AN umbrella network of road users urged the powerful Commission on Appointments to junk the ad interim appointment of Secretary Arthur Tugade as secretary of transportation for being “unfit and unqualified” for the position.
In separate letters dated October 19 to Cebu Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, chairman of the CA’s Committee on Transportation and Communication and to CA Secretary Hector Villacorta, the Road Users Protection Advocates said the commission must step in and block Tugade’s appointment.
“We would like therefore to implore that you apply the mandate of your honorable office that it would ‘ensure that the President must exercise the power to appoint wisely, appointing only those who are fit and qualified,’” RUPA chairman Ray Junia said in his two-page letter.
“We believe that the President failed to appoint wisely when he named Secretary Tugade to the post because we are convinced the appointee is not fit or qualified,” he added.
Junia recalled how Tugade boasted that he will solve the traffic crisis within 100 days after his assumption and even dared President Duterte on national television to fire him if he could not deliver on his promise.
“As we all know, no significant change has happened, except that traffic has turned from worse to worst since (Tugade) assumed his post, and we are now over the 100-day self-imposed deadline as of this writing,” Junia said.
RUPA also scored Tugade for coming out with “incredible and fantastic solutions that elicited laughter and sneer from the public and (transportation) experts” in a bid to wiggle out of his own 100-day ultimatum.
“This is making us think twice about the real state of his mental health,” Junia said.
“Among these incredulous solutions is his reported plan to install cable cars over the length of Laguna de Bay that he said would connect the southern province of Laguna to Metro Manila, an idea he copied from the experience of La Paz, Bolivia.
“This idea sent experts laughing since aside from being next to improbable, the project would be costly and would take many years to construct,” he added.
Junia also criticized Tugade for proposing to transform the MRT Line 2 into a Bus Rapid Transit, which he described as an idea “that common sense dictate is suspect at best.”
Even Senator Grace Poe, who heads the Senate committee on public services, raised concerns on the planned BRT along EDSA, saying narrow lanes such as the intersection of Shaw Boulevard might not be able to handle BRT well as there will only be a single lane left for private vehicles.
“Also, according to some of our resource persons from the transport sector, the world trend is to move out of the rubber-based road surface vehicles, and yet, we are pursuing this by constructing BRT lines. How exactly can this help in easing traffic? Why not build more railroads and procure more trains?” Poe said.
Junia also questioned Tugade’s plan to transfer the DOTr head office in Pampanga, “apparently to make life easier for him since he still feels he is the anointed savior of the nearby Clark Development Corp.”
RUPA also raised the issue of conflict of interest being levied against Tugade by lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and the Senate in separate hearings for the emergency powers package being sought by the DOTr to address the worsening traffic situation.
“Secretary Tugade is both suspect for loyalty and competence. On loyalty, his business connection with the Ayala Group, plus his appointment of top Ayala officials to sensitive positions at the DOTr was brought to public attention, prompting some solons to question his loyalty. Ayala Group has mega contracts with the DOTr,” Junia said