Congress approves “Traffic Crisis Act”

From commons.wikimedia.org

From commons.wikimedia.org

As the traffic situation in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Davao City continues to worsen, the House committee on transportation has approved House Bill 4334 or the proposed “Traffic Crisis Act of 2016 Maki-isa, Makisama, Magka-isa.”

Authored by House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas and transportation committee chairman Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), the bill reportedly contains “the output of the marathon hearings conducted by the committee on various proposals to grant President Duterte emergency powers to ease traffic congestion.”

One of the most significant measures of the bill appoints the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as the Traffic Chief during the effectivity of the Act, “with full power and authority… to streamline the management of traffic and transportation and control road use in the identified Metropolitan Areas.”

As such, the Traffic Chief will supervise and control “all… executive agencies, bureaus and offices with roles pertaining to land transportation regulation,” namely the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority; the Philippine National Police-Traffic Management Group; the Land Transportation Office; the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board; the Road Board; the Davao Traffic Administrator; and the Cebu Coordinating Council which will be created under Section 9 of the Act. In addition, since the Traffic Chief serves as an alter ego of the President, it means he or she shall supervise all local government units within the metropolitan areas.

Beyond overseeing the various agencies and offices involved in land transportation, the Traffic Chief will also “formulate, coordinate, and monitor policies, standards, programs and projects to rationalize existing public transport operations, infrastructure requirements, the use of thoroughfares, safe movement of persons and goods, the administration and implementation of all traffic enforcement operations, traffic engineering services, and traffic education programs.”

Other than appointing a Traffic Chief, several amendments to the bill were also proposed such as:

• The expansion of the composition of Metro Cebu, to include adjacent cities/municipalities;
• The need for more elevated crosswalks and clearing of sidewalks;
• The admissibility of digital photos as basis for traffic reports, investigation and insurance coverage/claims;
• The exemption from the Supreme Court’s issuance of temporary restraining orders (TROs) and the setting up of special traffic crisis courts that will issue such; and
• The speedy resolution of cases in court, without undermining the independence of constitutional bodies.

“By participating and uniting, we can bring about the change we have so long wanted over the years as regards our daily mobility,” said Sarmiento. “By committing to this resolution until the end of this year, we can achieve great things.”

So, if this is passed into law, we figure the business card most motorists would love to have in their wallet would that be of DOTr Secretary Arthur P. Tugade.