Alvarez: 'Uncooperative DOTr' delaying emergency powers on traffic

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address traffic will likely not be passed on 3rd and final reading before the House of Representatives takes a break for Christmas. 

Alvarez pinned the blame on the Department of Transportation (DOTr), which he said has failed to concretely map out its plans to address the perennial urban traffic problem. (READ: Tugade clarifies: Traffic problem a 'state of chaos, not a state of mind'

"'Yung emergency powers, medyo mahihirapan pa ng kaunti 'yun dahil nga hindi naman naging cooperative 'yung DOTr. Kailangan nating mailatag nila kung ano ang gagawin nila para alam naman ng Kongreso kung ano ang emergency powers ang puwedeng ibigay natin," Alvarez told dzMM on Wednesday, November 23. 

(We're going to have a little difficulty with the granting of emergency powers since the DOTr is uncooperative. They need to lay out their plans so Congress would know what kind of emergency powers we can grant.) 

"Kasi kung walang plano, paano iyan? Bigyan mo ng emergency powers ng dalawang taon iyan, tapos pagka natapos 'yung dalawang taon, sasabihin, 'Teka muna. I-extend natin dahil hindi pa kami tapos mag-isip kung ano ang gagawin namin,'" added the House Speaker. 

(Because what would happen if there are no plans? Give them emergency powers for two years and then after, they'll say, "Wait. Let's extend it because we're not yet done thinking of what we should do.")

Several bills seeking to grant emergency powers to Duterte have been filed at the Senate and the House, with the latest measure, House Bill (HB) Number 4344, co-authored by Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, and Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento, chairman of the committee on transportation. (READ: Duterte eyes emergency powers vs traffic 'crisis'

HB Number 4344 would be granting emergency powers for 3 years to DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade as "alter ego" of the President. The DOTr secretary, as traffic chief, "would have the power to formulate, coordinate, and monitor policies, standards, programs, and projects to rationalize existing public transportation operations, infrastructure requirements, the use of thoroughfares, and the promotion of safe and convenient movement of persons and goods."

Tugade would also control all agencies related to land traffic management in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.  

The DOTr secretary would also have the capability to install a single ticketing system, override or cancel contracts and licenses issued by agencies and local government units, and confiscate or suspend licenses, among others. 

Alvarez, former Department of Transportation and Communications chief under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had earlier called for the dismissal of 3 DOTr undersecretaries – Noel Kintanar for railway, Bobby Lim for air operations, and Raoul Creencia for legal affairs – for allegedly having conflicts of interest while serving in government.

The Speaker confronted the 3 DOTr officials face-to-face during the agency's budget deliberations last September 9.

On Wednesday, the DOTr announced that Kintanar had resigned, effective Tuesday, November 29. Kintanar is a former Ayala Corporation executive.

"Mr Kintanar said he would like to give Secretary Tugade a free hand in addressing any and all misconceptions or doubts as to the impartiality and independence of the DOTr in addressing the many issues and concerns on transportation," the department said.

The House committee on transportation is currently conducting consultations with various sectors for their comments on the proposed bills seeking to grant emergency powers on traffic to the President. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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