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House panel OKs Duterte traffic emergency powers

The House Committee on Transportation approved yesterday “in principle” the proposed emergency powers to President Duterte to help address the worsening land and air traffic woes, particularly in Metro Manila.

The panel, chaired by Catan-duanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, said they are ready to grant emergency powers to the Chief Executive to resolve the traffic situation that has turned into a national crisis.

“Yes, in principle, we will grant him emergency powers. I am in agreement in granting the President emergency powers, but we will see to it that it will pass the test of constitutionality. Pag tinanong, malay mo ‘pag binigay namin, somebody will question it, pagda-ting ng Supreme Court, sana this is constitutional and it will not be declared unconstitutional,” Sarmiento said in an interview after his committee’s organizational meeting.

Meanwhile, Sarmiento scoffed at Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for saying that the traffic problem in Metro Manila is only a “state of mind.”

Sarmiento said if the situation is considered as a “state of mind,” Duterte should have not asked Congress to grant him emergency powers.

“We feel that it’s real so nararamdaman natin. That is why they are asking us, the Senate, and the House to address the problem by way of granting the President emergency powers to address the traffic crisis,” Sarmiento said. (Charissa M. Luci)