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Carmageddon

The Duterte administration today hits its first 100 days but no solution is in sight yet for Metro Manila’s traffic nightmare.

Aside from the horrendous greenhouse gas emissions by vehicles which impose staggering costs on human health and climate change, the Japan International Cooperation Agency said land and air traffic congestion also costs the Philippines P2.4 billion daily loss in potential income. NEDA said the projection will balloon to P6 billion daily by 2030 if the crisis remains. Waze, an international traffic software application, said Metro Manila has “the worst traffic in the world” in 2015.

To address the nightmare the Duterte administration has sought emergency powers. Malacañang and Congress need to move in concert and agree on the configuration of such powers. Happily, House Bill 3712, filed by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda sufficiently answers the issue.

HB 3712, “Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016” proposes to declare the existence of traffic crisis; adopt a state policy to address it based on social justice constitutional provisions; grant the President emergency powers; mandate the formulation of a Decongestion and Transportation Network Development Reform Plan for all transport modes; designate a crisis manager; authorize special procurement modes; install safeguards through an EO on Freedom of Information and Congressional Oversight Committee; and provide an initial P20 billion from the current budget and national government savings for its implementation.

The emergency powers will be for three years to enable the Executive to solve the problems caused by the debilitating traffic chaos which commuters have dubbed as “Carmageddon” to describe their daily ordeals.

Salceda, House Appropriations and Ways and Means committees’ vice chair, HB 3712 “provides innovative, effective, swift answers that will stop the crisis from escalating and spreading to other urban hubs like Cebu and Davao, alleviate the situation, and prevent its recurrence.”

Under his emergency powers, the President “may reorganize and rationalize” the structures of transport-related government agencies, and authorize special modes of procurement, but with adequate safeguards.

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Heartfelt congratulations to newly appointed SBMA Chairman Martin Dino, “the man who took the first crucial steps that catapulted then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the Presidency.”

In 1986, when this columnist was then OIC-Mayor of Kalibo, Aklan, I worked with Mr. Dino and his team of political experts in conducting seminars and organizing the PDP-Laban in Aklan, at the behest of then DILG Secretary Nene Pimentel. (Johnny Dayang)

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