Tugade steadfast on emergency powers

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DoTr Sec. Arthur Tugade. (DoTr)

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Tuesday remained firm on its position on giving President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to solve the massive traffic woes in the metro.

Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade maintained that legislation of emergency powers will substantially and swiftly address the traffic mess in major metropolitan areas in the country during the Senate Committee on Public Services inquiry.

The Transport chief explained that if the emergency powers were granted in previous years, more projects, programs and policies would have been already implemented and stressed that despite its numerous completed and ongoing transport projects and programs, the agency could have done more had the emergency powers been granted earlier.

Tugade also clarified that the grant of emergency powers would only last for 1-2 years and that the oversight functions of the Congress would still remain.

The DoTr official highlighted ongoing projects and future plans that will help solve traffic congestion in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu during the hearing.

Senate Bill No. 213, or the Special Emergency Power Act, aims to give President Rodrigo Duterte full authorization to initiate measures to solve the country’s traffic problem and the proposed bill will also designate a traffic czar who will exercise all options given to the President.

As pointed out by transport officials, the grant of emergency powers would immediately allow for the adoption of policy directions that would normally require time-consuming amendment of existing laws and ordinances.

The grant would also fast-track procurement, Right-Of-Way Acquisition (ROWA), and relocation process; and allow for the immediate commencement of priority projects within a shorter period and/or the implementation of partial operability.

DoTr officials believe that granting emergency powers will further expedite ongoing projects and systems that are needed by the riding public as soon as possible given the worsening traffic situation.

Tugade also hopes that the emergency powers will enjoin other government agencies into a single unit to address the current traffic issues.

“We need to have a single traffic authority to address the monster problem that is EDSA. We need a traffic czar,” said Tugade.

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