THE Senate public service committee is not inclined to grant the Transportation department’s renewed plea for emergency powers to solve traffic congestion in the capital, a lawmaker said yesterday.
Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who heads the body, told reporters President Rodrigo Duterte can ease traffic in Metro Manila without emergency powers from Congress.
The Transportation department can hasten road projects and roll out more trains for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 or MRT-3, among other solutions, the senator said.
“It’s easy to throw around the idea of emergency powers, but what can really ease the traffic problem is stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway project,” Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said in Filipino. “Another is the deployment of new trains at the MRT-3.”
Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade last week renewed his call for emergency powers to solve the traffic gridlock on the main EDSA highway in the capital. During a House of Representatives hearing on his agency’s budget, Mr. Tugade said it was possible to solve the traffic problem but it would take longer without giving special powers to the president.
“I will make him explain exactly how it will speed up the remedy, if he has one, for traffic,” Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said.
The government aims to open by early next year the third stage of the Metro Manila Skyway, an 18.7-kilometer toll road connecting Buendia Avenue in Makati City to Balintawak, in Quezon City.
The Transportation department also has yet to use the 48 so-called Dalian trains to boost the MRT-3’s fleet.
Ms. Poe-Llamanzares also said the procurement law allows emergency bidding for certain projects.
Several bills were filed in both houses of Congress in the previous Congress seeking emergency powers for Mr. Duterte to ease traffic congestion. The measures sought to give the Transportation chief “full power” to manage traffic on EDSA and control road use. The House approved the bill but the Senate version did not progress. The bills have been refiled in both Houses.
Mr. Tugade earlier said the Duterte administration only has three years to address the traffic problem by bypassing conflicting laws.
“It’s very simple,” Ms. Poe-Llamanzares said. “There’s no need for emergency powers to complete those projects. Even with emergency powers, the traffic wouldn’t ease if they don’t do what they need to do.” — Denise A. Valdez