Plans first before powers.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said the congressional grant of emergency presidential powers to solve the national transportation problem hinges on the presentation of “clear-cut” plans by Malacañang.
Recto said the “dimension of the emergency powers” will be based “on the problems to be solved, the specific solutions, the cost of each, and the timetable for their completion.”
“Details will play a major role in defining the scope of the emergency powers,” he added.
Recto said there has long been a bipartisan consensus to arm Malacañang with special powers to end the crippling traffic choking Metro Manila, Cebu and other urban centers.
“Walang question doon. Ang pag-uusapan na lang, sa tingin ko, ang safeguards and parameters,” Recto said.
One “important guide” senators will use in defining the powers refers to the protection of public interest, he added.
He said if some of the projects on the drawing board will be implemented through a public-private partnership scheme, “the minority would insist that the public be consulted on the projected fare or toll.”
“The government must assess the affordability of fee or tariff, and conduct a willingness-to-pay survey and consultation among the users of the infrastructure facility,” Recto said.
This will include starting fare or user fee in a project, as well as the approved formula on fare increases or adjustments, he said.
Recto said the ill-conceived “premium payment” scheme should likewise be dropped as it jacks up cost.
“It punishes the consumers as the premium paid will be recouped through higher user charges. The government has no business profiting from a project, by collecting a fee in advance,” he said.
Recto said government representatives in tomorrow’s hearings on the proposed emergency powers must also present doable solutions to the transportation crisis, “ones that don’t require special powers to solve, just the aggressive application of laws.”
“Not all solutions to the traffic crisis require cement. Many simply entail common sense and political will. Hindi lahat ng solusyon ay nangangailangan ng semento. Ang iba sentido-kumon lang,” he said.
“Traffic rules must be implemented without fear or favor. Road obstructions must be cleared. Widened roads should not end up as parking spaces,” he said.
Recto also called for the filling of 24,000 vacant positions in the national police and the assignment of the recruits to traffic management.
Because “traffic has become a macroeconomic assumption of the 2017 national budget”, Recto said projects to ease traffic must be grouped under one cluster in the first national budget the Duterte administration will send to Congress.
To raise funds, Recto called on the government to support legislation which seeks to earmark a portion of Road User Tax collections into a Special Mass Transit Support Fund.
The senator pointed out that one non-emergency power scheme that can rush the construction of needed public works is the cutting of bureaucratic red tape.
“One is the automatic grant of government permits and licenses. It shall be mandatory on the part of the regulator or licensing authority to accept and approve the application for administrative license and permits within 30 days from receipt or the application is deemed approved,” Recto said.
Frivolous judicial roadblocks must also be cleared, he added.
“No temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory injunction shall be issued by any court, except the Supreme Court, against any implementing agency, to restrain, prohibit or compel certain acts crucial to project implementation,” Recto said.
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