would not beg for emergency powers from Congress to solve the traffic gridlock, pointing out that it was Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade who was pursuing it for him.

    The President has also asked transportation officials not to pursue anymore after a senator, obviously referring to Sen. Grace Poe who chairs the Senate committee on public services, expressed doubts on whether they could be trusted with more powers.

    While the House will no longer push for the measure, the House can still use its oversight powers to help expedite infrastructure projects that have always been delayed by right of way issues.

    “The economic team has brought me with them to Japan and China and to our other donors like Korea and they said one of the biggest problems in the Philippines is right of way,” Cayetano said.

    Cayetano took pot shots at Poe for demanding that the government present a master plan before Congress grants the President emergency powers.

    “It’s not true that the problem is that the emergency powers will have no boundaries,” the Speaker said.

    Poe has been pointing out that the Boracay rehabilitation was undertaken in only six months without emergency powers while the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi, which is under martial law, has been snail-paced.

    Cayetano said Poe wants the emergency powers to be as detailed as the appropriations bill without realizing that the administration has just taken over “and still has to assess everything.”

    “That’s why there’s a need for emergency powers. For example, right after Marawi, it was still so chaotic so if you’ll tell the President that before he declares martial law, (or in this case), before you resort to emergency powers (to address traffic), you’ll have to present first how many nails, how many bags of cements you’ll need. He (Duterte) can’t do that,” he said.

    Cayetano said the rehabilitation of Boracay is not a fair comparison because “it’s an island and tourism and what is being rehabilitated is the sea, nature, and sewage, not traffic.”

    “So if that’s what Sen. Grace wants, she’s saying that we should just close Edsa for six months and even if we do, what will you do? You’ll demolish all the buildings to widen the highway?” the Speaker said.

    Cayetano said the emergency powers “was supposed to make it simple to roll out foreign-assisted projects to build railways any roads that have right of way areas and even opening up some areas where the affluent in the society lives.”

    Poe said that while Congress can give all the powers that transportations officials want, without a master plan “they will just end up wasting money or, worse, still not being able to achieve anything.”

    She said there are measures that can be undertaken to improve the mass transport system and laws and policies to speed up government projects such as procurement and right-of-way and Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act which also gives the government alternative modes of procurement and limits the period to just three to six months.