Poe suspends Senate probe into proposed emergency powers


MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday postponed the Senate Committee on Public Services’ hearing on the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve traffic congestion as the panel awaits the draft bill from the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Poe, the Senate panel head, asked the DOTr to submit a list of projects to be implemented before they could resume the hearings. She said the Transportation department and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority have not yet created a list of concrete projects to be implemented under the emergency powers bill. She said the DOTr must submit a draft bill to determine the particular issues needed to be dealt with.

The senator also stressed that although the executive branch is in a hurry to pass the emergency powers bill, several measures must be conducted first before its passage. These measures include consultative technical working group meetings to fast-track the crafting of solutions that will address traffic problems in the country.

“Paano tayo gagawa ng epektibo at komprehensibong plano kung hindi natin nakukonsulta ang mga apektadong sektor? Sana hindi tayo magsayang ng pera at oras sa pagpapatupad sa mga planong hindi naman lubusang mapapakinabangan ng taumbayan,” Poe said.

“Sa ilalim ng mga proposed emergency power bills, two three years lang ibinigay natin sa kanilang palugit. Sana naman hindi maubos iyong palugit na iyon sa pagpaplano lamang. Dapat ngayon may maiprisinta na silang mga plano kung ano ang gagawin nila para masolusyonan ang trapiko sakaling hindi maipasa ang emergency powers bill,” the senator added.

The Senate panel conducted two public hearings on the proposed emergency powers last Aug. 10 and 25, respectively. During the second hearing last Aug. 25, DOTr officials asked the Senate committee to give them two weeks to prepare a bill of particulars, including a list of proposed projects, to solve the traffic crisis.

The public services committee heard the proposal of urban planners, transport and commuter groups and expressed hopes that the Transportation department would incorporate suggestions from the stakeholders in their draft bill. Poe said the proposal must be Freedom of Information-compliant and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade agreed with it.

By Rosette Adel (philstar.com)