Belmonte backs emergency powers for Duterte vs traffic

LP LEADER. Outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said he might lead the members of the LP who will join the majority coalition if their members won't be asked to jump ship to PDP-Laban. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

LP LEADER. Outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said he might lead the members of the LP who will join the majority coalition if their members won't be asked to jump ship to PDP-Laban.

Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said he is in favor of granting President-elect Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to resolve the paralyzing traffic situation in Metro Manila.

“Let’s give him the emergency powers but let us be very specific what the emergency powers consist of,” Belmonte told reporters in a chance interview on Tuesday, June 21.

Incoming Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said on Monday that Duterte is eyeing to seek emergency powers from Congress to swiftly solve the traffic crisis. Tugade said this would allow the government to skip public bidding for contracts.

Tugade said that Duterte’s preferred House Speaker, newly-elected Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, was “receptive” to the incoming President’s plan.

Competitive public bidding is a crucial point in government acquisition since it provides for transparency in the process and equal opportunity for private parties.

But transport agencies have had major problems in the delivery of services due to irregularities in the bidding process.

The glitches in the operations of the Metro Rail Transit-3 are blamed on the failed biddings for maintenance services. Incumbent Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya was linked to irregularities in awarding the P3.8-million contract to Korean-Filipino firm Busan Transportation Corporation, although he denied this. (READ: On the MRT: A capacity conundrum)

Belmonte on Tuesday expressed his support for waiving the public bidding, as long as the public is informed every step of the way.

“It’s better if there is bidding, but, whatever, it is better [if the public is informed of] what is being done: ‘This is what we are doing right now, we are negotiating with [this group],’” he said.

Leading LP majority?

Belmonte earlier said he is eyeing to lead the minority in the 17th Congress as he continues his bid for speakership.

Based on House rules, a candidate for Speaker wins the post through a majority of votes from 284 lawmakers. The losing candidate automatically becomes the Minority Leader.

But during Tuesday’s interview, Belmonte said that he might lead the members of the Liberal Party in joining the “super majority” coalition being formed by PDP-Laban if they become “at par with other groups.”

He said the LP has not signed a coalition agreement with the majority group because there are parties there that wish to shrink the size of the LP to 20 members. (READ: Belmonte: 'Sizeable number of LP members still on my side')

“[That] is way below the other groups. In that case, I cannot be a member of such group,” he said.   

Major political groups in the House – the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Nacionalista Party (NP), National Unity Party (NUP) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) – have all sealed in their support for Alvarez and the PDP-Laban.

Alvarez earlier said that he prefers that members of the LP joining the majority coalition would jump ship to PDP-Laban. LP won more than 100 seats in the last elections, while PDP-Laban only got 3.

But Belmonte said LP congressmen should be treated like other members of the coalescing parties who were not asked to shift to PDP-Laban. (READ: LP lawmakers told: Support PDP-Laban, but stay with party)

If the majority group favors his condition, Belmonte said: “Certainly it’s a real option for me to be the head of the Liberal members who would like to form a part of the coalition.” – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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