House panel to discuss emergency powers for traffic in 2017

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2016 05:43 PM

A committee of the House of Representatives is consolidating position papers from different stakeholders, including the Department of Transportation (DOTr), as it gears to discuss emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to solve Metro Manila's traffic crisis.

House Committee on Transportation Cesar Sarmiento told radio DZMM Friday they were able to receive these papers before they went on recess for Christmas.

"Sa pag-resume po namin, agad-agad na ite-take-up po sa committee para ma-approve po ng committee level ang version ng House," he said.

(When we resume, we shall immediately take up the issue in the committee so we may approve at the committee level the version of the House.)

On Wednesday, a Senate committee recommended the granting of emergency powers to Duterte, and will be discussed in the plenary before it is endorsed by the upper chamber.

In the lower house, Sarmiento said, they are awaiting concrete plans from the DOTr for immediate implementation. He noted, most of the projects they have submitted thus far have already been included in the 2017 budget. 

The big projects, estimated to cost P8-trillion, however, are not yet included. Sarmiento said they actually just saw the enumerated projects where the budget was supposed to be used when it was published in broadsheets after the agency held a press conference, and not during their meetings.

"Kasi yung malalaking proyekto, ang gusto ho sana namin, yung mga proyektong immediate, yung mga makakatugon kaagad sa ating problema, pero yung mga proyektong ibinigay nila, yung mga gestation period nila roon, aabot ng limang taon, mahigit limang taon," he said.

"Syempre, mas gusto namin, yung talagang immediate po na makapag-address ng ating problema," he said.

This is why, said Sarmiento, they indicated a provision in their bill that the DOTr is to submit their priority projects within 90 days, and it shall be looked into by the joint oversight committee.

BIDDING

Sarmiento noted that a common provision in the 12 proposed traffic crisis acts was the one regarding loosening the bidding procedure by going into negotiated procurement.

However, he pointed out that even without the special powers for the president, the concerned agency may already do that under Republic Act 9184.

"Ang problema ngayon, hindi malinaw ang ibig sabihin ng emergency situation kung saan pwede niyang i-avail by citing yung emergency situation na yun kasi alam po natin," he said.

He explained, they have repeatedly called out the management of the Metro Rail Transit -3 (MRT-3) that they may resort to negotiated procurement under this law, citing an emergency situation.

"Ngayon, medyo natatakot sila na i-invoke yung emergency situation dahil hindi masyadong klaro, parang gray area," he said.

"Kaya ang ginawa namin sa aming pagdinig, na ituring na emergency situation ang traffic crisis, na kung saan puwede na silang mag-invoke ng negotiated procurement," he added.