The measure that serves as the House of Representatives’ response to the Duterte administration’s request for “emergency powers” to solve the metropolitan traffic congestion has finally been sponsored on the plenary floor.
Catanduanes lone district Rep. Cesar Sarmiento read his sponsorship speech Wednesday for House Bill (HB) No.6425, or the proposed “Traffic Crisis Act of 2016 Maki-Isa, Makisama, Magka-Isa.” This means that the measure is now open for debate from House members.
Sarmiento chairs the House Committee on Transportation, which began tackling the proposal in September 2016 or just a few months after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency.
The full title of HB No.6425 reads, “An Act prescribing an urgent, comprehensive and integrated land-based traffic management policy to effectively address the traffic congestion crisis in Metro Manila, Metropolitan Cebu and Metropolitan Davao and appropriating funds therefore.”
Duterte had described the traffic situation in the country’s metropolitan areas as a “crisis,” sparking discussions on whether or not Congress will grant him emergency powers or a special authority to tackle the worsening traffic problem.
But as the measure went through the legislative mill, it has been less associated with calls for emergency powers and identified more as a bill that simply focuses on addressing the current traffic situation.
“We took time and effort to craft this bill. We too considered what was popular but we deemed it more important to delve deeper into what should be done with the present organizational structure in the existing system, mechanisms and processes that trigger the chaos we are in,” Sarmiento said.
A key facet of the bill is its designation of the Secretary of Transportation as the “Traffic Chief.”
This official will be granted “full power and authority to streamline the management of traffic and transportation, and control road use in identified metropolitan areas.”
Top Duterte allies House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Floor Leader Rudy Fariñas and Sarmiento are among the principal authors of the bill. (Ellson Quismorio)
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