‘Make emergency powers bill comprehensive’
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 2, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo urged his colleagues yesterday to make the bill seeking to grant President Duterte traffic-related emergency powers as comprehensive as possible.

He said he could not understand why the proposed Traffic Crisis Act of 2016 limits its coverage to land transportation.

“It should cover the aviation and maritime sectors as well,” he said.

“We all know that there are congestion problems in our airports, both on land and in the air, and in our seaports. We have to address these problems.” 

Castelo said air traffic woes at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have made it one of the worst airports in the world.

These problems cause delays in takeoffs and landings and even result in flight cancellations, he added.

Castelo said on many occasions, airplanes have to keep hovering over the airport before they could be allowed to land or line up on the runway for a considerable time before they could take off.

“We need to address with dispatch the construction of regional airports, optimization of the Clark International Airport, expansion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport runway and apron, among others,” he said.

Castelo said Manila’s seaports, on the other hand, experience traffic and cargo congestion, with cargo trucks crowding roads outside to wait for their turn to load imported products and raw materials.

There is a compelling reason to maximize the use of the ports of Batangas and Subic to redirect some of the international cargo that clogs Manila’s ports, he added.

Castelo criticized the plan of the National Economic and Development Authority to authorize another international cargo port in Manila’s north harbor.

This will add to traffic jams in the already congested roads of Manila, he added.

Castelo also expressed concern over a provision in the emergency powers bill to mandate the Department ofTransportation to submit a list of priority projects to the envisioned joint Senate-House of Representatives oversight committee within 90 days from the passage of the proposed law.

He said he found no sense of urgency in the bill that is supposed to address a traffic emergency or crisis.

“We should hit the ground moving,” he said.

“Why should the public wait and sacrifice more if the authorities could already act when the law gets enacted?” 

Castelo said the House should compel the DOTr to submit a list of projects that would address the traffic crisis.

The proposed traffic crisis bill designates the transportation secretary as traffic chief, to whom the President could delegate the exercise of emergency powers.

Castelo questioned another provision calling for the creation of a Department of Urban Traffic Management.

The proposed new department would just duplicate the functions of the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (IACT) that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade recently created and other agencies having to do with traffic and land transportation regulation, he said.

Like the IACT, it would be another useless layer in the bureaucracy, he said.

Castelo criticized the MMDA and IACT for taking more than six hours two weeks ago to clear the congested Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City of a single truck that overturned during the early morning rush hours.

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