Poe compares Tugade to Dominguez: 'Bihira ka magpakita dito'
Has the Department of Transportation (DOTr) done enough to lobby for its "much-needed" emergency powers?
To Senator Grace Poe's mind, it hasn't.
On Tuesday, September 10, the Senate committee on public services hearing focused more on the emergency powers being requested by the Duterte administration from Congress to solve the metro's traffic, than its intended agenda – the botched provincial bus ban.
Tugade said at the hearing that the DOTr could have done more about the traffic problem if the 17th Congress had only granted emergency powers to the President.
"Kung nabigyan lang sana ng emergency power noon, dapat ngayon nirerepaso na ang nagagawa kung napagbigyan, (If we were granted emergency powers before, then we would have been able to finish what we need to do)," Tugade said.
In the 17th Congress, several senators authored Senate Bill No. 1284 or the traffic and congestion crisis bill. It languished in the upper chamber and never went past second reading.
Poe said it would have made a lot of difference if Tugade had been actively lobbying for emergency powers. She then compared him to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and officials of the Department of Finance who had lobbied hard for the passage of the Tax Reform Accelation and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
"Si Secretary Dominguez nandito palagi para kausapin kami sa TRAIN [law]. Eh kayo nga po bihira kayo bumisita rito sa amin para sabihin na kailangan talaga namin 'to (emergency powers). So minsan naiisip namin na ito na lang ang ginagawang kadahilanan dahil walang masolusyunan [na problema sa trapiko]," Poe said.
(Secretary Dominguez was always here to talk to us about TRAIN law. But you are seldom here to tell us that you really need emergency powers. So sometimes, we think that you're only using it as an excuse for your unsolved problems.)
In response, Tugade said: "Wala kaming sinasabi na wala kaming nagawa noon kasi walang emergency powers. Ang sinasabi namin na marami sana kaming nagawa kung mayroon emergency powers."
(We're not saying that we didn't do anything before because there were no emergency powers. What we're saying is that we could've done more with emergency powers.)
In an interview with reporters, Poe said she was offended by the way Tugade blamed the 17th Congress for the traffic mess when all the DOTr had to do was to "find a way" to solve the problem.
Poe said she had sponsored the measure at the Senate in the 17th Congress and yet the DOTr had not done its part. (READ: Panelo suggests choppers for emergency patients in traffic-logged cities)
"Ang nakakasakit...at nakakadismaya, [ang masabihan na,] 'Kung gusto, may paraan. Kung ayaw, may dahilan.' Eh sila nga ang may kapangyarihan na gawin 'yun eh. Bakit ako? Matagal na rin ako nagtimpi tungkol diyan pero kulang din talaga ang ginawa nila," Poe said.
(What is offensive and dismaying is to be told, 'If there's a will, there's a way. If you don't want it, there are excuses.' But they are the ones who have the power to implement projects. Why me? I have been silent about this but they are not doing enough too.)
Tugade had earned Poe's ire when he failed to attend the previous hearings. The senator said on Tuesday that she didn't want to issue a subpoena for Tugade to face her committee out of courtesy, and she rarely asked him to attend the hearings.
Based on the discussions at the hearing on Tuesday, Poe said senators remained unconvinced about the need for emergency powers to solve the traffic problem. She noted that until now, it's apparent that the DOTr needs technical experts more than emergency powers for the President.
So far, Poe said, all transportation officials had given the Senate is a "dream plan" but not the more important traffic master plan that would justify the grant of emergency powers.
"Ang NEDA hanggang sa ngayon ay bumubuo pa rin ng traffic plan. Paano ka makapagbibigay ng kapangyarihan sa isang bagay na hindi pa nililikha? (NEDA is still coming up with a traffic plan. How do you give power to something that has yet to be created)?" she said. – Rappler.com
Inside Track is Rappler's intelligencer on people, events, places and everything of public interest. It's a take-off from Newsbreak's Inside Track section. Contributions are most welcome. Just send bits of information to email@example.com.