DOTr defends bid to grant emergency powers to Duterte

Maris Federez   •   September 5, 2019   •   951

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Thursday (Sept. 5) appealed to the House of Representatives (HOR) to grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte.

This is to give the government more latitude in addressing the traffic problems, particularly in Metro Manila.

While DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade agrees to the lawmakers that several traffic strategies can be implemented even without any grant of emergency powers to the executive, he said such implementation will be slow and might not still be completed even after their term in office has ended.

Tugade further said government projects that are aimed at solving the traffic problems in the country may even be stalled by the long processes in the bureaucracy and even by some laws, such as, on the Right of Way.

To which some members of the House disagree.

“In other countries, no emergency powers were granted to the executive to solve the traffic congestion,” said Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman.

Tugade, on the other hand, said, “emergency power is not forever. It has a defined time. In fact, sinasabi ho namin noon at uulitin ko ngayon, yung emergency power noon was between two to three years kung naibigay ho noon yan [we’d been saying ever since, and I’m saying it again, the emergency powers (we’ve been asking then) was between two and three years, if it had been granted then].”

Earlier on Thursday, the DOTr presented to the House their P147-billion proposed budget for 2020.

A major portion of this will be allocated to the railway sector with P108-billion budget, or equivalent to 98.78% of the department’s total budget.

The department believes that improving the railway sector will be a big help in easing the transportation problems not just in Metro Manila but in other key areas in the country as well. (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

DOTr boosts testing capacity in NAIA as OFWs return for the holidays

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 17, 2020

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has boosted its One-Stop-Shop as more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) return home for the holidays.

DOTr’s Office for the Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator Usec. Raul Del Rosario said this is to prevent the previous inconvenience caused by delayed COVID-19 test results.

Based on the OTS data, an estimated 5,000 OFWs arrive in the Philippines every day during the holidays.

Del Rosario also said additional Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel were deployed.

The One-Stop-Shop partnered with four COVID-testing laboratories to accommodate more OFWs.

Nagkaroon kami ng commitment among these laboratories, nag-commit sila na 24 hours ilalabas nila ang result at walang lalagpas ng 48 hours (We had a commitment among these laboratories. They committed to release the results in 24 hours and not exceeding 48 hours),” he said.

The One-Stop-Shop can process 10,000 swab tests per day, Del Rosario added.

Aside from the laboratories, there are also 21,000 slots available in hotels where OFWs can stay while waiting for their COVID-19 test results. -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Senate to begin probe on RFID cashless system on Dec. 17

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 14, 2020

The Senate will begin its investigation on the Toll Regulatory Board’s radio frequency identification (RFID) cashless system on Thursday (December 17), after its implementation caused heavy traffic along North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Public Services Committee, said they have also summoned the Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to provide an explanation on how to address the congestion amid the RFID implementation.

The committee will also look into the complaints about malfunctioning RFID readers.

“Nais nating maayos ang sitwasyon para sa ating mga kababayan, na hindi naman sila napeperwisyo at nahihirapang pumila doon at nakababad ng matagal. Pangalawa, nais nating malaman ano ba talaga ang naging dahilan kung bakit hindi maayos ang pagpapatakbo nito (We want to fix the situation for our fellowmen and spare them the inconvenience of queueing for hours. Secondly, we want to know the real reason for the lapses in its implementation),” she said in a statement. 

Poe said the cashless system should provide ease of travel for motorists along expressways as well as prevent them from getting infected with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker is also eyeing temporarily suspending the full implementation of the RFID cashless system. AAC

Senate to summon DOTr Sec. Tugade over RFID issues

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel on Thursday said it will summon Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to answer questions relating to the issues on the implementation of the cashless collection system in tollways which began on December 1.

Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, said she has filed a resolution urging the DOTr to revisit its order and suspend the implementation of full cashless toll transactions which has snarled traffic in toll plazas.

“Today iniikot na ang resolution na ‘yan galing sa committee ko. Narinig ko na kay Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, na isa sa mga naunang naghain niyan, na susuportahan nga niya itong tawag na ito. Kasi sa DOTr ‘yan… Bakit hahayaan na magbakbakan ang operator at local government at magdusa ang taumbayan,” Poe said in a media interview.

“We are asking the DOTr to suspend the full implementation of the 100-percent cashless transaction it compelled toll operators. The system isn’t completely ready,” she added.

Poe said that aside from creating traffic choke points, the system also caused public utility vehicle drivers and operators to lose income because they had to fall in line for RFID sticker installation as they had a short window within which to get their tags.

The senator also noted the issue on the P500 minimum load requirement of some toll operators.

“That minimum load is a big amount for some, especially if the toll they need to pay is just less than P100. That minimum load is even higher than the minimum wage,” Poe said.

Poe said the hearing will be conducted next week.

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