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Cayetano: give the President emergency powers vs traffic, congestion ASAP
 
Stressing that a bold and swift solution is needed to address the country's worsening traffic and congestion problem, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano urged his colleagues in Congress to speed up the passage of a bill granting emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve the crisis.
 
In an interview with ANC's Headstart on Friday (August 12), the senator said he expects that the President will be granted emergency powers by the end of September or before Congress goes on a legislative break.
 
"Sana before the end of September (a bill has been enacted already). That will be more than enough time for both Houses to put the proper safeguards," Cayetano said. "We should not overcomplicate it. We should put it this way. Everyday na hindi natin ibigay ang emergency powers, it's another day of traffic and gridlock," he added.
 
Cayetano said fast-tracking an emergency measure such as this is doable, as it was done during the time of former President Fidel Ramos. During Ramos' term, it took Congress only 12 days to enact a law that granted the president emergency powers to address the country's energy crisis.
 
Last Monday (August 8), Cayetano filed Senate Bill No. 999 or the "Freedom from Traffic and Congestion Act of 2016," which seeks to give emergency powers to the President as well as to heads of executive agencies related to the transportation sector, authorizing them to utilize necessary resources and employ executive actions to resolve the crisis.
 
Through his bill, Cayetano aims to end not just the traffic and congestion mess in Metro Manila, but also in all other highly urbanized areas that experience the same problem, including the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Metro Cebu.
 
"In many urban areas, in two to three years, the traffic situation could worsen. Huwag na nating antaying magka-problema pa saka natin gagamutin," he said.
 
Cayetano also stressed the need to ensure proper coordination among the national and local government units to harmonize traffic regulations in the country as well as to prevent the delay in the construction of infrastructure projects.
 
"There should only be one policy. In Metro Manila, for instance, may city na iba ang coding (system) sa MMDA, may city na iba ang policies. Kaya kung ikaw ang driver, nakakalito talaga. So in giving the President and the executive branch (emergency) powers, let us harmonize all procedures. Kapag sinabing sa main road, walang tricycle, walang paparada, (it should be applicable to all)," he explained.
 
Meanwhile, the senator said a long-term solution should be put in effect to end the perennial traffic problem in NCR. Among his proposals is to decongest the overcrowded capital by moving some departments to other regions, like the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to Clark, Pampanga.
 
"It is not only a problem of traffic, it is a problem of congestion. There are 19,137 people per square kilometer in Metro Manila. In the other regions, there are only less than 1,000 per square kilometer each, " he said as he pointed out the need to decongest NCR not only to prevent traffic jams, but also to spur development in areas outside the capital.

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