By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Transportation has endorsed for plenary approval a bill seeking to prohibit the construction of malls; sports, exhibition and convention centers; and similar establishments within a three-kilometer radius from the exit and entrance of an expressway to prevent traffic congestion.
The House panel, chaired by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento recommended the plenary passage of House Bill 9100, principally authored by Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr.
The bill, the proposed “Anti-Expressway Motor Vehicle Traffic Congestion Act of 2019”, provides that it shall be unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to build or construct a mall, sports center, convention center, exhibition center or any other similar establishment designed for events or the congregation or gathering of people within a three-kilometer radius from an existing expressway.
Gonzales said his measure is among the “responsive, effective, and comprehensive measures” that could address traffic problems.
House Bill 9100 provides that government officials who have jurisdiction over the mall, sports center, convention center, or exhibition center are strictly enjoined to desist in issuing the permits required under Republic Act No. 6541, the “National Building Code of the Philippines”, or its Implementing Rules and Regulations for the construction of such structures or facilities within the 3-kilometer radius from the entrance of an existing expressway.
Violators of the “Anti-Expressway Motor Vehicle Traffic Congestion Act of 2019” shall face a penalty of one month to six-month imprisonment or a fine amounting to P500,000, or both at the discretion of the court.
“This is without prejudice to the imposition of other applicable criminal or administrative penalties to the offending public officer/s as may be provided under existing laws, rules and regulations,” according to the bill.
The penalties shall be imposed on the owner of the mall, sports center, convention center, exhibition center or similar establishment, it provides.
Sarmiento, co-author of the bill, said in case the owner of the structure or facility is a corporation, the officers of the corporation shall be held liable for the violation of this Act.
In case, the owner of the structure of the facility is a partnership, all the partners shall be held jointly and solidarily liable for this Act, he added.
The measure tasks the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in coordination with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) , the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) , the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) , operators of expressways and other concerned agencies and stakeholders, to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.
The IRR shall include the enumeration of similar establishments covered by this Act and the permits that are covered by the prohibition.
“The implementing agencies shall also conduct regular studies on the impact of establishments, events or activities to vehicle traffic flow and shall recommend to Congress amendments to further promote or achieve the policy declared in this Act, including lowering of vehicle capacity on the definition of establishments or imposition of similar prohibition on other types or classifications of roads,” the measure said.