THE House of Representatives has started working on a consolidated measure granting President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the worsening traffic problem.
The House Committee on Transportation approved, during public hearing, the creation of a technical working group (TWG) or subcommittee that will draw up the substitute bill.
At least 10 bills were filed by House members, all seeking to grant President Duterte emergency powers to resolve the horrendous traffic in the country particularly in Metro Manila.
The Department of Transportation (DoTr) pitched for the need to grant the President special powers limited only to the traffic crisis.
“It has been moved and seconded that we create a TWG that will harmonize and consolidate all the proposals and come up with a substitute bill for consideration by the mother committee and then for consideration in the plenary debate,” Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento said
Sarmiento said he will likely head the TWG for continuity and speed in drawing up the emergency powers substitute bill.
Sarmiento said since committee hearings in the House are suspended from Sept. 26 to Oct. 7, 2016 to give way to the plenary deliberations on the 2017 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), the TWG will be able to start holding meetings after this period.
“After Oct. 7, that will be the time the TWG can meet and invite resource persons. Before the congressional break on Oct. 22, we will meet and then present to the mother committee what we’ve agreed upon,” Sarmiento added.
Sarmiento expressed hope the TWG will be done with the substitute bill by November and be able to present the measure to the committee on transportation. He said the bill will subsequently be referred to the committee on appropriations because of the funding component.
Among the authors of the emergency powers are Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Deputy Speakers Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Raneo Abu, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas; Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, and others.
Last Sept. 5, the DoTr, through Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Garry de Guzman, submitted its own draft emergency powers bill and the list of sectoral projects that the agency will implement to address the traffic and congestion crisis.
Based on the report of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) dated Sept. 2, 2014, the country loses P2.4 billion per day or the equivalent of $51 million per day in potential income as a result of traffic congestion problems and lost productivity.