TRANSPORT and consumer watchdog Road Users Protection Advocates (RUPA) has called on both houses of Congress to defer the granting of requested emergency powers until such time that President Duterte finds someone beyond reproach to head the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
RUPA convenor Ray Junia raised propriety and competence as the reasons why the requested extra powers should be withheld until Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade voluntarily relinquished or is kicked out from his post.
“Conflict of interest is one of the core issues here. It is wrong to appoint a businessman who is a major player in the industry supervised by the department where he is assigned, and consequently it is improper for that person to accept the post even it was offered to him” Junia explained.
“We want to make it clear that we support the granting of emergency powers to President Duterte but this must be done with the assurance that the people whom he will tap to implement these (powers) are truly competent and would have no other interest but to promote public good and welfare” Junia said.
“It is not correct to grant these powers now under Tugade’s watch because of his highly suspect character and loyalty as well as obvious incompetence as observed by the lawmakers themselves during the hearings” he continued.
Earlier, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez scored DOTr officials for their lack of clear-cut plans which he claimed causes the delay in the grant of the emergency powers.
“The problem was not with us in the House. We asked DOTr officials what they have done or what are their plans. They told us nothing. We cannot give emergency powers if we do not know where or how these would be used,” Alvarez said.
Senator Grace Poe likewise bewailed the incompetence of DOTr officials who were at a loss on how they will implement the measure and where they intend to secure the funding of around P8-Trillion that comes with it.
Junia meanwhile pointed out that Speaker Alvarez even lambasted Tugade in a recent radio interview for his choices of three undersecretaries who were reportedly “planted” in the department by big business conglomerates where they used to be connected.
Alvarez said part of the problem lies with some of Tugade’s undersecretaries “who have their own personal interests to protect.”
House transportation committee chairman Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento on the other hand said DOTr officials appear “confused on the specific powers they need”.
He noted that Tugade and his men do not realize that they already have the power to effect change in the transportation sector through their mandate and other existing laws.
Sarmiento declared that Tugade and his underlings are “confused” on what the traffic crisis is and consequently on what emergency powers they need to solve it.
“The bottom line here is that the lawmakers themselves are aware of the incompetence and suspect loyalty of Tugade and his men,” he qualified.
“Therefore it behooves them to defer the granting of the measure until such time that Tugade and his people are replaced by officials of unimpeachable reputation who are also more responsible and knowledgeable of the tasks that come with their positions” Junia stressed.