THE SENATE suspended on Tuesday the hearings on bills granting emergency powers to President Duterte to solve the traffic crisis until transportation officials submit their list of priority projects.
In a statement, Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said there would be no hearings until the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) list down the projects to be implemented using the expanded powers.
In reaction, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said they would submit the detailed list of the projects this week.
“It’s only right for us to submit documents, to convince lawmakers,” Tugade told reporters at the sidelines of a business forum organized by the Management Association of the Philippines.
A third hearing on at least two Senate bills was scheduled to be held on Tuesday morning only to be cancelled.
“The executive branch is in a hurry to [for Congress to pass] the emergency powers bill but based on our hearings, we have learned that the DOTr and the MMDA have yet to come up with concrete projects under the emergency powers bill,” Poe said.
During a hearing on Aug. 25, transportation officials had asked for two weeks to prepare a bill of particulars on the proposed projects eyed to solve the transport crisis.
“It is important to have the concrete plans that will have to carry particularly the transport infrastructure projects to at least inform the public and Congress about total projected costs, sources of financing, timeline and government guaranty if any, among other public interest matters,” Poe told the Inquirer in a text message when asked for more details about her announcement.
“Secondly, the bill of particulars would guide Congress to tailor fit the necessary provisions to ensure successful fulfillment of these plans and projects, including the appropriate safeguards against corruption,” she said.
While waiting for DOTr and MMDA officials to comply with requirement, Poe said her committee would proceed with consultative meetings with affected sectors “to hear their particular needs and suggestions which we can also submit to DOTr.”
Tugade told reporters yesterday that the emergency powers would pave the way for government to create a single traffic authority with uniform rules, in contrast with the current system, where the national government and individual local government units follow different road management guidelines.
He said it would also help government access private roads—like those in subdivisions—speed up the procurement process, hasten right way of acquisition and prevent lower courts from issuing orders that could delay crucial improvements or projects.