Efforts to address transportation and congestion crisis make progress in Senate

 A priority bill of the government moves forward in the Senate

The Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016 (Senate Bill 1284), which aims to grant emergency powers to the President or his designated staff to utilize all necessary government resources, exercise power fully, and employ measures intended to directly address the traffic and congestion crisis, is currently on second reading and undergoing a series of interpellations. The bill was sponsored by the Chair of the Committee on Public Services Senator Grace Poe.

As of February 13, 2017, Senators Leila De Lima, JV Ejercito, Joel Villanueva, and Senate Majority Leader Franklin Drilon have given their respective interpellations on the aforementioned bill.

While the three senators have expressed their interest to propose several amendments to the bill, Senator JV Ejercito stressed during his interpellation the need to improve the country’s internet connectivity and explore alternative forms of work like telecommuting to minimize traffic congestion.

Should the emergency powers be granted, Senator Poe stated that the government would be able to secure right-of way properties that would facilitate the construction of infrastructure projects without having to go through tedious process if planning and securing the necessary permits. Short term-projects would also impact and benefit more from the proposed measure.

The powers to be granted would only be good for the remaining years of the 17th Congress, hence the urgency of the bill’s passage being pushed.

Nine similar bills by Representatives Michelle Antonio (AGBIAG Party List), Joey Salceda (2nd District, Albay), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Jose Christopher Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), Gus Tambunting (2nd District, Parañaque), Pia Cayetano (2nd District, Taguig City-Pateros), Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), and Arthur Yap (3rd District, Bohol), including HB00003 principally authored by Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farrñas Ilocos Norte’s 1st District have been filed in the House of Representatives.

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