Press Release
August 24, 2016


The Senate will resume its hearings on Thursday on the proposed emergency powers for President Duterte, even as committee chairperson Senator Grace Poe pressed the Transportation department to present to lawmakers detailed plans and projects to solve the transportation crisis gripping the metropolis and other urban areas.

Poe said her public services committee has scheduled the resumption of the public hearing at 10 a.m. at the Session Hall.

"The bottleneck will not be in the Senate because we will conduct hearings consistently. But when we asked the Department of Transportation--give us already, as early as now, while we are discussing the problems in the hearings--what your proposed projects are. There's none yet. Kahit na [sana] di pa kumpleto [ang mga plano]," Poe told a forum in Manila.

On Tuesday, Poe made an unannounced visit to the Southwest Integrated Provincial Terminal in Parañaque City, ahead of the resumption of the hearings, to witness firsthand the plight of commuters. She inspected its facilities and conversed with passengers to gain perspective of the current situation.

At a breakfast forum, Poe noted the sorry state of the terminal and its facilities, including dark and enclosed station areas that result in the containment of emissions from buses, lack of enough space for buses to maneuver that endangers safety of commuters, makeshift ladders used by passengers to gain access to the terminal, filthy walkway laden with hanging clothes, abandoned main waiting area due to unbearable temperature and water leaks from the rains, and small unsanitary restrooms, among others.

"It has always been my practice that before I conduct a hearing and discuss issues, I try to at least go to those places and physically feel it," added Poe.

Invited on Thursday's hearing are officials from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group, and stakeholders.

Poe noted that legislators were still not enlightened as to what specific projects that the government will pursue and hoped that the exhaustive public hearings will help push the government out of the present transportation woes.

"I am not afraid to grant emergency powers if I feel that we have the safeguards there. With those checklists, Congress has the power to withdraw it. So in my case, my conscience will be clear in granting it as long as I know that we have the necessary safeguards there," said Poe during a forum, referring to a proposed congressional oversight committee that will oversee the implementation of the emergency powers and will scrutinize contracts.

"As the chairperson of the Committee on Public Services in the Senate, we will invite private sector advisers that will be part of the oversight to look at the contracts. Kung ma-approve itong oversight, kasama po doon ang isang ex-Chief Justice na pwedeng tumingin, isang economist, at isang engineer na talagang alam ang mga kontratang 'yan. Hindi pwedeng lahat [sa panig ng] gobyerno lang," said Poe.

The DOTr has recently took over from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic management in Metro Manila, with the MMDA mainly tasked to focus on solid waste management, flood control projects and local government coordination.

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