MANILA - The government has dropped its bid for emergency powers to address the worsening traffic situation in the country’s urban centers, Sen. Grace Poe confirmed Wednesday.
Poe said the transportation department announced its decision to withdraw its request for emergency powers to address traffic congestion during its technical working group meeting with the Senate public services committee on Monday.
“'Yun ang sinabi nila sa TWG. Ewan ko pero puwede naman nila iatras. Pero mayroon naman kami pagkakataon na ayusin ang isang plano para magkaroon ng traffic management,” Poe told reporters.
(That’s what they said during the TWG meeting. I don’t know, but they can withdraw it. But we still have the option to come up with a traffic management plan.)
A statement from Poe’s office quoted Transportation Undersecretary for Road and Transport Infrastructure Mark Richmund De Leon as saying: “We actually received a message from Secretary Tugade that he echoes that statement of the President that he will no longer seek for emergency powers.”
Poe and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade have been trading barbs over the grant of emergency powers to address traffic. Poe is chair of the Senate public services committee, which leads deliberations on the emergency powers plea.
In the 18th Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte’s ally Sen. Francis Tolentino filed an emergency powers for traffic bill.
Poe has been castigating the transportation department for not submitting a comprehensive traffic management plan to her committee which would have expedited the passage of an emergency powers law.
She also said the transportation department could have carried out traffic-easing measures that do not require emergency powers.
"Not everything is legislated. At times, you just need to bring people together...It might not be emergency powers, it can be just a traffic solution,” Poe said during Monday’s meeting.
Expanded powers would allow government to employ faster procurement methods for infrastructure projects meant to address the traffic problem.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said it would also prevent parties from seeking halt orders against traffic policies.