Commuters, perhaps, will welcome an iron hand to ease the traffic chaos in Metro Manila and other urban centers in the Philippines. The traffic snarl is partly attributed to undisciplined motorists, especially those driving public vehicles, unruly pedestrians and the uncoordinated activities of local government units.
The traffic mess, of course, cannot be significantly addressed because of fundamental factors. Metro Manila and other major cities in the Philippines need more alternative roads and an expanded rail network to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles and commuters.
But reviving a bill to grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte could alleviate the woes of commuters and hopefully instill discipline on the road. The House of Representatives finally began a plenary discussion on the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Duterte to address the ever worsening traffic condition in the metropolis and other urban areas.
Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento’s House Bill 4334, or the Traffic Crisis Act, proposes the creation of a single authority headed by a traffic czar who will be appointed by Duterte. It has taken the Lower House over a year to have the bill tackled in plenary session since its filing in Congress in 2016.
The bill features certain provisions that could be in conflict with the procurement law and overlap with the powers of local government units. The traffic czar under the bill, for instance, will have the authority to “… approve or disapprove all plans, programs, and projects proposed by local government units, offices and agencies within the Metropolitan Area, the Department of Public Works and Highways, public corporations, and private persons or enterprises.”
“Such approval by the traffic czar shall take the form of a development permit that shall be issued prior to any land development and shall be in lieu of all other permits such as those issued by the Metro Manila Development Authority and the local government units,” the bill sponsor explains.
The proposed bill also aims to prohibit any court, except the Supreme Court, from issuing any temporary restraining order against the bidding or procurement of priority projects, including infrastructure projects… and… the acquisition of the goods and consulting services as identified by the traffic czar.
The bill may encounter rough sailing in the Lower House but lawmakers should be reminded that the traffic situation is getting worse everyday. It’s a problem that needs an unconventional solution.