PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday said would not beg for emergency powers from Congress to solve the traffic gridlock in the capital.
“I didn’t ask for it,” the president said at a briefing, adding that it was Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade 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.
He also recalled telling lawmakers that he was unable to “clear EDSA with the remaining years of my term.” Mr. Duterte is halfway through his six-year term.
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.
Transportation Secretary 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.
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 Houses. — Arjay L. Balinbin