MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte "wants" but "will not go down his knees and plead" for emergency powers to solve the crippling traffic in the metropolis, his spokesperson said Tuesday, following a news report that patients have died due to the gridlock.
Patients died en route because special lanes for emergency vehicles were not enforced, the infrastructure was outdated, and local drivers were often unwilling or unable to make way, according to an Agence France-Presse report that quoted experts.
Duterte at the start of his term sought emergency powers to resolve the traffic situation, but some lawmakers "insinuated that there may be some abuse of power," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
"The President wants to solve that and he really needs emergency powers... But 'kung ayaw niyo edi huwag', sabi niya,'" Panelo told reporters.
('If you don't want it, then never mind,' he said.)
"In other words, he will not go down his knees and plead. They should know what the President needs in order to solve the problems of the country, specifically with respect to this manner," he added.
Emergency powers would prevent petitioners from seeking halt orders against traffic policies, noted Panelo.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade "is pursuing" emergency powers for the President and some lawmakers back it, said the Palace spokesperson, adding that only Sen. Grace Poe seems to be against the measure.
Duterte did not certify bills seeking emergency powers for him as urgent.
"Kasi (it's because) the assumption palagi (always) is members of the Senate know exactly the problems of the land and if they can help solve it with the Executive department, then they should," he said.
In the meantime, concerned government agencies "should be creative, look for roads that are not traffic-laden or perhaps they can use choppers for an emergency flight" for patients, said Panelo.