MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe said Wednesday she was just doing her job by scrutinizing how proposed emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte would solve the metropolis' crippling traffic.
Duterte last month was quoted as saying that he "cannot do anything" about the traffic gridlocks, particularly in EDSA, because of an "atribida" (impertinent) lady who warned that emergency powers might be prone to corruption.
The President did not identify who he was referring to, but Poe, chairperson of the Senate public services committee looking into transportation issues, said she earlier told Duterte: "Mag-iingat lang po tayo para 'di tayo maloko, hindi maging corrupt ang sistema."
(We have to be careful so we won't be fooled, the system will not be corrupt.)
"Hindi puwedeng magbibigay ka nang nakapikit lang ang mata mo. Kailangan ay talagang nakadilat ka at tinitingnan mo, ito iyong solusyon, ito rin ang safeguards," she told radio DZMM.
(You can't just give emergency powers with your eyes closed. You need to have your eyes open and see this is the solution, these are the safeguards, too.)
"Kung atribida, kung ako nga ba iyon, ang masasabi ko lang pasensya na, trabaho ko ang ginagawa ko. Kung sa tingin nila may magandang solusyon, sa tingin ko responsibilidad nilang lahat na ihayag iyan," she added.
(If I'm impertinent, if I was the one he referred to, all I can say is, I apologize, I'm just doing my job. If they think there is a good solution, I think it's their responsibility to bare that.)
Duterte, she noted, did not certify the proposed emergency powers as urgent legislation while Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has yet to heed lawmakers' directive to submit a revised list of traffic solutions.
Tugade on Tuesday told lawmakers that emergency powers are needed to speed up the procurement process and resolve right of way issues, said Poe.
However, an executive order by Dutetre already shortened the timetable for procurement and allowed alternative modes like direct contracting and negotiations which do not need bidding, the senator said.
The Supreme Court also ruled that temporary restraining orders and injunctions cannot be issued against transportation projects, she added.
Emergency powers, she said, are also unnecessary to procure new trains for the MRT-3 and conduct clearing operations.
"Gusto ko naman talagang ibigay iyan (emergency powers) kung may patutunguhan at kung mayroon naman talagang certification na ito ay kailangan," said Poe.
(I want to grant that if it will lead to something and there is a certification that it's necessary.)
For now, a technical working group will meet weekly about the proposed emergency powers, overhauling the government's traffic plan, and suggestions by the Japan International Cooperation Agency on how to decongest roads, said Poe.