New bill orders LGUs to address traffic problems, etc.

Local communities may soon be more assured of their safety and security as House Bill 7878, seeking to establish a Department of Public Safety (DPS) in every province, city and municipality, this week hurdled second reading at the House of Representatives.

Through viva voce voting, the House approved the proposed “Public Safety Act” which shall mandate all local government units (LGUs) to establish and maintain a fully functional and responsive central command and control center, and an emergency response and management system to protect and preserve the right of the people to life, liberty and property.

The bill, principally authored by Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas (1st District, Ilocos Norte), declares it is the policy of the State to promote public order, ensure public safety and further spur economic development through the enhancement of local government capability in addressing safety and security concerns.

The bill mandates every province, city and municipality to create a DPS under the direct control and supervision of the provincial governor, city or municipal mayor. The DPS shall implement public order and safety laws and ordinances, help reduce vehicular traffic congestion and address the effects of man-made and natural disaster.

The DPs shall operate a fully-functional and responsive central command and control center, and an emergency response and management system that will connect constituents needing immediate assistance with the emergency resources of the government, such as law enforcement, medical services, and fire and rescue services.

Contiguous municipalities and cities may, through their local chief executives, enter into arrangements and agreements to establish collective command and control centers and emergency response and management systems pending the ability of certain municipalities and cities to establish their own independent centers and systems.
Among the functions of the DPS shall be: 1) prepare, integrate, coordinate and supervise all plans, programs, projects and activities of the local government relative to the promotion and maintenance of peace and order and the protection of life, liberty and property; 2) secure the general public and maintain public order in conjunction with the police and other national law enforcement agencies; 3) augment auxiliary traffic services and support other agencies tasked to enforce traffic management; 4) recommend the issuance of temporary terminal permits to public utility vehicles and manage PUV terminals; 5) clear sidewalks, public parks and other public areas of obstruction, such as unauthorized structure or fixtures and unlicensed vendors; and 6) organize plans for and undertake evacuation, rescue and relief operations in times of disasters, calamities and civil disturbances.

Additionally, the DPS shall establish, maintain and operate a central command and control center and emergency response and management system that will monitor and respond to various contingencies where emergency resources of the government are required by the constituents.

Existing departments within the LGUs whose primary functions are mentioned above shall be integrated and included within the DPS.

The amount necessary to implement the Act shall be charged against the current appropriations of the LGUs. Thereafter, such sum shall be included in the annual budget of the LGU.

Fariñas said currently, only a handful of highly urbanized cities have their own dedicated and integrated department in-charge of public order and safety.

“The norm among local government units is to rely on other local national agencies to address particular public order and safety concerns. This makes LGUs less responsive to the pressing public order and safety problems that the nation currently faces,” said Fariñas.

Fariñas further said that economic and other losses in instances of death, injuries and damage to property due to crime and natural and man-made disasters and calamities may be prevented by a more responsive and better prepared government at the local level.

SOURCE: Rowena B. Bundang (2018). House approves proposed “Public Safety Act” on second reading. 17 November 2018 03:04:58 PM. www.congress.gov.ph/press/details.php?pressid=11043

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