Año should be traffic czar, says lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines – The chairman of the House transportation committee said on Wednesday, September 25, that Interior Secretary Eduardo Año should agree to become the "traffic czar" under a proposed traffic management council since his agency can harmonize the different traffic policies of local governments.
Samar 1st District Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento made the statement in a media interview after the initial deliberation of House Resolution No. 353 which was approved at the committee level in just minutes that day.
The resolution, which Sarmiento had introduced, recommends the creation of a traffic crisis inter-agency management council that the congressman hoped would be headed by Año.
"I'm hoping that Secretary Año will accept the request that he becomes the traffic czar," Sarmiento said.
He explained that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has the power to harmonize the different traffic ordinances of local government units.
"Ang pinakamadali talagang ahensya ang humawak ay DILG. Kasi hawak nila ang local government units, parang sila dapat ang nagrerenda to harmonize the different policies," Sarmiento said.
(It would easiest for the DILG to head the council because it oversees the local government units. Thus, they should be the one to rein in and harmonize the different policies.)
Sarmiento said under the current setup, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) seeks the approval of the Metro Manila Council, which is composed of the 17 local chief executives, for policy implementation. He says Año has direct authority over the mayors and can plead to them, so they will follow his orders for fear of suspension.
Sarmiento cited the road clearing operations as an example of Año's authority. The DILG ordered local governments to reclaim public roads by removing illegal obstructions, with Año warning mayors of administrative complaints for failure to comply within 60 days.
Sarmiento said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade would be focused on the country's mass transportation systems, such as the bus dispatching system that the congressman had also proposed.
When asked, Sarmiento said it would be difficult for Año and Tugade to become co-traffic czars.
“In anything in life ‘pag dalawa kayong boss, mahirap. Kailangan isa (In anything in life, it's difficult if you have two bosses. There should only be one),” he said.
Sarmiento said he filed House Resolution 353 to empower the executive branch to address the traffic crisis.
A concern was raised regarding the existing Inter-agency Council for Traffic (i-ACT), the composition of which is very similar to the proposed unit. The only difference, according to Sarmiento, is that the DILG is not present in the i-ACT.
The existing council synchronizes the efforts of the multiple government agencies that address traffic by consolidating manpower, resources, equipment, and infrastructures.
MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia, for his part, said that the agency fully supports the resolution, so long as there would be no overlapping functions with their mandate. He added that a technical working group would be formed to discuss the specifics of the proposed council. – Rappler.com