Press Release
September 22, 2016

Emergency Powers Hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services

This is the third joint public hearing of the Committee on Public Services, the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, and the Committee on Finance on the various bills granting the President emergency powers to solve the transportation crisis in urban centers.

We also conducted a technical working group (TWG) meeting last September 8, which was a marathon 6-hour multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary Technical Working Group review of the particulars of the various proposals submitted so far.

We convened the TWG because we have to sift through the trove of accumulated suggestions and identify which could be included in the consolidated bill. We also gave the sectors a chance to speak and voice out their comments and suggestion on and for or apprehension on the emergency powers.

So far, in the course of five weeks, we have listened to the presentation of 53 resource persons. The committee is also in receipt of 62 written submissions, proving that inputs, as promised, are indeed crowdsourced. My purpose in giving you the present coordinates of our journey is to give us all an idea of the work that lies ahead. We are approaching the last mile so it would be best to chart the remaining course so we can finish on schedule and endorse the bill for plenary debate.

Let me point out that just recently, it was reported that the MRT broke down during rush hour not once, not twice, but thrice. Some would say that this is enough reason to immediately grant emergency powers. People are becoming impatient and if only I had a magic wand to solve traffic problems, I would. But as I have said during the previous hearings and during my interviews, we owe it the people, to make sure that the powers granted to the executive will not be to the people's disadvantage.

Metro Manila residents spend 1,000 hours a year in traffic, while other countries in the world spend only 300 hours. Nakapagpadala na tayo ng satellite sa space, nakapagpanalo na tayo ng kaso sa Arbitral Tribunal, pero ang isang pang-araw-araw na problema tulad ng trapiko ay hindi pa rin nasosolusyunan. However, our traffic woes should not be used as a blanket excuse to grant emergency powers without making sure that these powers are FOI-compliant, time-bound, fiscally-responsible, detailed, and particular.

For the bill to be ready for the plenary debate, these are the things we must do: First, for purposes of clarity and cohesion, let us place all the DOTr proposals in three boxes: Policies, Programs, and Projects. You may call that segmentation P-P-P, but that I think is the best way to distill the proposals into general categories.

Halimbawa ng policies ay iyung Central Traffic Authority, iyung pagbago ng batas, at pagtayo ng bagong administrative structures, or the redefinition of the relations among agencies. Kasama din dito ang procurement reforms.

Sa programs naman ay yung mga kampanya o gawain na pwedeng ipailalim sa isang tema o subject. Halimbawa, programa sa road discipline. Programa sa paghabol ng mga colurum na sasakyan.

The third P are projects, mostly sunk-in-the ground public works, like the infra catalogue that the DOTr has submitted to us.

Second, as we classify all activities into the three, let us identify the time it would take to complete them: short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Let us label which are immediately doable, and which would require long-term gestation. Which of the cures bring fast-acting relief, and which require years of application. For sure, subway is a next decade undertaking so do the various light rail lines. What railways are next generation? The BRT siguro can ground-break before 2020. Plates can be delivered within two years. Ilagay natin sa timetable. Removing perpetually parked cars along major roads, however, is something that should have been done yesterday.

This brings me to an important point. Gusto ko pong ipagdiinan ito. Our meetings should not only provide you, in government, with the venue to tell us what you are dreaming of, but, importantly, what you have been doing.

Sa madaling salita, hindi lang drawing ang gusto naming makita, pero kung ano na ang mga nagawa at ginagawa. Alam ko na si (MMDA) GM Orbos nung pumunta kami sa Southwest terminal, kaagad-aad, nilinis, inayos, nilagyan ng ilaw, kulang pa rin, pero nakikita natin may pag-asa sa isang namumuno ng ahensya nap ag kinausap at nakinig, meron namang magagawang panandaiang solusyon. Maraming salamat, Sir.

Sa madaling salita, importante rin na dilang nakaupo tayo pero iyong mga projects thatw e have commenced should be presented to the public. Ito iyong sinasabi nilang low-hanging fruits which may not eliminate the problem but, at least ease the pain they cause.

Isang halimbawa dito yung simpleng passenger comfort measures sa MRT. Yung paglagay ng ilaw sa underpass, iyung pagtanggal ng mga iligal na terminal na nakabalandra sa mga intersections. Alam n'yo, we are lowering the bar of performance but small victories raise our hopes that you can do the things you have promised.

The third thing we must do is identify the funding sources of the proposed programs, policies and projects. Our committee received just last night your revised proposal, so we didn't really have that much time to go through it, but we thank you for identifying the sources of funding for each project, however I would also like to know if we have enough funding for projects that will be sourced from the special power budget.

For those under PPP, can you kindly tell me how far are they into the PPP pipeline? For those that will be financed by ODA, have these been vetted by NEDA, and approved by the NEDA Board?

Basically, will these latter be backed up by legal tender? Halimbawa, anu-ano sa mga proyekto ang may multi-year obligational authority from the DBM?

We are now in the midst of the budget season, so I would like to hear from you the projects which have been included in the 2017 general appropriations. There should be an interface between the 2017 GAA and your proposed projects. The national budget must reflect your wish-list, because if these projects are not manifested in next year's spending program, then they remain pipe dreams.

Alam nyo ho ba kung bakit ko ginigiit ito? Simple lang. Because with great emergency powers come great fiscal responsibility. These projects will incur expenses beyond our means to raise. To realize them, we have to mortgage our children's future, and perhaps take a second mortgage on our apo.

Kaya gusto kong malaman kung ang mga gagastusin ay factored-in sa tax reform program ng administrasyon. Is the cost of abating traffic computed into the new revenues that must be raised?

Para makaumpisa na tayo, uulitin ko po ang tatlong artikulo na dapat nating gawin para matapos na sa komite ang pagbalangkas ng panukalang batas na ito. Tutal showbiz naman background ko daw, let me be slightly cinematic about it:

Artikulo Uno: Para maging klaro at iwasan ang pagkalito, ating uriin o i-klasipika ang mga polisiya, programa, at proyekto na nais niyong ipatupad o kasalukuyan nang pinapatupad.

Artikulo Dos: Ihiwalay natin ang mga polisiya, programa at proyekto batay sa prayoridada at tagal ng implementasyon - short term, medium term, at long term.

Artikulo Tres: Tukuyin kung saan manggagaling ang pondo: national budget, PPP, ODA o utang at alin dito ang pwede ng ipatupad nang walang emergency powers.

Gentlemen and ladies, it is now time to flesh out these concepts into clear-cut proposals. We have entered the phase of our hearing when we have discussed the legislative language of your proposals. Pero meron pa tayong isang unfinished business - ang marinig ang mahalagang boses ng lokal na pamahalaan na maapektuhan dito.

Their presence is important because we would like to know how the proposed single traffic authority would impact on the roles and responsibilities of local governments.

Specifically, for Metro Manila, what powers of local governments will be rationalized or reduced or recalibrated? I am asking you this because of the inconvenient truth that management of Metro Manila has been balkanized. Nowhere is this more evident than on its most congested artery, EDSA. This 23-kilometer road passes through six local governments with its own set of rules and own set of enforcers.

One good thing about this hearing is that it gives us the opportunity to revisit MMDA's powers. You and I agree that this 30-plus-year experiment needs an updated 2016 operating system.

[Acknowledgement of guests] Let us begin.

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