Palace: Fresh emergency powers proposal for Duterte 'belated, no longer priority'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2019 02:32 PM


MANILA — Granting emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to fast track the "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program is "belated" as he is now halfway into his term, a Palace official said Saturday. 

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said such measure was "no longer a priority" after Duterte ally Albay Rep. Joey Salceda filed House Bill No. 5456 Wednesday seeking "emergency powers" for the chief executive to hasten government's ambitious infrastructure program and spare it from red tape.

"While we respect the wisdom of Congress and laud the gentleman from Albay in seeing the importance of this flagship infrastructure program of the current government, we consider this proposed measure belated and no longer a priority legislative agenda of the President, given that we only have less than three years left in office," Panelo said in a statement. 

Panelo's statement mirrored that of former presidential top aide and now Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, who earlier said emergency powers for Duterte should have been given in 2016. 

Such emergency powers would allow the President to remove "roadblocks" to projects, such as right of way issues and slow procurement, among others.

In September, the transportation department withdrew its request for emergency powers, meant to supposedly to build infrastructure to address worsening traffic in metropolitan areas across the country. 

On Saturday, Panelo said the government would simply maximize what is available under the law, such as the expropriation powers of the state.

"One of the inherent powers of the State is the power of eminent domain where pertinent government offices, through the Office of the Solicitor General, may expropriate or initiate proceedings therefore to acquire private property for public use... The current agencies involved in the infrastructure program are presently utilizing this process."

Duterte and his economic managers promised a "golden age" of infrastructure powered by unprecedented spending under the "Build, Build, Build" program.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said earlier this week government's flagship infrastructure push was a "dismal failure," noting that only 2 percent of the projects have been implemented after 3 years.

But Malacañang insisted that 35 of the projects were already under construction; 32 were about to commence construction within 6 to 8 months; 21 in the advanced stages of government approval; and 12 in the advanced stages of feasibility studies.