MANILA, Philippines – Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade reiterated the gravity of traffic congestion in the country as he attended the first House hearing on granting emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address the problem.
“Ang transportation at traffic issue ho ay totoo at hindi lang state of the mind. Kung state of the mind lang po ito, kung estado ang pag-uusapan, tama ho ‘yun, chairman (The transportation and traffic issue is true and not just a state of mind. If we're talking about its state, it's also right, chairman). It is a state of chaos which has to be addressed," Tugade told the House transportation committee on Thursday, September 15.
The transportation secretary made the clarification after he was misquoted by a newspaper report as saying that the traffic problem should only be attributed to commuters' state of mind. (READ: Art Tugade and his inherited headaches)
During the House hearing on Thursday, Tugade cited a 2014 Japan International Cooperation Agency study that showed the Philippines is losing around P2.4 billion daily because of heavy traffic.
Tugade estimated the losses in 2016 to be up to P3 billion a day.
"Sinabi ko ho ngayon at sinabi ko nang paulit-ulit na nababoy na ho ang kabuhayan ng mga Pilipino dahil sa trapiko at transportasyon. Sobrang nababoy na sapagkat mas marami na ho ang panahon at oras na iginugugol ng isang mamamayan sa isang kalsada na dapat igugol sa kanyang pamilya, sa kanyang paghananap-buhay," Tugade said.
(I have repeatedly said that the lives of Filipinos have been violated by traffic and transportation. It has been violated because so much time is being spent by citizens on the road instead of spending it with their family and work.)
The Senate began conducting its own hearings on the President's request ahead of the House of Representatives.
Should the 17th Congress grant Duterte emergency powers, the government may open up private subdivisions to motorists to ease traffic in Metro Manila.
Tugade also suggested moving some government offices and factories in Metro Manila to nearby provinces, even volunteering his own office.
"I am seriously considering transferring the Department of Transportation, dadalhin ko sa Clark para mabawasan ang tao [sa Metro Manila]… I am seriously considering changing the working time, subject to the approval of law, na 7 am to 4 pm para iyong hamon ng rush moment hindi na kami nakikisawsaw," he explained.
(I am seriously considering transferring the Department of Transportation to Clark to lessen the number of people in Metro Manila... I am seriously considering changing the working time, subject to the approval of law, from 7 am to 4 pm so that we won't have to join the rush hour.)
"May mga factory tayo dito na baka puwede bigyan ng i-incentive, bigyan mo ng benefits para sa labas na lang sila ng Metro Manila (We also have factories here that we could possibly give benefits and incentives to so that they'll move outside Metro Manila)," Tugade added.
Several congressmen led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez have co-authored House Bill Number 3 or the Traffic Crisis Act of 2016.
If passed into law, the bill would grant emergency powers to Duterte to address traffic for two years. – Rappler.com