MANILA, Aug 10 (Mabuhay) — Senator Grace Poe has laid down several conditions to consider the emergency powers being sought for President Rodrigo Duterte to address the traffic crisis in the country, saying there should be “clear cut parameters” that would constitute an emergency.
Poe enumerated the conditions when the Senate committee on public services, which she chairs, began on Wednesday its deliberations on several measures that would grand the President emergency powers for traffic.
“Giving the President emergency powers necessarily raises concerns about concentration of powers in one person as this could easily be abused. There are fears that if we grant emergency powers for this issue, then we open the floodgates to granting emergency powers for other so-called ‘crisis’ or ‘emergencies,’” she said in her opening statement.
“We must therefore, pose important questions on the extent of those powers. For instance, we must have clear-cut parameters as what constitutes as an emergency.”
“Second, we must be clear on what those emergency powers will be used for and whether they can effectively address the problems. It is important for us to define and quantify the objectives of the bills,” the senator added.
Poe then said she would apply the following principles to evaluate the proposed emergency powers.
First, she said, the additional powers “must be FOI-compliant.” FOI stands for Freedom of Information.
“This is one non-negotiable principle, constant in its implementation,” she said.
“It must permeate and penetrate all activities, contracts, projects, biddings, documents, awards, payments made pursuant to the act of granting emergency powers. Letting the sunlight in construction results in better-built infrastructure.”
Poe said the emergency powers must not only be “fiscally responsible” but it must also have details and deadlines.
“We will not go for vague powers, or blank checks. Hindi pwede ang bahala na kami (‘Let us be’ will not cut it). Everything must be well-defined. The parameters must be set. I assure you there will be elbow room and wide latitude given but not wide enough for thieves to sneak in,” she said.
“We will also insist on deadlines. It is not enough that you will tell us that you will build a tunnel. We will require you to tell us the exact date we will see the light at the end of it.”
Poe said they would only give the President a set of powers “on the condition that you will first give us the bill of particulars.”
“The powers must be in pursuit of clearly-identified results,” she said. “What are the exact deliverables, the cost of each, and when will it be finished? Specifically, the location of projects, the price tag of each and deadline of completion…”
“We will also be inquiring on projects that may need no powers of the emergency kind to implement,” the senator added.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade immediately gave his assurance that they would comply with all the conditions set to be able to get Congress’ approval for emergency powers. (MNS)