Solon: Traffic crisis bill prohibits courts from stopping anti-traffic projects

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The House Committee on Transportation is drafting the substitute Traffic Crisis Bill, that seeks to give President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) special powers to address the traffic problem in the country.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The House Committee on Transportation is drafting the substitute Traffic Crisis Bill, that seeks to give President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) special powers to address the traffic problem in the country.

Committee Chairman Cesar Sarmiento said on Monday that the bill prohibits "the issuance of temporary restraining orders (TROs) and preliminary injunctions by lower courts – except the Supreme Court (SC) – on priority projects, programs, and policies" to be implemented to address the traffic crisis.

A TRO is a court order of limited duration, wherein the court asks the concerned parties to maintain a certain status until the court hears further evidence.

Meanwhile, a preliminary injunction is a temporary order made by a court upon the request of one party. This order prevents the other party from pursuing a particular course of conduct until the trial on the merits of the case is concluded.

Sarmiento assured the public that Congress will ensure that all projects are "above board, complete, transparent and subject to the oversight functions of Congress and Senate."

The bill also wants to create special traffic crisis courts in metropolitan areas to quickly resolve all cases of traffic violations.

Sarmiento added the bill also provides support mechanisms for drivers and employees of public utility vehicles (PUVs) who will be displaced by route rationalization, law enforcement, and mass transport projects.

For example, Sarmiento said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will help affected workers through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will help provide drivers and mechanics employment in the country and abroad while the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will provide affected workers with training courses to develop new skills.

"[We have] DepEd (Department of Education), DSWD, TESDA to provide scholarships to children of displaced workers."

Sarmiento said the bill also tasks the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to provide financing schemes to displaced operators and drivers to help modernize their units.

He added the legislation mandates the "full disclosure of all matters related to the implementation of the Traffic Crisis Act, such as the disclosure of traffic management plans, priority projects, budget or funding source", along with the "the details of procurement and negotiations and even background of personalities involved."

Sarmiento hopes that the committee will approve the substitute bill next week, and for the legislation to be taken in the plenary by the start of December.