Press Release
October 4, 2016


Senator Grace Poe said the Senate committee on public services has decided to hold a fourth public hearing on Oct. 12 on the proposed emergency powers to solve the traffic crisis, in a bid to further clarify the government's plan to implement critical transportation projects.

This extends the public hearing by the committee, following the request of some senators to continue with the same to be able to further inquire on the Department of Transportation's (DOTr's) plans.

The public services committee has earlier decided to conclude the hearings after a third hearing on the emergency powers last Sept. 22, to be followed by technical working group meetings towards crafting a committee report on the measure.

The Senate has invited key Cabinet members led by DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade, Public Works Sec. Mark Villar, Department of Information and Communications Technology Sec. Rodolfo Salalima and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority General Manager Thomas Orbos.

"In the interest of transparency, and as requested by the Minority Leader, we will be conducting a fourth hearing to give the DOTr an opportunity to present in detail how they plan to implement certain projects and an opportunity to explain why some of their projects, which apparently have nothing to do with traffic decongestion, are included in their proposals," said Poe at the European Union (EU)-Philippines Business Summit transport forum organized by the EU and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

For one, Poe said the panel wants to be apprised on two proposed bus rapid transit system projects to traverse Manila City Hall to Quezon City and another from EDSA to Ayala and Ortigas to NAIA and cost about P44.23 billion, which are expected to be implemented in three years with the extra powers.

Further, the committee is seeking clarification why the proposed list of port projects submitted by the DOTr to the Senate only included Manila ports and did not include any proposed project for Subic and Batangas ports.

"Our traffic problems are by no means confined to land-based transportation. We also have to deal with port congestion resulting in slower movement of goods by sea, and air traffic problems causing flight delays," said Poe.

"It is incumbent upon us to extensively scrutinize the DOTr's plans to ensure that these will have direct impact on the alleviation of transport woes," Poe told the forum.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency, one of the Philippines' major official development assistance partners, estimated that daily gridlock cost the economy approximately P2.4 billion in 2012 and that losses could worsen to P6 billion by 2030 if the government fails to provide immediate relief to motorists and commuters.

"If I could describe the traffic problem in the Philippines in word it is this: Paralysis. Traffic paralyzes us. It is no wonder that we lose approximately P3 billion a day, with Metro Manila residents spending 1,000 hours a year in traffic, while other countries in the world spend only 300 hours," she added.

Poe acknowledged that traffic had impaired workers' productivity and left irreversible impacts on health and the economy.

"Like our countrymen, I too, wish to experience an improved transportation system within my lifetime," Poe said.

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