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Solons press Palace to address traffic woes


Senators yesterday urged Malacanang to finally address the worsening traffic problem in Metro Manila which, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is already causing P3.5 billion daily losses to the country.

Sen. Grace Poe reiterated the need for Congress to enact the proposed emergency powers bill to put in place the needed infrastructure and other traffic management solutions.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto recommended a different tact, that of putting in live feed the progress of big-ticket items, in trillions of pesos, under the tight watch of no other than President Duterte himself, to ensure if his orders have been complied with.
Poe insisted on the need to grant the President extraordinary powers, saying that current laws do not adequately provide for the means to expeditiously and effectively solve the traffic and congestion crisis as some laws even create roadblocks to acting promptly.
“We are in a war against traffic; but if the people who will receive such emergency powers will categorically say that the powers are an ammunition they no longer need, then the onus of solving it falls solely and squarely on them,” Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public services and sponsor of the emergency powers bill in the Upper Chamber, added.
Recto agreed with his colleague, saying that Malacanang should lead whether the solution is engineering, education, enforcement or empowerment in nature.
“There is no magic bullet that will solve Mega Manila’s ‘carmageddon.’ It is a cocktail of solutions: from big government projects to small acts of courtesy on the road; from changing laws that will result in faster construction, to a change in behavior that will result in discipline; from dispersing economic activity to the regions to consistent enforcement of traffic rules in the city,” he said.
Palace, however, may consider fully harnessing information and communications technology by having government projects under live streaming, he said.
“I think it is time for the President to convert one of Malacañang’s halls into an infrastructure ‘war room’ where he and his men can monitor in real time the progress of big-ticket items in the multi-trillion-peso public construction portfolio,” he said.
“This is a benevolent-Big-Brother-is-watching management and diagnostic tool. Hindi pwede ang tamad at makupad kasi ‘Tay Digong is watching,” Recto added.
Under such set-up, the senator said the President will know if his orders have been complied with.
For one, Recto said, the transportation crisis has reached a point where solving it has to be monitored daily by the nation’s “builder-in-chief.”
“I would even suggest that work on big projects—like Marawi’s rehabilitation, the various train projects—be livestreamed, so that any hour of the day the President can view it from this room or on his cellphone. He should even order that MRT’s CCTVs be linked to the war room because raw live video is the best feedback,” he said.
“Pag report niya sa umaga sa Palasyo at bago sya umuwi, pwede siyang dumaan dito. Maaari ring magkaroon ng scoreboard na ipinapakita ang pondong nai-release na, tulad ng para sa classrooms at mga ospital. Da best kung geo-tagged ang mga proyekto, para isang click lang,lalabas ang status nito. Pwedeng clustered by LGU (local government unit), para lalabas kaagad ang listahan ng mga proyekto,” Recto said.
The senator further suggested to have the “war room” maximized by the Executive, suggesting that it should also be made to receive complaints from concerned citizens.
“Ito ang gusto ng taumbayan, lalo na doon sa mga lugar na ang flood control projects ay nilumot na, o mga highway na binungkal pero iniwan, na malamang ang Presidente is ‘on top of the situation,’” Recto said.
Poe noted the need to develop a reliable and convenient mass transit system, alternative roads and bridges, innovative technological traffic management solutions and development of economic centers outside of Metro Manila in order to decongest it.
“But all of this cannot be done without a well-thought out plan that can only be carried out effectively through coordination between the national and local government units. This can be achieved if we pass the emergency powers bill which I filed and has been pending in the Senate,” she said.
Unfortunately, however, her bill is being hindered by extended debates, the reason it is yet to be passed in the Senate.
Despite this, the emergency powers bill is in its advanced stage of discussion in the Senate plenary.
“Though the President initially asked for emergency powers, he said later on that he does not need it. This sent mixed signals to members of the House and the Senate,” she said.
“As we have witnessed, because of the President’s influence and popularity, the bills he explicitly mentioned to prioritize like the TRAIN, can hurdle Congress rather quickly,” Poe added.
“What is perhaps needed to expedite it through the last mile of approval is presidential certification of urgency because we all know that it is the lubricant which moves legislation,” she further said.


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