Understanding the President’s Emergency Powers to Address the Traffic Situation
In a State of the Nation Address scheduled for thirty minutes, the President, being himself took the liberty to air his own speech in a manner that has won the votes of more than sixteen million Filipinos and landing him a seat in Malacañang. Everyone is up on their toes when the “traffic” was addressed.
In a more peaceful SONA, gone are the burning of effigies, the running frenzies, and the horrific traffic caused by rallies and demonstrations by militant groups. Instead of a “Kilos Protesta” they now coin it as “Kilos Suporta.” There were no water cannons, teargas, and barbed wires.
One of the focal points of the event was the President persuading Congress to grant him emergency powers to alleviate the traffic situation in Metro Manila. Of course, in his unique brand of persuasion, he gave his audience two choices: “Ayaw mo? Okay lang rin. Para makita namin kung gusto ninyong madalian. Alam naman talaga ninyo sagad na lahat, sagad na. Nasa inyo ‘yan. If you give it, fine. If you don’t, we take the longer route, slowly.” (Do you want it? It’s OK. We would like to know if you want to hasten the process. You know very well that it is already intolerable. It’s up to you. If you give it, fine [emergency powers]. If you don’t we take the longer route, slowly.”)
Congress Needs to Declare a Crisis – Traffic
Former President Ramos was vested with an emergency power in relation to the water and electricity crises during his administration. Such power was used to issue licenses to Independent Power Producers (IPP) giving the country added power plants within two years.
For the president to exercise emergency powers, the Philippine Congress must come to an agreement and declare that the traffic situation is indeed a matter requiring immediate and absolute solutions.
How can these emergency powers help?
The proposed emergency powers are at its drafting stage and are not yet given specific details. Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade mentioned a few months ago that such intricacies will be further discussed in Congress. These powers will allow the president to have extraordinary powers to implement bold solutions for a maximum of two years. Come to think of it, how extraordinary is extraordinary?
Cut the Delays
The President for one can suppress the legal actions filed by losing bidders which cause momentous delays on the implementation of projects. As a classic example, it can be recalled that the P3.5B Bicol airport project in 2006 is still unfinished as of this writing. The bidding losers resorted to using MRs (motion for reconsideration) claiming that they were cheated. This has caused extreme delays in paperwork and the ultimate construction of the project.
Opening Subdivisions to Traffic
It will also allow the government to open private subdivisions for traffic. This, however, will arouse the ire of residents thinking about their safety among other things. The effects of this undertaking are numerous, from security issues to pollution. Should this initiative take place, it is imperative that different measures should also be in check to counterpart the disadvantages. The Transportation Secretary has already addressed this in an interview last month saying: “Will it be confiscatory? No. Will it be unreasonable? No, because when subdivisions are affected, you have to compensate for the road maintenance and security. If you get properties to address traffic congestion, you won’t confiscate it. There will be compensation,”
Clean the Roads
Ambulant vendors, transport terminals both legal and impromptu, and markets located along major roads will be swept clean. These are major sources of traffic that necessitate a strong course of action. The President, however, has promised a more strategic relocation of the affected. Stressing that these displaced businesses and individuals’ livelihood must remain integral.
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