Press Release
July 27, 2016

Press Statement of Senate Minority Leader Ralph G. Recto

Emergency powers to solve traffic in mega Manila and urban centers must abide by the following principles

1. Information regarding all programs and projects, especially contracts that will require sovereign guarantees, must be FOI-compliant. Part of the government's reportorial duties to the public is the setting up of a website that will contain all up-to-date information related to projects being implemented pursuant to such emergency powers.

2. Projects must be approved by the NEDA Board, which is chaired by the President himself.

3. Projects must comply with the standards of accountability and transparency, consumer rights, affordability, public access, safety, and security.

There must be safeguards to protect public interest

1. Whenever applicable, the implementing agency shall assess the affordability of fee or tariff, and conduct a willingness-to-pay survey and consultation among the users of the infrastructure facility.

2. The implementing agency shall post in its website the approved starting fare or user fee in a project, as well as the approved parametric formula on fare increases or adjustments, if applicable.

3. The ill-conceived "premium payment" scheme wherein private bidders outbid themselves in offering funds on top of project cost must be dropped as it would just inflate cost and punish the consumers as the premium paid will be recouped in higher user charges.

Not all solutions to the traffic crisis require cement; many simply entail common sense and political will

1. Traffic rules must be implemented without fear or favor. Road obstructions must be cleared. Widened roads should not end up as parking spaces or adhoc PUV terminals.

2. There must be a campaign to observe road discipline. On this, the PNP should fill the 24,000 vacant positions in its organization and assign those hired to traffic management duties.

3. Traffic has become a macroeconomic assumption of the 2017 national budget. Projects to ease traffic must be grouped under one cluster. Government should also introduce legislation converting Road User Tax collections into a Special Mass Transit Support Fund.

The PPP bill has excellent provisions which can be incorporated into the emergency powers law

1. 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 franchise, license or permit, subject to submission by the project proponent of the requirements by the regulator or licensing authority. Failure to act on a proper and complete application within 30 days from receipt would mean that it is deemed approved.

2. No temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory injunction shall be issued by any court, except the Supreme Court, against any implementing agency, its officials or employees, or any person or entity, whether public or private acting under the government direction, to restrain, prohibit or compel the following acts:

a. Bidding, rebidding or declaration of failure of bidding of projects, either national or local;

b. Qualification or disqualification of bidders;

c. Awarding of contract;

d. Acquisition, clearance, development of the right-of-way, site or location of any PPP project;

e. Construction, operation and maintenance of a project;

f. Commencement, execution, implementation, termination or rescission of any PPP contract; and

g. The transfer of ownership of infrastructure facility to the implementing agency shall be exempt from capital gains tax, documentary stamp tax, donor's tax, and all national taxes and fees related to the transfer thereof.

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