Duterte no longer wants emergency powers on traffic

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    PRESIDENT Duterte has rejected the idea of having emergency powers to address the traffic mess in Metro Manila, believing that he would not be able to complete, within his term, the projects that would be contracted under the special powers.

    At the same time, Duterte chided a “senator” who opposed the granting of emergency powers to him. He did not name the senator, but Sen. Grace Poe had expressed opposition to the grant of emergency powers to Duterte due to concerns of possible corruption.

    Only last Tuesday, Chief Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said Duterte still wants emergency powers to solve the traffic problem in Metro Manila, especially EDSA, but he would “not go down on his knees and plead for it.”

    Duterte said it was Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade who had suggested that he should have emergency powers to address the traffic problem. Tugade had reiterated his call for the grant of emergency powers to the President and clashed with Poe over the issue in a Senate hearing last Tuesday.

    The President said he was informed that another senator was amenable to it but he said “huwag na lang (no more).”

    Duterte said if he accepted the emergency powers and used it to contract projects to address the traffic mess, none of the projects would be completed within his term and some people will claim that it was not completed due to corruption. He’d rather avoid it all together.

    “Ngayon, sabi nung isang senador doon sa isang senador, willing daw na pag-usapan. Sabi ko, what for? I cannot complete the project. I cannot clear EDSA with the remaining years of my term… you cannot complete the project within three or — three or four years. Sabi ko, huwag na lang,” he said.

    (“Now, one senator told another senator, they are willing to talk about it. I said, what for? I cannot complete the project. I cannot clear EDSA with the remaining years of my term… you cannot complete the project within three or — three or four years. I said, no more,” he said.)

    Duterte, who had vowed to rid government of corruption when he ran for president, was upset when Poe raised the possibility of corruption if the emergency powers are approved. Under the proposed emergency powers, the bidding of projects would be removed to expedite the approval and start of projects.

    Duterte said if people insist that he do something, he’d tell the people to look at the senator since she already insisted that there will be graft and corruption when nothing has been done yet.

    The President said he would also raise this issue if the senator runs for higher office.

    Duterte also said he is considering asking Metro Manila Development Authority personnel and PNP Highway Patrol Group to escort ambulances through traffic jams amid reports that a patient died after the ambulance that was taking him to the hospital got stuck in traffic.