DOTr to Poe: Traffic not part of our mandate

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Thursday took exception to the remarks of Senator Grace Poe, stressing that addressing traffic woes is not part of its mandate.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page addressed to Poe, the DOTr clarified that Secretary Arthur Tugade was designated as the country’s traffic czar in a proposed bill in 2016 which did not push through.

“Sana po malinaw. Hindi ‘ho sa naghuhugas ng kamay. Nagsasabi lamang 'ho ng totoo (We hope it’s clear. We are not washing our hands off the issue. We’re just telling the truth),” the statement read.

Poe, in a television interview, said Tugade must be replaced because he is underperforming and is unable to solve traffic congestion problems.

The department said Tugade was not one to rest on his laurels following the DOTr’s completion of 64 airports, 220 commercial and social/tourism port projects, and one land port under his leadership—not including another 133 airport projects, 121 port projects, and six ongoing railway projects.

It further said Tugade’s push for 24/7 construction and enforcement of partial operability timelines of these projects also served as proof of the transport chief’s hard work and thrust for immediate relief of the country’s transport woes.

“Madam Senator, hindi 'ho ugali ni Secretary Tugade ang matulog sa pansitan. Kaya nga 'ho nagpapatupad ang Kagawaran ng 24/7 construction at nagpapairal ng partial operability timelines (Madame Senator, it is not a habit of Secretary Tugade to be lazy. That’s why the department is enforcing 24/7 construction and partial operability timelines),” the DOTr said.

The transport chief’s visit to Maguindanao as part of the DOTr’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization project in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) followed by a meeting with the BARMM’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication in Cotabato was also mentioned as further testament to Tugade and the department’s diligence.

“‘Yan po ang aming Kalihim. Trabaho, gawa at hindi puro salita (That’s our Secretary. Work, action, and not all talk),” the DOTr said.

Sought for a comment, Tugade said Poe should not be concerned with his position as DOTr chief as he serves at the pleasure of President Rodrigo Duterte and that he is "not subject to the whims, caprice and theatrics of misguided politicians.”

“Sus, masyadong bilib sa sarili. Pati ba naman posisyon ko pinakikialaman niya (She thinks too much of herself. She even concerns herself with my position)," Tugade added.

On Tuesday, Tugade and other DOTr officials attended the hearing of the Senate committee on public services chaired by Poe on the proposed provincial bus ban on Edsa.

The granting of emergency powers to fast-track relevant projects was also brought up but was disputed by Poe, saying lack of emergency powers should not be blamed for their failure to accomplish their tasks.

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