MANILA, Philippines – Although President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will still have police escorts for security reasons, he announced on Tuesday that he will not be getting any special treatment when travelling on the country's roads.
“Sa totoo lang po, may hagad (police escort) po tayong kasama, pero ‘yung hagad, kasama ko rin po pag nakahinto sa pulang ilaw,” said the president.
(To tell you the truth, I will have police escorts, but they will follow traffic lights; if it's a red light, they will stop.)
Aquino said he will suggest the same policy to incoming Vice-President Jejomar Binay, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, and the Chief Justice.
Under Presidential Decree 96, only motor vehicles designated for the use of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Office, Bureau of Fire Protection, and hospital ambulances can be fitted with sirens, bells, horns or similar gadgets.
As for government officials, only the President, Vice President, Senate president, House Speaker, and Chief Justice are allowed to use vehicles with these devices.
“Ako po'y magmumungkahi sa kanila, pero karapatan po nila ayon sa batas na sa kasalukuyang umiiral, na mayroong ganoong klaseng escort,” he said.
“Pero lagpas po nila ay talagang inaatasan natin ang LTO (Land Transportation Office), ang highway patrol. ang MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) at iba pang kawani ng mga gobyerno na may responsibilidad dito, na ipatupad ang batas na ‘yung presidente hanggang sa chief justice lang ang may karapatan,” said Aquino.
“’Yung presidente, ay iwe-waive na po [‘yan] as much as possible,” he added.
The late President Corazon Aquino adopted the same no special treatment policy, but quickly abandoned it due to security threats. There were at least 7 failed coup attempts against the first Aquino administration.
Many Cabinet members, senators, congressmen, city and town mayors use escorts with sirens and horns when travelling.
Aquino displayed the same attitude during the elections last May 10 when he waited in line like other voters in casting their ballots in Tarlac.
Voting was delayed for hours due to a problem with the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine in Aquino's precinct.