Press Release
September 13, 2019


Standing pat on her position, Sen. Grace Poe says she is not against emergency powers that is backed by a well-studied master plan.

Even without it, Poe says there are measures that can be carried out to improve mass transport system, while there are laws and policies to speed up government projects to alleviate the woes of the Filipino commuters and motorists.

Below is her statement.

Let me stress that I am not against emergency powers. In fact, granting it does not solely rely on me. I am just one vote in the Senate. Like my colleagues, I have to be convinced why it is needed.

I am for anything that will solve traffic. We are all victims of this. I am for it if it is guaranteed that they have a plan. For you to give something as immense as the emergency powers, you have to be sniper accurate, it cannot be a shotgun approach. It's like giving a loaded gun to a child if they don't have a plan. If they come up with the traffic plan and deliver on the projects that they should have delivered years ago, traffic situation would have been better.

There are already several laws in place to address the legal matters, such as procurement and right-of-way.

One, we have RA 9184 which already gives them alternative modes of procurement and limits the period to just 3 to 6 months.

Two, we have the President's own Executive Order 34 which allows agencies to directly avail of alternative modes of procurement such as direct contracting, repeat order, or negotiated procurement without having to get an exemption from the Government Procurement Policy Board.

Three, for right-of-way acquisition, RA 10752 has a clear expedited procedure that sets the negotiated sale for just 30 days, and if that fails, the expropriation case soon after for which Writ of Possession must be issued after seven days from deposit.

Four, they cannot be hiding behind court delays because the Supreme Court already reiterated its marching orders in OCA (Office of the Court Administrator) Circular 113-2019 which reiterates the following rule:

a. It is ministerial upon the court to issue the Writ of Possession within seven days from the deposit of 100% of the zonal valuation according to BIR.

b. The judge cannot order further hearings on the property value (thus delaying the issuance of the Writ of Possession).

Five, on top of all of these, we have RA 8795 which prohibits lower courts from issuing a TRO/injunction on government ROW/procurement projects.

Without emergency powers, a lot can still be done.

One, come January, the NLEX-SLEX connector road will be completed at least by the first quarter, that should take away a hundred thousand cars that will have to ply through EDSA.

Two, another thing that we can do, deliver on the trains that were promised. We have 48 Dalian trains, according to the DOTr, but not one is operational. The test run should have been done early this year, but it's now September. It should not take too long for the new provider to determine the maintenance requirements of the trains.

DOTr, if it wants to, can very much function without more powers. The purchase of multi-million critical spare parts for the MRT via direct contracting and negotiated procurement proves that procurement is possible in urgent cases even without emergency powers.

In fact they have engaged in several emergency procurement for the MRT without going through a bidding process.

Three, as for the LRT-1, they recently broke ground. If that's up and running, that's thousands of passengers that will have 25 minutes travel time to Bacoor as opposed to more than an hour or two hours.

Most importantly, coordination among transportation agencies, the MMDA, local government units and concerned stakeholders should be on a regular basis, so that one will know what the other is doing or plans to do to mitigate the situation on the road.

While we look for quick fixes, let us not lose sight of the fact that still the best way to decongest our roads is to have mass transport system that will encourage people to leave their cars at home. That's why we said we need to see the master plan.

It is not the lack of powers, but the lack of a master plan and more aggressive action from the DOTr that bears emphasizing.

We can give all the powers they want but if they have no master plan, they will just end up wasting money or, worse, still not being able to achieve anything.

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