Emergency powers for Duterte needed to solve traffic woe — Palace spokesman

September 10, 2019
Rodrigo R. Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte really needs emergency powers, Malacañang said Tuesday, as Metro Manila continues to suffer from monstrous traffic jams.

“The President wants to solve that,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, referring to the everyday traffic gridlock in the metro.

“[H]e really needs emergency powers,” Panelo added.

Duterte earlier said he needed emergency powers to have funds for projects that would solve traffic in Metro Manila, particularly on EDSA.

But the President seemed to be fed up with trying to solve the traffic congestion in Metro Manila, saying that without him having emergency powers: “Let Edsa rot there.”

“Well, I think the position of the President remains. From the very start, he wanted an emergency power to solve the traffic mess,” Panelo said.

But Duterte’s spokesman said the President “will not go down on his knees and plead” for Congress to grant him emergency powers.

“They should know what the President needs, in order to solve the problems of the country, specifically with respect to this matter,” Panelo said,

Following the report that patients die in ambulances while on the way to the hospital due to traffic, Panelo suggested the use of choppers for faster transportation of patients in emergency cases.

“[P]erhaps they can use choppers for an emergency flight,” he said.

Asked if the government has enough choppers, he said: “Well, we can always utilize the AFP with respect to choppers.”

“I think the Secretary of Health, as well as the Secretary of DND (Department of National Defense) should be coordinating with respect to that,” he said.

When asked if he was thinking of an air ambulance, Panelo said: “No, not air ambulance. It’s like carrying the patient. In an ambulance, swero lang. Sini-swero lang naman ‘yun papunta sa hospital. If your problem is traffic, and you cannot reach the hospital, then maybe a chopper can do that within minutes.”

The Palace official suggested that Department of Health should consider having choppers “in relation to public service.”

“Perhaps, they should include that in the next budget where they can ask the help of other agencies that can buy choppers to be converted into an ambulance chopper,” he said.

Aside from the use of helicopters, Panelo even suggested that ambulance drivers “should be creative.”

“They should look for roads that are not traffic-laden,” he said.

The worsening situation where patients die on the road due to traffic should be seen by lawmakers in granting the President emergency powers.