Giving priority to any bill that will improve the quality of public services is good, but the public should not think that emergency power is a “magic bullet,” Senator Grace Poe said Thursday.
“We have seen that the rehabilitation in Mindanao was not immediate despite the emergency power,” said Poe, referring to the emergency power granted to President Rodrigo Duterte to rebuild Marawi City after it was laid waste by terrorists.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said President Duterte did not influence the filing of the Senate bill seeking to give him emergency powers for two years to solve the country’s traffic woes.
But Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo commended Senator Francis Tolentino for filing Senate Bill 213, or the Special Emergency Power Act.
The measure seeks to ease the traffic congestion in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City, and other highly urbanized cities.
Poe, who is expected to stay as chairman of the Senate public services committee, said the bill’s approval would depend on a lot of factors: the cooperation of both Houses of Congress, the clarity of its objectives, the compliance by agencies in providing the data required and, if absolutely necessary, a certification of urgency from the President.
Reacting to the emergency powers filed again, and this time by neophyte Senator Francis Tolentino, Poe said it was best for the Transport department to be reminded about what the other senators were asking for last Congress, particularly the specific list of projects and the traffic management plan to counter the effects of many infra projects in relation to the worsening traffic.
She reiterated her support for any solution to ease the traffic congestion, particularly in Metro Manila.
“We were all for passing the bill last Congress, if not for the failure of the DOTr to submit to us the list of projects that would be covered by the grant of powers,” Poe said.
She said everything must be well-defined. She said the blanket grant of emergency powers under the Constitution was not allowed.
“We will also need the support of the President to rally his troops in both Houses to support the bill. If the administration wants it, they can certify it as urgent,” Poe said.
In filing the measure, Tolentino said the prevailing traffic gridlock could be considered a national emergency due to is adverse effects on the economy.
He cited a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency that the government was incurring daily loses of P3.5 billion due to the monstrous traffic.
“The traffic congestion crisis must be considered a national emergency due to its detrimental effects on life, the economy, and productivity,” said Tolentino who was a former chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority. With Nat Mariano