De Lima open to emergency powers vs traffic mess

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima today expressed openness to grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve the worsening traffic situation in highly urbanized cities, particularly in Metro Manila.

“I’m open to grant emergency powers to the President, subject to scrutiny of the details of their plans. If I see there is nothing constitutionally or legally objectionable with the proposed measure, then I will be glad to support it,” she said.

“Like many of you, I too share the public’s frustration over the present traffic problem. But I also hope the Executive (Branch) lists down the existing limitations of the present laws so that amendments can be properly introduced and empower them to solve the traffic crisis,” she added.

The Senate public services committee is expected to open public hearing on the “Traffic Crisis Act” which seeks to grant emergency powers to President Duterte for two years and create a “superbody” to address the road and air traffic congestion.

The measure also seeks to do away with the mandatory bidding on procurement of transportation equipment and take over errant transport franchises to resolve the traffic woes on roads and airports in Metro Manila and Cebu.

De Lima, however, said she would want to scrutinize the proposed measure for emergency powers to ensure that there would be enough safeguards or oversight measures against possible abuses.

Since the emergency powers would require certain authority to make necessary procurements, she maintained that the bidding process for all government projects is a non-negotiable aspect before Congress could grant emergency powers.

“Now, for as long as they will not do away completely with the bidding process, I am willing to support. Kasi may iba’t-ibang paraan ng pag-procure. Huwag lang iyung wala talagang bidding,” she stressed.

Mindful that the bidding process could take up to four months for infrastructure projects under normal circumstances, De Lima said a special procurement process and other accountability measures must be included in the proposed measure.

“But how to come up with a process na less ang mga dadaanan kasi ang procurement process kasi natin ngayon it takes several months. Paano iyan mapaikli? At iyun ang dapat kasama diyan sa emergency powers,” she pointed out. “As long as there are also enough accountability measures, I’m willing to support it. These measures must not just cover financial matters, but also include performance indicators and targets,” she said.

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