Tugade welcomes proposal of appointing ‘czar’ to address traffic woes

-- Senator Manny Pacquiao delivers his first privilege speech today, August 8, 2016. Pacquiao filed 3 Senate bills on the re-imposition of death penalty in the Philippines. The neophyte senator was interpellated by Senators Sotto, De Lima, Villanueva, Hontiveros and Pangilinan.(MNS photo)

— Senator Manny Pacquiao delivers his first privilege speech today, August 8, 2016. Pacquiao filed 3 Senate bills on the re-imposition of death penalty in the Philippines. The neophyte senator was interpellated by Senators Sotto, De Lima, Villanueva, Hontiveros and Pangilinan.(MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Wednesday welcomed senators’ proposal of appointing a single person to lead the Duterte administration’s campaign to address the perennial traffic problems in Metro Manila and other urban areas across the country.

In a hearing of the Senate committee on public service, Tugade was asked by Senator Leila de Lima regarding his opinion on the proposals of Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito of appointing a single person to lead the implementation of various measures of the administration to address the traffic problems.

“That is also worth looking into Madame Senator,” Tugade responded.

“But I hope my comment that does not necessarily mean in a way or two that I am volunteering or accepting,” Tugade added in jest.

The committee on public service headed by Senator Grace Poe was hearing on Wednesday at least three bills proposing to give emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address the traffic problems.

De Lima pointed out that in Senate Bill 154 filed by Ejercito and in SB 999 filed by Cayetano, both senators proposed the appointment of a “traffic czar” or a “traffic manager” to lead the administration’s campaign to improve the traffic condition in the country.

De Lima said she had reservations in the proposal as it might also mean giving that person emergency powers that must only be accorded to the President.

“When we say we want to grant emergency powers, as the Constitution would contemplate, this is supposed to be a grant of emergency powers to the President,” De Lima said.

“So, I doubt whether we can further grant emergency powers to a particular official, even if that particular official is subordinate or an alter-ego of the president,” she added.

De Lima also pointed out that appointing a single person to be a “traffic czar” or a “traffic manager” might also lead to overstepping the powers and mandate of other line agencies.

“Number two, there would be a problem there, because all of the departments, the line agencies, you do have your own statutory mandate and authorities. A traffic czar, a singular official, cannot just be vested with broad powers to be able to override the functions of these line agencies,” De Lima said.

In his response to De Lima, Tugade said the campaign on traffic would be more efficient if there is a singular person serving as the “conductor” of transport agencies.

“Pwede ho yun, mas maganda ho yung isa lang talaga ang kumukumpas. Pwede hong isang grupo (ang involved), pero na isa lang ang responsible na kumukumpas.. na answerable sa Pangulo,” Tugade said.

At the earlier part of the hearing, Tugade said there must be a single authority that should run a synchronized traffic system which the administration is planning to implement to address the traffic problem.

Tugade admitted that this would mean temporarily suspending the powers of the local government units as far the traffic management is concerned. (MNS)

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