Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said he would still push for his special powers bill despite Cayetano’s declaration that President Duterte no longer wants emergency authority.
Edd Gumban /File
Duterte's special powers on BBB pushed
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - November 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Despite getting a cold reception from Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the proposal to grant special powers to President Duterte to allow him to speed up his much-touted Build, Build, Build (BBB) infrastructure program is still very much alive, according to the main proponent.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said he would still push for his special powers bill despite Cayetano’s declaration that President Duterte no longer wants emergency authority.

It’s too late in the day and such authority should have been granted at the start of the Duterte administration, Cayetano earlier said.

“I push and I push really hard for ideas I think are good for the country,” Salceda told The Chiefs show on Cignal TV Thursday.

He expressed confidence that he could convince Cayetano and his other colleagues in the House of Representatives to back his proposal to grant the President special authority to shortcut the procurement process and even disallow courts lower than the Supreme Court from stopping infrastructure projects even temporarily.

“I have lost only very few battles in my life,” he boasted.

He claimed that President Duterte would not be able to deliver on his ambitious P8-trillion infrastructure “without special powers.”

A similar authority for the Duterte administration was earlier pushed to allow the Chief Executive to solve the traffic crisis, which he promised during the election campaign to achieve in three to six months.

However, halfway through the Duterte presidency, traffic seems to be getting worse. The President has blamed Sen. Grace Poe, whose public services committee sat on the proposed grant, for his administration’s failure to ease traffic. But Poe said she’s not the one in the driver’s seat.

If Salceda wins in the House, his proposal will certainly face rough sailing in the Senate, if it is not declared DOA or dead on arrival.

Its principal opponent will be Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and his opposition bloc. Drilon has claimed that the BBB program is a “dismal failure,” with only nine of 75 projects having been started more than three years into the Duterte administration.

Salceda disputed Drilon’s figures, saying there are 101 BBB projects, of which 54 “are in the middle of implementation.”

He said other potential opponents of his proposal are those “who have phobia about martial law and emergency powers.”

He also blamed the Constitution, claiming the Charter drafted during the administration of the late president Corazon Aquino “has slowed down national processes.”

He said even President Duterte could not get his proposal to re-impose the death penalty approved by the Senate.

“The Senate said, ‘no,’ and that was the end of it,” he said. But even before the 1987 Constitution, the country already had a Congress composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and one chamber could frustrate the other’s initiative.

Incidentally, the Senate is dominated by Duterte allies led by Sen. Vicente Sotto III, death penalty’s principal critic.

JOEY SALCEDA
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