Press Release
October 31, 2019

SP Sotto gives public safety bill another push

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III has re-filed his pet bill, the proposed Public Safety Act, hoping it would be enacted into law in the current 18th Congress.

Sotto's Senate Bill No. 239 seeks to institutionalize a Department of Public Safety (DPS) in every province, city and municipality, providing a fully functional emergency response and traffic management system.

Considering that the local government units (LGUs) are at the frontline in providing the needed services of their constituents, the Senate leader emphasized the need to ensure public safety at the local level.

"The proposed measure will augment law enforcement, oversee the operations of private security agencies and security guards, clear sidewalks and public spaces of obstruction and mitigate the effects of disasters and calamities," said Sotto.

"This measure also allows for contiguous municipalities and cities to jointly establish collective command and control centers and emergency response and management systems pending the ability of certain municipalities and cities to establish their own independent centers and systems," he added.

Under SB 239, the DPS, which would be under the direct control and supervision of the provincial governor, city or municipal mayor, shall be tasked to implement public order and safety laws and ordinances, in conjunction with the police and other national law enforcement agencies.

It will establish, maintain and operate a central command and control center and emergency response and management system that will monitor and respond to various contingencies in which emergency resources of the government are required by the constituents.

The DPS will also augment auxiliary traffic services, issue temporary terminal permits to public utility vehicles and manage public utility terminals and issue traffic clearance certificates to business establishments.

It shall also have the power to clear sidewalks, public parks and other public areas of obstructions such as unauthorized structures or fixtures and unlicensed vendors.

Further, the DPS shall monitor, supervise and issue security clearances and business or work permits to private security agencies and security guards.

The DPS will take the lead in organizing plans and carrying out evacuation, rescue and relief operations during disasters, calamities and civil disturbances.

Sotto said the creation of DPS in every province, city and municipality will further enhance the LGUs' capability to effectively and respond timely to the constituents' needs and meet the demand for greater safety and security, better local traffic management and enhanced disaster preparedness and response.

The worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila alone now costs P3.5 billion in lost opportunities per day and can get worse to P5.4 billion if interventions will not be made, Sotto said, citing the studies conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), on the other hand, noted the increasing number of deaths due to road crash since 2006, Sotto said.

On top of these, Sotto also pointed out that the public also suffers financially in instances of deaths, injuries and damage to property due to crime and natural or man-made disasters and calamities.

"Many of such losses may be prevented by a more responsive and better prepared government at the local level. A proactive local approach can be part of a broader and more comprehensive solution to the challenges that the country confronts in areas of public order and safety," Sotto said.

The Senate chief started to steer the passage of the bill during the third regular session of the 17th Congress.

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