House consolidates proposals to grant President emergency powers

The House Committee on Transportation approved on Wednesday the creation of a technical working group (TWG) or subcommittee that will draw up the substitute bill to the 10 bills filed by House members, the proposal of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other proposals all seeking to grant President Duterte emergency powers to address the traffic crisis.

The committee chaired by Rep. Cesar Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes) approved the motion raised by Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) seeking to create the TWG or subcommittee during the panel's second hearing on the emergency powers issue.

"It has been moved and seconded that we create a TWG that will harmonize and consolidate all the proposals and come up with a substitute bill for consideration by the mother committee and then for consideration in the plenary debate," said Sarmiento.

Sarmiento said he will likely head the TWG for continuity and speed in drawing up the emergency powers substitute bill.

Sarmiento said since committee hearings in the House are suspended from Sept. 26 to Oct. 7, 2016 to give way to the plenary deliberations on the 2017 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), then the TWG will be able to start holding meetings after this period.

"After Oct. 7, that will be the time the TWG can meet and invite resource persons. Before the congressional break on Oct. 22, we will meet and then present to the mother committee what we've agreed upon," said Sarmiento.

Sarmiento expressed hope the TWG will be done with the substitute bill by November and be able to present the measure to the committee on transportation. He said the bill will subsequently be referred to the committee on appropriations because of the funding component.

The 10 bills seeking to grant the President with emergency powers are: House Bill 3 filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo FariAas, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, Rolando Andaya, Jr., Michael John Duavit, Carlos Cojuangco, Elisa Kho, Benhur Salimbagon, and Rodel Batocabe; HB 38 by Rep. Arthur Yap; HB 119 by Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu; HB 554 by Reps. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Bayani Fernando; HB 1315 by Rep. Winston Castelo; HB 1666 by Rep. Strike Revilla; HB 3048 by Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano; HB 3162 by Rep. Gus Tambunting; HB 3314 by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas; and HB 3442 by Reps. Evelina Escudero and Maria Vida Espinosa.

The emergency powers proposal has been included in the legislative agenda of Speaker Alvarez for the 17th Congress.

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 23 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, the Speaker said HB 3 seeks to authorize the President to exercise emergency powers necessary and proper to effectively respond to the multiple problems caused by the worsening and debilitating land and air traffic crisis in the country.

Last Sept. 5, the DOTr, through Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Garry de Guzman, submitted its own draft emergency powers bill and the list of sectoral projects that the agency will implement to address the traffic and congestion crisis.

Per the report of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) dated Sept. 2, 2014, the country loses P2.4 billion per day or the equivalent of $51 million per day in potential income as a result of traffic congestion problems and lost productivity.

Source: Philippine Information Agency