Arroyo drafts bill for Duterte’s emergency powers to address traffic jams

Arroyo drafts bill for Duterte’s emergency powers to address traffic jams

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has drafted a bill granting emergency powers to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to solve the worsening traffic condition in Metro Manila.

Arroyo, who won a third term as representative of Pampanga’s second district, justified her proposal by saying that the incoming administration could speed up economic growth by easing traffic congestion in the capital, which is costing the country billions of pesos daily in fuel cost, opportunities and labor productivity.

“One of the ways to speed up growth is to get infrastructure moving, either by government or by build-operate-transfer (BOT) or any of its variants,” Arroyo said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“Contractors would have to accelerate the implementation and completion of infrastructure projects in Metro Manila in order to decongest it,” she added.

Under Arroyo’s proposed Metro Manila Traffic Crisis Act of 2016, the national government will be allowed to enter into negotiated contracts for the construction, repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of critical infrastructure, projects and facilities subject to certain conditions.

Duterte will also be authorized to set a maximum internal rate of return of not more than 12 percent of the house-estimated project cost provided that any infrastructure project that has the capacity to yield such rate of return under commercial conditions may be undertaken on a BOT basis.

The measure also empowers the President-elect to reorganize the Metro Manila Development Authority “to make it more effective, innovative and responsive to the traffic crisis in Metro Manila.”

Duterte will be given the power to abolist or create offices; split, group or merge positions; transfer functions, equipment, properties, records and personnel; institute drastic traffic reduction measures and take other related actions as necessary.

While the MMDA’s reorganization shall not result in the diminution of the affected personnel’s current salaries and benefits, the President-elect may upgrade the compensation of employees involved in traffic reduction to take effect upon congressional approval of the agency’s budget for 2017.

Arroyo’s proposal also requires the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to set aside 10 percent of its annual aggregate gross earnings for the next five years as subsidy to MMDA, provided that such percentage allocation shall be based on gross revenue after deducting the five percent franchise tax and the 50 percent income share of the national government.

The lawmaker said the emergency powers granted to Duterte should last for two years from the time the proposal is approved by Congress.

Should the measure be passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, the President-elect will be required to submit a quarterly report to Congress on how the emergency powers were used.

An oversight committee shall also be created in each legislative chamber to monitor the implementation of the expanded authority that will be granted to Duterte.

Incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has said the next administration would ask Congress to grant Duterte emergency powers to fix what he believes to be a traffic crisis crippling Metro Manila.

Such an authority, if given by Congress, would allow the government to deal with the temporary restraining orders issued against government takeover of private property, open up private subdivisions to traffic, and skirt public bidding of road projects in favor of direct contracting. —NB, GMA News

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