Updated @ 11:31 p.m., Sept. 10, 2019
MANILA, Philippines — With traffic woes gripping Metro Manila, what the country needs is “a better leadership” at the helm of traffic agencies, Sen. Grace Poe said told reporters on Tuesday after a Senate hearing on the provincial bus ban along Edsa.
“I think that a better leadership probably in agencies that have to deal with traffic is what we need,” Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services,” said.
“Can you imagine? The one who submitted a traffic plan is a member of Congress,” Poe said in Filipino. “I mean, are we experts in that field? Is that our job? Shouldn’t it be they doing that?”
Poe was referring to a traffic plan presented by Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, chair of the House transportation panel, who proposed a centralized synchornized and predictable bus dispatching system.
During the hearing, Poe and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade clashed over the need to grant the President emergency powers to address the monstrous traffic congestion in Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare.
Asked whether Tugade should be removed from his post, Poe said that would be the prerogative of the President.
“But as Sen. [Ralph] Recto or Sen. [Franklin] Drilon said earlier: ‘Do we lack experts in the DOTr [Department of Transportation]?’ And the secretary [Tugade] himself said : Yes.” the senator said.
Meanwhile, Poe took note of Tugade’s supposed lack of effort come to the Senate and lobby for the proposed granting of emergency powers to the President.
She said that several bills certified as urgent all passed through the Senate, citing as an example the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
“Secretary [Carlos] Dominguez is always here to talk with us about this TRAIN. On the other hand, you [Tugade] seldom appear here to talk with us to say: ‘This is what really need.’ So sometimes we think this [failure to give emergency powers] is just being used as an excuse because there could find no solutions,” Poe said in Filipino during the hearing.
But Tugade defended himself and said there were “valid excuses” as to why he was not able to lobby for the proposed grant of emergency powers.
“If we have failed to come here, it’s not because we don’t want to talk. There are instances sometimes when we have valid excuses and I can present a chronology of conflicts,” he said.
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