Duterte ally: No need for emergency powers to fix traffic


Posted at Jul 05 2016 12:17 PM | Updated as of Jul 07 2016 11:10 AM

An ally of President Rodrigo Duterte believes the president does not need emergency powers to solve the traffic problem in Metro Manila.

Speaking to radio dzMM, former Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, Jr. said the national government only needs to meet with village chieftains in order to clear roadblocks.

"Ang kailangan, especially dito sa Metro Manila, meeting-in lang iyung mga barangay from one area to the other so that ang flow ng traffic is continuous. Tingin ko hindi na kailangan ng emergency powers doon," said Pimentel, the author of the Local Government Code.

"Hindi na kailangang pwersahan na mag-usap kundi coordination of activity," he added.

Duterte and several Cabinet officials earlier argued that additional powers are needed to provide far-reaching solutions to the traffic nightmare that is costing the country about P3 billion a day.

READ: Duterte aide warns: 'No emergency powers, no reform'

With the additional powers, the government can trump local government ordinances, favor direct contracting over public bidding for transportation-related projects, open private subdivision roads to traffic, and remove transport terminals and public markets located on busy highways.

Pimentel, however, said emergency powers run counter to the ideals of democracy because it can impose measures without thorough consultation with the people.

"Ang demokrasya is evolutionary; it's not revolutionary. Ibig ko sabihin, may mga patakaran na matagal talaga sapagkat kailangan kuhanin mo ang sentimyento ng taumbayan," he said.

"Huwag naman na i-assume lang na susunod lahat sa kagustuhan mo. Hindi pwede iyun."

The former lawmaker also noted that emergency powers are not needed to overrule local officials who would oppose the initiatives of the national government out of mere whim.

Under the law, Pimentel said city or provincial councils could reprimand barangay officials who block measures that could ease traffic congestion in the metropolis.

Incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, meanwhile, reiterated that emergency powers are essential in speeding up the rehabilitation of mass transit systems, procurement procedures and the removal of bus terminals in busy highways.

"Maraming mga kinakailangang emergency powers para magawa ito ng ating gobyerno," he said.

Alvarez also guaranteed that an oversight committee in the Senate and House of Representatives will monitor the implementation of the additional powers.
"Kung halimbawa nakita natin na iaabuso na iyung emergency powers, e di tatanggalin na kaagad iyung emergency powers," the Duterte ally said.

Outgoing President Franklin Drilon has filed a bill seeking emergency powers for Duterte.

Drilon said he is optimistic that his bill will be passed before the end of 2016. He said he will also request Duterte to certify the bill as urgent.

READ: Drilon eyes passage of bill on Duterte emergency powers by year-end

Former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is poised to propose emergency powers in the House of Representatives.