By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY Arthur P. Tugade yesterday said he and his department are ready to accept emergency powers to solve the traffic congestion in the capital if members of the incoming 18th Congress will push for such a measure.
If passed, Mr. Tugade said he will “pursue (it) in a manner that will not distract me from the primary projects (of the Department of Transportation).”
He added, “We leave it to them. As far as we are concerned, we think we have submitted all the documents,” referring to previously submitted documents to the Senate when the proposal was being evaluated.
Mr. Tugade’s comments came after Senator-elect Francis N. Tolentino, a former chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, said in a radio interview over the weekend that he will revive the proposal to grant emergency powers to solve the worsening traffic in the metro.
Asked for clarification on Monday, Mr. Tolentino said in a phone call that he doesn’t want to comment further until he speaks with Mr. Tugade himself.
“Mag-uusap pa kami ni Sec. Tugade, hayaan mo munang mag-usap kami. After the proclamation (Mr. Tugade and I will talk, let us finish talking first. We’ll talk after the proclamation (of the new senators),” he told BusinessWorld.
Mr. Tolentino was endorsed by the President in his Senate bid.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte and the DoTr have long sought for emergency powers to resolve congestion in urban areas of the country, starting with the proposed “Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016.”
It was supposed to grant emergency powers to the President for up to three years with a list of P1.2-trillion worth of land, air and sea projects that were expected to help in solving traffic problems.
The proposal was not passed in the Senate as Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the committee on public services, argued that granting emergency powers “would not be an instant solution, especially if it is not implemented well.”
Last November, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill No. 6425, or the “Traffic Crisis Act of 2017. Makiisa. Makisama. Magkaisa.”
It will designate the DoTr secretary as “Traffic Chief” for the period of the law and have “full power and authority… to streamline the management of traffic and transportation and to control road use in the identified metropolitan areas.”
Mr. Tugade said if the proposed measure was approved early on, progress would have been seen in the state of the country’s road traffic by now.
“Kailangan lang naman namin two to three years eh. Dapat kung binigay nila ‘yun, umusad na ‘yan. Wala, iniisip nila corrupt lahat ng tao eh. Iniisip nila kagaya nila kami (We only need two to three years. If they gave it, the traffic could have moved forward. But no, they think everyone is corrupt. They think we are like them),” he said.
“Bahala na sila du’n. Ang feeling namin na-submit na namin lahat ng papeles (We leave it to them. The DoTr has submitted all necessary documents),” he added.
The 18th Congress will convene in July.