'Emergency powers' for Duterte to move 'Build, Build, Build' readied in House

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 13 2019 09:23 AM | Updated as of Nov 14 2019 03:36 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the 43rd Cabinet Meeting on Nov. 6, 2019. Albert Alcain, Presidential Photo

MANILA -- (2nd UPDATE) An ally of President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he would file a bill seeking "emergency powers" for the chief executive to roll out his "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program faster.

The "emergency powers" will allow the President to remove "roadblocks" to projects, such as right of way issues, said Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, adding he would file the measure as early as Wednesday.

Salceda said he found the implementation of "Build, Build, Build" "a little bit slow." He said it was "too early" to say that it failed, as alleged by Sen. Franklin Drilon.

"I'm taking away any alibi by the administration not to deliver on the 'Build, Build, Build.' I wanna restore the faith of the people on the capacity of the state to prompt consequences on the lives of ordinary people," he told ANC's Early Edition.

Sen. Bong Go, Duterte's former top aide, said Salceda's proposal was "too late in the day" and unlikely to prosper in the Senate.

"Two and a half years bibigyan mo ng emergency powers? Ibinigay dapat nung July 2016 nung kakaupo lang ni Pangulong Duterte," Go said, referring to Duterte's years left in office.

(Two and a half years then emergency powers? That should have been given in July 2016 when President Duterte just assumed power.)

"Pag hindi mo magawa yung dapat gawin, sisisihin na naman kay Pangulong Duterte yan," he said.

(When it fails to deliver, President Duterte will be blamed.)

Salceda said he drafted the emergency powers bill after the government identified 75 flagship projects in its revised list.

Economic growth will pick up and the Philippines' international competitiveness will improve once the "Build, Build, Build" moves faster, Salceda said.

Salceda, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the P4.1 trillion budget for 2020 could be finished and submitted to Duterte for signing as early as November.

Extending the validity of the 2019 budget to December 2020 will help ensure that P180 billion in spending that was held back by the delay in its passage will proceed, he said.

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Malacañang on Thursday welcomed Salceda's proposal.

“One of the reasons why bumabagal yung projects, kasi yung right of way," he said. "Kung may powers na, dire-diretso ang trabaho,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

(One of the reasons why projects are being constructed slowly is because of right of way. If the President has emergency powers, it would go smoothly.)

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, appears to have shut the door on asking Congress for emergency powers, particularly to address traffic congestion on EDSA. 
 
In a speech during a private event in San Juan Monday night, Duterte said instead of emergency powers, he now favors projects that could be finished in his remaining term.

”Ngayon you're talking of giving it to me sabi ko ayaw ko kasi di ko talaga matapos yan," he said.

(Now you're talking of giving it to me, I said I don't want ito because I could not finish it.)

Duterte at the start of his term sought emergency powers to resolve the traffic situation, but some lawmakers "insinuated that there may be some abuse of power," Panelo earlier said.

--With reports from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News