PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte still believes in his Transportation chief’s ability to handle the traffic gridlock in the capital and he sees no reason for him to quit, the presidential palace said yesterday.
The announcement came after Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares urged the president to replace Arthur P. Tugade with a traffic expert.
“Maybe Senator Grace has a person in mind, why doesn’t she come out with it,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo told reporters.
The lawmaker told ABS-CBN News that somebody else should deal with Metro Manila’s “traffic mess.”
Mr. Duterte on Tuesday said he would not beg for emergency powers from Congress to solve the traffic gridlock on the main EDSA highway in Metro Manila.
“I didn’t ask for it,” the president said at a briefing, adding that it was his Transportation chief who was keen on getting the authority for him.
Mr. Duterte said he asked his officials not to pursue it anymore after a lady senator had said they couldn’t be trusted with more powers.
Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who heads the public service committee, earlier said the body is not inclined to grant the Transportation department’s renewed plea for emergency powers to solve traffic congestion in the capital.
The senator, who opposed a similar proposal in the past Congress, said Mr. Duterte could ease traffic in Metro Manila without emergency powers from Congress.
Senators during a hearing on Tuesday also cited the Transportation department’s lack of a master plan.
The Transportation department can hasten road projects including stage three of the Metro Manila Skyway project, and roll out more trains for the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 or MRT-3, among other solutions, Ms. Llamanzares said.
Mr. Tugade last week renewed his call for emergency powers to solve the traffic gridlock on EDSA. 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.
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.
Several bills were filed 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 re-filed in both chambers. — Arjay L. Balinbin