DOTr’s Tugade meets with Tolentino on emergency powers bid vs PH traffic woes

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2019   •   1510

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on Wednesday met with Senator Francis Tolentino to discuss plans on refiling an emergency powers bill to solve the country’s traffic woes, particularly in Metro Manila.

Tugade said he met with Tolentino to tackle the measure that has been pending in both chambers of Congress for more than two years.

The transportation chief said he will do his best to convince lawmakers to pass the bill, which he sees as a vital solution to the country’s perennial problem on traffic.

“‘Wag po nating pabaunan ng duda ‘yung deliberasyon, pababaunan ko yan ng kaliwanagan sa pag-uusap. Naniniwala ako na kung ang mga mag-uusap ay may kaliwanagan, magkakaroon ng kooperasyon, pwede po nating mapadali ito,” he told reporters in an interview.

(Let us not cast doubt on the deliberation, I will shed light on its importance during discussion. I believe than when it is tackled by people who understand it, there will be cooperation. This can be fast-tracked.)

Tolentino earlier said he will push for the emergency powers bid once the incoming 18th Congress convenes on July 22.

The lawmaker said his version of the bill focuses on strengthening the mandate of concerned agencies and local government units to address the traffic crisis.

“Nalagyan natin ng ibang detalye na wala dati, for instance ‘yung working hours, ‘yung adjustment ng oras ng pagpasok at yung role ng mga local government units,” he said.

(We have placed there details that are not present in the previous bill, for instance the working hours, adjustment of working hours and the role of local government units.)

The bill seeking to ease the worsening traffic situation was first filed after Duterte said in his 2016 State of the Nation Address that traffic problems should be legitimately addressed if Congress could accord him emergency powers.

He eventually gave up on his plan after some lawmakers said that the emergency powers might be used for corruption.

Under the proposed Traffic Crisis Act, previously filed in the 17th Congress, the Transportation Secretary will be designated as Traffic Chief with power of control and supervision over land transportation agencies. He will also have the authority to harmonize and enforce all traffic rules and regulations to implement a unified traffic system throughout each of the metropolitan areas and implement programs that will have significant impact on addressing the traffic crisis.

The bill was approved on third and final reading of the House of Representatives while its Senate version reached the plenary but was not approved until the 17th Congress adjourned.

Although there is a need to resolve the worsening traffic woes in the country, the DOTr said that once the bill is refiled, they will not ask the president to certify it as urgent.

“Kung magkasundo po kami sa mga datos at detalye, hindi po ba mas magandang pumunta kami kay pangulo na handa na yung detalye kaysa blanket na hihingin na wala pang detalye?  Hindi ho ba mas magandang proseso yung ganun?” he said. (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Professors fear ‘militarization’ may invite abuse vs students, teachers

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Teachers and professors in Metro Manila are opposing the proposed police and military presence in campuses across the country.

According to University of the Philippines (UP) Chancellor Mike Tan, the alleged militarization of educational institutions in the country may impact the students’ freedom of speech and may induce fear among schools.

Tan said, however, that the military and police may still decide to do some lecturing or organize fora inside campuses even in UP.

“Hahanap lang sila ng co-sponsor sa isang organisasyon ng UP, (They just need a co-sponsor from UP organizations),” Tan said.

Still, this cannot be used as avenue for government troops and police to remain inside school premises, he said.

This may lead to abuse, according to Tan, not only against students but against teachers and professors.

He cited the case of Leonardo Co, a University of the Philippines botanist who was killed in a crossfire between government troops and communist rebels in 2010.

“Medyo nakaka-disturb na bakit laging kung may UP students sa labas, ilang accounts na ang nabanggit kanina. Si Leonard Co na pinatay nga na siya ay isang professor namin. Sa Palanan[town], mga botanists na nagreresearch, mga math professors na nasa math na tutulungan ang mga teachers, hinarass din sila,” Tan argued.

(It’s quite disturbing why UP students are usually being involved. There had been several accounts cited. One of our professors here, Leonard Co, was killed. Botanists in Palanan who were doing research, math professors who were assisting the teachers, were harassed.)

“Kung kaya nilang gawin ito what more kung nakapasok sila sa campuses namin. That is our fear. Yan ang tinatawag naming militarization, (If they can do this, what more if they enter our campuses. That is our fear. That’s militarization,)” he added.

Dr. Danilo Arao, meanwhile, argued that students become activists because of their critical thinking, awareness of the issues and because they want to exercise their freedom of speech.

 “They are just using the label of communism as a convenient excuse to quell whatever critical thinking people may have here in this university as well as in other universities,” the professor said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), for its part, said they are not against student activism.

DILG Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya argued that the government is just being serious in curbing the recruitment of students or minors to join the communist CPP-NPA-NDF’s armed wing.

Nevertheless, the UP Chancellor assured that they are monitoring movements and activities of school organizations in their respective universities and they are willing to cooperate with authorities whenever necessary. – MNP (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

780 passengers unloaded as glitch hits MRT-3 train

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – About 780 passengers were offloaded on Tuesday afternoon from a southbound Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) train after it suffered an electrical failure in motor.

The MRT-3 management said the train was stalled around 1:01 p.m. and the passengers were unloaded at the Ayala station.

The passengers were loaded in the next train, which arrived 11 minutes later, it added.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience,” it said in a statement.

The MRT-3 management said that the motor problem could have been caused by worn-out electrical sub-components such as the main chopper, regulator, insulator.

It added that remedial measures include preventive maintenance and replacement of electrical components.

No water in parts of Metro Manila on August 20-21 – Maynilad

Robie de Guzman   •   August 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Maynilad Water Services has announced a schedule of temporary water service interruptions in parts of Metro Manila from August 20 (Tuesday) to August 21 (Wednesday).

In an advisory, Maynilad said the water service disruption slated from August 20 at 6 p.m. to August 21 at 6 a.m. will affect several areas of Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, and Navotas.

The west zone water concessionaire said the service interruption is due to maintenance activities aimed at improving water services.

Below is the list of affected barangays and their corresponding supply interruption schedules:

MANILA

  • Barangay 124 to 127
  • Barangay 129 to 146
  • Barangay 177

CALOOCAN

  • Barangay 12
  • Barangay 14
  • Barangay 20
  • Barangay 28
  • Barangay 31
  • Barangay 35

MALABON

  • Barangay Longos
  • Tuna
  • Torcillo
  • Dagat-Dagatan Ext.
  • Dalagang Bukid East/C3
  • Lapu-Lapu West
  • Dagat-Dagatan

NAVOTAS

  • Barangay Bangculasi
  • Barangay North Bay Blvd.
  • San Rafael Village

Maynilad urged its customers to store water at least three days before the scheduled interruption to prevent simultaneous heavy withdrawals of water from its pipelines, which can reduce water pressure and cause some customers to have no water earlier than scheduled.

The water concessionaire assured water tankers will be on standby to deliver water to affected areas as needed.

Upon resumption of water service, customers are also advised to let the water flow out for a few seconds until the water clears.

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