The proposed emergency powers sought by the Executive to solve traffic could clear roadblocks in completing the common station project that has been delayed for several years, Senator Grace Poe said today.
In a television interview, Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services and principal sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1284 or the proposed Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act, said the government and the private sector could invoke some provisions in the emergency powers measure to avoid delays in the construction of the common station project that would connect three elevated urban railways–LRT-1, EDSA MRT-3 and the proposed MRT-7. The emergency powers bill is currently being deliberated upon in Senate plenary.
“It [emergency powers] will help… because I think there’s also certain rights-of-way acquisition. It will prevent the lower courts from issuing temporary restraining orders and injunctions. It will harmonize the laws of the local governments units when it comes to traffic to be under the traffic czar. And it will also allow the government to get into a specialized form of procurement like negotiated procurement,” Poe told ANC’s Headstart.
Construction of the 13,700-sqm common station project, which costs P2.8 billion, is expected to start in December and to be completed in April 2019.
Poe said allowing only the High Court to issue injunctions would “discourage the not very serious contenders” and those who would deliberately delay the common station project.
According to Poe, the bill’s provision on negotiated procurement would allow the proper maintenance of the trains since “only a few players” have the financial and technical capability.
“This is very important because in maintaining the trains, you only have a few players that are capable enough to maintain those trains. So, you need negotiated procurement because they have the technical, legal and financial capability,” she added.
The senator likewise called on her colleagues to fast-track deliberations on the bill and finally put the measure to a vote to enable the government to start with critical infrastructure projects and provide relief to the public.
“I would also like to appeal to my colleagues. Of course, all the bills that we are deliberating here are of national importance. But it defeats the purpose of giving an emergency power if we do not prioritize this. I think that with all the other concerns that we have, it is my hope that we will be able to deliberate on this at the soonest possible time and finish it already. So, anybody who would like to manifest or question [the provisions of the bill] is highly encouraged to do so at the soonest possible time so we can close the period of interpellations,” Poe said in Monday’s plenary session.