The House Committee on Transportation (COTr) outlined the priority resolutions it plans to pursue to improve travel convenience for Filipino commuters and expedite the flow of commodities by land, air, and sea.
Committee chair Rep. Cesar V. Sarmiento said that House Resolution (HR) No. 940, which aims to improve the roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) network in the country, is one of the committee’s priority measures in the immediate term. Sarmiento gave his report on the COTr’s accomplishments in the first session on July 26, delivered before various transport agencies that convened at the Batasan complex.
Sarmiento said HR No. 940 came about after a Lower House inspection of the Philippine eastern and western nautical highways last March, in which “we saw various issues relating to connectivity, adequacy of passenger lounges and parking areas, and efficiency of port operations, facilities, and traffic flow that contribute to the overall commuters’ experience.”
The committee also plans to move forward with other priorities that include the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Amendment Law, which seeks to separate the operator and regulatory functions of the agency.
Other priority measures include the establishment of the National Transport Safety Board; the Sustainable Transport Act; the Harbor Pilotage Act; merging of the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board into the Land Transportation Authority; and establishment of the Philippine Railways Authority.
Also set for filing within the week, according to Sarmiento, is the Philippine Airport Development Corporation Bill, which “will provide institutional reform for a unified aerodrome policy.”
The COTr assured that it “will make sure every pending matter listed in our accomplishments will advance or be completed this second regular session.”
On the measures that have been approved by the committee, Sarmiento asked for support in particular for the Traffic Crisis Act of 2017. “This bill is up for plenary deliberation. We request your support for this. We need strength in numbers to implement this law and solve the traffic crisis that has infested our lives and our economy.”
He said that after 14 hearings and several dialogues with stakeholders, “we believe that we have already fine-tuned this bill as an urgent immediate and comprehensive response to the traffic crisis.”
“This bill is replete with easily implementable programs that have immediate and far-reaching implications in our transportation sector in contrast to the big-ticket transportation projects which usually take years to complete.”
At the same time, Sarmiento asked the transportation-related agencies not just to pursue big-ticket projects that require large budgets but to focus on “low-lying fruits,” referring to easily implementable programs that have an immediate effect on traffic congestion and transport safety.
To ensure that transport agencies heed this call, Sarmiento added that COTr will “scrutinize your performance and review the utilization of your budgets.”
He added, “We will only support the budget of those deserving and capable.”
Present at the meeting were representatives of several transportation agencies, led by Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation. Also at the session were ranking officials of the DOTr’s attached agencies such as CAAP, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Philippine Ports Authority, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Manila International Airport Authority, Philippine National Railways, and Maritime Industry Authority.
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