House drops emergency powers for Duterte, to use oversight function vs traffic

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2019 11:02 AM | Updated as of Nov 04 2019 05:08 PM

Commuters queue on the road as they try to avail of a free bus ride from Cubao, Quezon City to Masinag, Rizal, east of Metro Manila on Oct. 10, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The House of Representatives will exercise its oversight powers to ease crippling traffic in urban areas, instead of giving President Rodrigo Duterte proposed emergency powers, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Monday as Congress resumed its session. 

"We will push for mass transportation and we will not only pass legislation; if needed, we will use our oversight powers. There's no reason that right of way should be a problem," Cayetano told ANC. 

For example, the House can "step in and talk to the [city] council[s]" about possible delays in the construction of the Metro Manila subway, he said. 

Asked if lawmakers would still push for emergency powers for Duterte, Cayetano added: "Not anymore." 

"The President said he doesn't want it anymore and you cannot attack a crisis with emergency powers when you're in the middle of it already," reasoned the House Speaker. 

Emergency powers are needed to speed up the procurement process and resolve right of way issues, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade earlier said. 

Duterte "wants" but "will not go down his knees and plead" for emergency traffic powers after some lawmakers "insinuated that there may be some abuse of power," his spokesperson Salvador Panelo said. 

PRIORITY BILLS 
 
The House on Monday will have an emergency meeting about a series of deadly quakes in Mindanao and bills certified as urgent by the President for the creation of 3 new departments focusing on disaster response, water distribution and overseas workers, said Cayetano. 

"I hope we can finish the 3 before Christmas because our main priority is the budget," he added. 

Lawmakers will also tackle a proposal to postpone the May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, said the House Speaker. 

"Done na iyan. Ang question lang (that's already done, the only question is), when will the elections will be; will it be 2022 or 2023? But both houses and I think Malacañang have agreed that it will be more productive if we just extend," he said. 

NO PORK 

Cayetano also said the proposed 2020 national budget has no lump sum discretionary funds, which are prone to corruption.

The Supreme Court earlier ruled the budget proposal should come from government agencies and the House of Representatives is "following that", he said. 

"So far, ang in-approve namin, lahat ng sinubmit din ng DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), ng Department of Agriculture. Walang pork [barrel]," he said. 

(We approved the proposal submitted by the DPWH and the Department of Agriculture. There is no pork barrel.)