THE chairman of the House committee on transportation is eyeing the passage of the Traffic Crisis Act that will grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte when Congress resumes session on January 15.
Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, the panel chairman, said the 292-man Lower Chamber is expected to jumpstart the plenary debates on House Bill (HB) No. 6425 during the resumption of session to address the traffic gridlock in Metro Manila and mega cities such as Metro Cebu and Davao City.
“It will be calendared for plenary debate when we resume session in mid-January,” said Sarmiento, one of the principal authors of the bill, hoping that the measure will be approved on third and final reading this month.
Sarmiento said the measure “is replete with easily-implementable programs that have immediate and far-reaching implications in our transportation sector in contrast to the big-ticket transportation projects which usually take years to complete.”
He said the measure would pave the way for the creation of a single traffic authority headed by a traffic czar who will be appointed by President Duterte.
“The traffic czar is expected to come up with a traffic management plan within 90 days that will harmonize and unify all existing traffic regulations in the affected areas,” said Sarmiento.
The bill designates the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary as de officio Traffic Chief who is empowered to streamline the management of traffic and transportation and control road use in the identified Metropolitan Areas.
According to HB No. 6425, the Traffic Chief shall have the power of supervision and control over the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority; Cebu Coordinating Council, as created under Section 9 of the proposed Act; Philippine National Police-Traffic Management Group; Land Transportation Office; Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board; Road Board; all other executive agencies, bureaus and offices with roles pertaining to land transportation regulation; and Davao Traffic Administrator.
The Traffic Chief, as alter ego of the President, shall have power of supervision over all local government units (LGUs) within the Metropolitan Areas.