DOTR open to reviving emergency powers bid to address traffic crisis
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is open to reviving a shelved program to declare a traffic crisis in Metro Manila and seek so-called emergency powers from Congress after President Duterte’s allies consolidated their power after last week’s midterm polls.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told reporters on Monday that the DOTr would remain supportive if traffic crisis bills pending before the Senate and House of Representatives were revived.
“[We will] pursue in a manner that it will not distract me from the primary projects,” Tugade said, referring to the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program. “My mindset now is to finish the projects.”
The declaration of a traffic crisis was among the Duterte administration’s earliest and most controversial programs. It was deemed shelved after lawmakers failed to agree on its final form.
“Our feeling is we have submitted all the necessary papers,” Tugade said.
Among those backing the revival of traffic emergency powers is former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Senator-elect Francis Tolentino, who did not immediately respond to a text message on Monday.
Under the proposed bills, broad powers will be granted to the traffic crisis manager or traffic chief for around three years.
A key part of the legislation is the so-called action plan that will empower the traffic manager to “immediately” implement programs to alleviate congestion. This involves streamlining dated rules and regulations among local government units and on roads like Edsa and C5 and reforms in the public transport sector.
While not explicitly stated, the traffic manager may also seek to control the number of vehicles on the road.
Tugade spoke to reporters as the DOTr launched the start of civil works for the first package of the Philippine National Railways’ Clark Phase 1 project.
This is a component of the North-South Commuter Railway System, which will be interconnected with the Light Rail Transit Line 1 at the Blumentritt Station, LRT-2 at the Sta. Mesa Station and Metro Rail Transit Line 3 at the Edsa Station. It will also be connected to the Metro Manila Subway at the Nichols and FTI stations and with PNR Bicol at the Sucat Station.
PNR Clark Phase 1 consists of two civil works packages, with the first having already started construction last Feb. 15 by Sumitomo-Mitsui Construction Corp. and the second starting Monday by the Taisei-DMCI joint venture.
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