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Special, not emergency powers OK’d for traffic

MGA PANGYAYARING KAGILA-GILALAS - Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Instead of emergency powers for President Duterte, the House transportation committee approved yesterday a measure that would give the administration “special powers” to solve the perennial traffic problem in Metro Manila and other urban areas.

The special powers will be wielded for three years by the secretary of transportation. The secretary or Duterte may designate a “traffic czar.”

Voting unanimously, the panel members gave their nod to House Bill 4334, the Traffic Crisis Act of 2016, after deliberating on amendments to the original version of the bill. The measure was approved with 12 amendments.

“House Bill 4334 is hereby approved. This will be called special powers, not emergency powers,” committee chairman and Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, who authored the bill, said.

Sarmiento filed the bill as the government’s “urgent and comprehensive” response to the traffic problem plaguing Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao City.

The measure is expected to be sent to the House appropriations committee for funding in next year’s national budget.

Sarmiento said the measure provides for the creation of a single traffic authority headed by a traffic czar, who will either be appointed by President Duterte or Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

Under the measure, Tugade would be holding the special powers for three years as traffic chief.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) chief should formulate a management plan within 90 days that would harmonize all existing traffic regulations and oversee the implementation of public transport operations, traffic enforcement as well as traffic education programs.

The DOTr secretary would also have jurisdiction over traffic in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao City.

Once enacted into law, Sarmiento said the Traffic Crisis Act would not lead to the abolition of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which would still be tapped to coordinate with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and other transportation agencies and local government units.

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