PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte did not ask Congress leaders to expedite the passage of a proposed measure granting him emergency powers to address the traffic crisis in Metro Manila and other urban centers.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III made the clarification when asked whether the Chief Executive had certified as “urgent” his proposal to be granted emergency powers to deal with the traffic problems that affect economic activity.
The President on Monday night met with some members and leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives for a “mini” LEDAC (Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council) meeting to initially discuss the Duterte administration’s legislative agenda.
“Hindi napagusapan kagabi (ang emergency powers para sa Presidente). Kasi preliminary lang talaga ‘yung kagabi. Actually it was not the formal LEDAC. Wala naman sinabi doon na within the year (dapat mabigyan na ng emergency powers ang Presidente), said Pimentel in a chance interview.
“Maraming napag-usapan eh. Meron pang Budget Reform Bill, Government Right-Sizing Bill na manggagaling sa DBM (Department of Budget and Management). So, a lot of possible bills were mentioned,” said Pimentel.
On the other hand, Sen. Grace Poe hopes that the Duterte administration will prioritize the acquisition of lands where it intends to expand the railway system, such as in Mindanao, as part of its efforts to ease the traffic crisis in urban centers.
Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, conducting public hearings on the granting of emergency powers to the President, said that her panel is crafting a measure cloaking the President with emergency powers for at least three years to address the traffic crisis.
“Nakalagay po doon sa aming (ginagawang) batas, hanggang sa matapos itong 17th Congress kasi hindi naman po puwedeng lumagpas sa 17th Congress,” said Poe in a radio interview. The 17th Congress ends in June 2019 or after the election of new set of lawmakers in the Senate and HoR.
“Maaaring unahin na nila ang acquisition ng mga lupain doon sa mga lugar na halimbawa sa pag-expand ng mga rails natin. Puwede na nilang gawin iyan sa loob ng tatlong taon,” she said.
Poe as well as Senators Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Richard Gordon, Aquilino Pimentel III earlier pressed for an improved railway system nationwide.