DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The traffic mess in Metro Manila has become a crisis that calls for bold solutions, according to the incoming administration.
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will seek emergency powers from Congress to solve the traffic woes in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in a sweeping move that may affect private subdivisions, markets and terminals along major roads.
Incoming transportation secretary Arthur Tugade said yesterday he believes the country’s “traffic crisis” can be solved if the incoming president has extraordinary powers that will allow him to implement bold solutions.
“The crisis will have to be declared by Congress. That’s the law. Hopefully, Congress will help us so that the proposal can be implemented,” Tugade told reporters here.
He said the quality of life has deteriorated and people are suffering as they spend so much time on the road.
“Nabababoy na ang kabuhayan natin… kung di ito crisis, ano ang crisis (Our livelihood is being destroyed and if that’s not a crisis, what is)?” he asked.
Tugade said the emergency powers would last for a maximum of two years. The extent of the powers will depend on the measure to be passed by Congress but Tugade said the next government may be allowed to open private subdivisions to traffic.
“Will it be confiscatory? No. Will it be unreasonable? No, because when subdivisions are affected, you have to compensate for the road maintenance and security. If you get properties to address traffic congestion, you won’t confiscate it. There will be compensation,” he said.
“It will not be exercised capriciously and arbitrarily. It will have to be exercised in the interest of the majority and the interest of common good. We will not open all subdivisions,” he added.
Tugade claimed that the traffic problem remains unresolved because of restraining orders, injunctions, right of way issues, local government regulations and even social issues.
He admitted that the implementation of the emergency powers would not be easy.
“We all have to feel the pinch. All of us have to sacrifice,” the incoming transportation chief said.
“We have been beset by lack of discipline. We have to raise the level of discipline and to do that, personal sacrifice is needed,” he said.
Tugade said the emergency powers would also provide the government the option to skirt biddings to solve traffic and other transportation problems like the non-delivery of vehicle plates. He did not elaborate, saying details would be threshed out in Congress.
Tugade said legal moves by losing bidders have delayed the implementation of important projects.
He allayed concerns that the emergency powers, particularly the possible skirting of procurement processes, could lead to abuses.
“Congress has oversight powers and we have the Supreme Court for those who believe they were aggrieved,” he said.
Tugade said the incoming administration would also remove terminals and markets located along major roads. Parking along major roads would also be prohibited. Ambulant vendors who are causing congestion would also be relocated in line with Duterte’s directive to ensure that their livelihood remains intact.
Tugade said members of Duterte’s legal team are now preparing a draft proposal for the emergency powers. He said Davao del Norte representative-elect Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s choice for House speaker, is receptive to the idea.
Tugade said the giving of emergency powers to the president is not new, as the Ramos administration was given a similar authority to address water and power problems.
Willing to help
Meanwhile, outgoing Land Transportation Office (LTO) director Roberto Cabrera said in a recent interview that he is willing to help his successor resolve the issues hounding the agency like the problems on car plates and driver’s license cards.
“I told Gen. (Edgar) Galvante that if he needs me, I will assist him in trying to resolve these problems,” Cabrera said, referring to the incoming LTO chief. “I would be here to help you even if it would take the entire six years just to make sure that the performance of the LTO would be good.”
He said there are a lot of files that he needs to submit to Galvante before he leaves his post on June 30.
An official of the Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), on the other hand, wants to criminalize the operation of unregistered vehicles.
LTFRB member Ariel Inton yesterday said economic sabotage happens during the operation of colorum vehicles as they compete with legitimate franchise holders.
He said he would urge Congress anew to pass the pending bill seeking to make colorum operation a criminal offense under the new administration.
Inton said under the joint administrative order of the LTFRB and the LTO, it is only the agencies that are allowed to apprehend erring drivers and not their enforcement units.
But outgoing LTFRB chairman Winston Ginez downplayed Inton’s claim, pointing out that Philippine National Police personnel are authorized to arrest erring drivers as long as they are deputized agents of the LTO.