Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday endorsed to the plenary the proposed emergency powers bill, which was requested by President Rodrigo Duterte to solve the country's transport woes.
Poe, Chair of the Senate public services committee, sponsored Senate Bill No. 1284 or An Act Compelling the Government to Address the Transportation and Congestion Crisis Through the Grant of Emergency Powers to the President.
In her sponsorship speech, she said that the traffic situation of the country has "assumed the nature and magnitude of a public calamity."
Poe said the Senate is expected to debate and put the bill to a vote when sessions resume in January next year but admitted that the bill "will not undergo smooth sailing."
The bill has already set the parameters on how to exercise the emergency powers. It covers Metro Manila and cities near the capital, Metro Cebu, and other highly urbanized cities and municipalities.
If approved, the measure will be valid and effective until the next adjournment of Congress-or in June 2019-unless sooner withdrawn by Congress.
There will also be a joint congressional oversight panel composed of both the Senate and House of Representatives members created to ensure that projects are closely monitored.
Under the expanded powers bill, the contracts shall be awarded only to contractors with proven competence and experience, qualified personnel, sufficient and reliable equipment and facilities and adequate capitalization.
It urges the use of alternative forms of working such as telecommuting, carpooling and ride-sharing schemes, flexible working hours and school days and staggered schedules of attendance.
The bill is a consolidation of various measures filed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon and Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito, Alan Peter Cayetano and Sherwin Gatchalian.
Input from all concerned government agencies, the academe, and stakeholders; and recommendations from transportation and urban planning experts were also took into consideration.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade previously vowed that emergency powers will be compliant with the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
Source: Philippines News Agency