SENATOR Francis Tolentino filed on Wednesday, July 10, a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte special emergency powers for two years to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila and in major cities across the country.
Tolentino's bill, Senate Bill 213 or the proposed Special Emergency Powers Act, also proposes to give the traffic crisis czar the power to rationalize the use of road and transport routes, adjust the working hours of government schools and offices, execute work-at-home schemes, and present other alternative solutions.
The Transportation Secretary will serve as traffic crisis czar.
The bill also proposes to implement public transport reforms, such as allowing local governments to establish their own mass transport system.
In his explanatory note, Tolentino said the bill seeks to authorize the President to "employ the necessary government resources, exercise or employ executive actions and measures unhampered by existing laws, regulations, and procedures, and adopt short-term, mid-term, and long-term development plans for a sustainable and efficient transport system.
"The traffic congestion crisis must be considered a national emergency due to its detrimental effects to life, economy, and productivity," Tolentino said in a statement.
He cited a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which estimates the losses in Metro Manila due to traffic at P3.5 billion.
A similar bill filed in the 17th Congress was listed as part of Duterte's legislative agenda.
The measure reached third reading at the House of Representatives and was passed only on first reading at the Senate. (Ryniel Berlanga/SunStar Philippines)