LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 29 (PNA) -- Catanduanes Representative Cesar Sarmiento, chairperson of the House committee on transportation, urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to submit a detailed plan on the immediate projects it will pursue to address the traffic crisis in the country, specifically in Metro Manila.
Sarmiento, in a phone interview, said the specific plan will facilitate formulation of a House Bill granting emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to solve the pressing traffic crisis in the country.
He said the plan will serve as a “road map” on how, where and when the President will exercise the emergency powers.
Sarmiento said DOTr’s detailed plan should include identified subdivisions that should be opened up as alternate roads, legal measures to take once the subdivision owners file temporary restraining orders at local and higher courts, DOTr’s reorganization plan, procurement systems to be adopted and other traffic issues.
He said despite a ban on tackling other issues while Congress deliberates on the budget, the House committee on transportation has been allowed to tackle the urgent issues it is facing.
Sarmiento said submission of the detailed plan will allow the newly created Technical Working Group (TWG) to hasten consolidation of House Bills filed by 11 members of Congress, the latest of which was that submitted by Albay second District Rep. Joey Salceda.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe, Representatives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Arthur Yap, Strike Revilla and Pia Cayetano, were among those who submitted their versions of the Bill addressing the traffic crisis.
The TWG is chaired by Sarmiento with members from the house committee on transportation, DOTr and private stakeholders.
Sarmiento said they have started two sessions that reviewed and deliberated on the 11 versions.
“Hopefully, these would be consolidated into one and presented at the house plenary for discussion and approval,” he said.
Sarmiento said the TWG is expected to submit to the House its consolidated version for plenary debates on October 7.
He said they hope to come up with a comprehensive bill granting emergency powers to the President by the end of the year.
Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on transportation, will formulate and handle deliberations on the Senate version of the Bill.
Salceda’s House Bill 3712 mandates the formulation of a decongestion and transportation network development reform plan for four sectors--land-based, rail transport and toll roads, air-based and seaports.
The bill seeks the designation of a traffic crisis manager under DOTr, grant of authority for special modes of procurement, safeguards in implementing the executive order on Freedom of Information to ensure transparency and accountability and creation of a congressional oversight committee.
Salceda said the House Bill provides an initial P20 billion to jump start the traffic reform plan which can be sourced from the current year’s budget of the agencies implementing the measure and from savings of the national government.
The Albay solon stressed the urgency of the House Bill by citing a report of the Japan International Cooperation Agency which said that land and air traffic congestion is costing the country losses in potential income of P2.4 billion daily.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has added this daily losses will balloon to P6 billion by 2030 if no intervention is undertaken,” said Salceda. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD