MANILA, Philippines – While reiterating her support for moves to ease traffic congestion in the country, Senator Grace Poe has cautioned that emergency powers given to President Rodrigo Duterte will not be like a “magic pill” that will instantly solve problems.
“We reiterate our support for any solution to ease the traffic congestion particularly in Metro Manila. We also welcome any support from our colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives on the issue,” Poe said in a statement on Thursday.
However, in an earlier interview with DZMM, Poe cited the slow pace of rehabilitation in Marawi City as an example of how emergency powers do not necessarily mean speedy solutions.
“‘Wag nating isipin na magic bill or magic bullet ang isang emergency power dahil kahit nandyan ‘yan, nakita naman natin na ang rehabilitasyon sa Mindanao ay hindi agad-agad,” Poe told DZMM.
“Baka naman kasi iniisip ng iba na porke’t may emergency powers ay hindi na natin kailangan i-daan sa korte ang pagpipigil halimbawa ng hindi right of way, o kaya ‘yong relocation ng informal settlers. Lahat po yon ay dadaan pa rin sa proseso,” she added.
Poe also asked government to take extra care in using these powers, as this may lead to corruption.
“Mabuti naman at binubuhay na nila, at si Senator (Francis) Tolentino ay kaalyado ng Pangulo, siguro naman sa pagkakataon na ito ma-certify as urgent ‘yan,” Poe said.
“Lahat tayo biktima ng traffic […] ang problema lang kasi po dito sa emergency powers, kailangan pag-ingatan natin, ‘yong hindi gagamitin ito para magkaroon ng problema halimbawa sa korapsyon,” she added.
Recently, Senate Bill No. 213 or the Special Emergency Power Act was filed in the 18th Congress. If enacted, it will give the government the authority to enter in deals even without public bidding, to solve land, air, and sea traffic problems in urbanized areas such as Metro Manila, Metropolitan Cebu, and Davao City.
According to Poe, several senators have previously asked to specify the projects and those who would lead the operations. She particularly gave reservations about having Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade as the traffic czar, considering the number of jobs he is now handling.
“Sino ba ang magiging traffic czar? Si Secretary Tugade ba? Eh ngayon lang hindi na magkanda-ugaga sa dami ng trabaho niya. Sino ba ang pinaka-kwalipikado? Hindi ba dapat enhinyero?” Poe asked.
Slow traffic flow and traffic jams have been parts of Filipino lives, especially for Metro Manila residents. In 2018, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) said the country loses P3.5 billion daily because of heavy traffic. /muf
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