MANILA, September 26, 2016 (PNA) — Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has filed House Bill 3712 which seeks to decisively solve the country’s debilitating traffic and congestion problem by declaring a “state of traffic and congestion crisis” and granting President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers and additional resources to address the “Carmageddon” within three years.
The bill seeks to give the President emergency powers “necessary and proper to effectively respond to multiple problems caused by the worsening and debilitating land and air traffic crisis in the country.”
The horrendous traffic and congestion problem, particularly in Metro Manila, is now referred to as “Carmageddon” by commuters to describe their daily ordeals.
HB 3712 titled “Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act of 2016” proposes to:
- declare the existence of traffic and congestion crisis;
- adopt state policy to address it based on the constitutional directive of promoting social justice;
- grant the President emergency powers to solve the crisis;
- mandate the formulation of a Decongestion and Transportation Network Development Reform Plan for four sectors: Land-based transport, Rail and Toll Roads, Air transport, and Seaports;
- designate the DOTr as crisis manager;
- authorize special modes of procurement;
- install safeguards through the Executive Order on Freedom of Information and a Congressional Oversight Committee; and
- provide an initial P20 billion for its implementation.
Salceda, vice chair of the House Committees on Appropriations and Ways and Means, said his bill “provides an answer, the necessary solution — an innovative, effective, swift, and never before seen solution — that will stop the crisis from escalating and spreading to other urban hubs like Cebu and Davao, alleviate the situation, and prevent its recurrence.”
He noted that the traffic crisis takes a heavy toll on the economy which now translates to billions of pesos in daily losses and has become so serious that conventional remedies have proven futile and ineffective.
“The problem has reached a point where the government is forced to think out of the box and to come up with a novel course of action,” he said.
Under his proposed emergency powers, the President “may reorganize and rationalize the existing structure of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Civil Aeronautics Board, Metro Manila Development Authority, PNP-Highway Patrol Group, and other agencies in the transportation sector.”
The bill also provides that within six months from its enactment, the President may:
- abolish, merge or create agencies, offices and positions;
- split, group, or merge positions;
- adopt a rationalization plan, transfer functions, equipment, properties, records and personnel;
- institute drastic cost-cutting measures; and
- take such other related actions necessary to carry out the declared State policy.
It also proposes to authorize special modes of procurement to immediately provide the facilities and infrastructures and cut through red tape, but “install safeguards through the implementation of EO on Freedom and Information and the creation of Congressional Oversight Committee.”
HB 3712 likewise provides an initial budget of P20 billion for the early phases of the program, sourced from the current year’s budget of agencies implementing the act, and from the savings of the national government.
In filing HB 3712, Salceda said woeful stories about commuters caught in Metro Manila’s traffic “are the stuff that Metro Manila traffic nightmares are made of.”
An economist, Salceda said there is no shortage of data and literature on Metro Manila’s traffic nightmare which, aside from the torture it imposes, has also taken serious effects on the economy.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said in a recently published report that land and air traffic congestion is costing the country a daily loss of P2.4 billion in potential income.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said this daily loss will balloon to P6 billion daily by 2030 if no interventions are undertaken.
JICA also reported that more cars on the road are causing a rise in greenhouse emissions from 4.7 million tons per year in 2012 to 5.72 million tons by 2030, causing a staggering cost in human health and climate change.
CAAP has reported that airport congestion is causing the airlines at least P7 billion per year in fuel and engine maintenance costs.
And to top it all off, international traffic software application Waze said Metro Manila had “the worst traffic in the world” in 2015.
Salceda said based on research, Metro Manila residents spend 1,000 hours in traffic per year while metropolitan areas in other countries spend only 300 hours.
He added that studies have clearly established that the massive and horrendous traffic congestion in the country has assumed the nature and magnitude of a national emergency, which requires immediate, decisive, and comprehensive solutions.
We do not lack daily reminders of how pervasive the traffic crisis has become. Traffic congestion is the perennial topic in TV, radio, and print news. Complaints and tirades are constantly trending in social media, and we hear personal stories of friends and family members missing out on their personal and professional lives, because they spend literally half of their day in cars, jeepneys, buses, and planes, wallowing in traffic,” Salceda said. (PNA)