President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday told reporters at the palace that he plans to order the Philippine National Police (PNP) to provide police escorts for ambulances trapped in Manila’s clogged roads so they can arrive at hospitals on time.
Duterte said this in response to an AFP report which said that patients are dying in ambulances because drivers on the road have refused to give way to them.
The president said that he’s tasking both the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the PNP-Highway Police Patrol Group to assist paramedics, although he did not specify the timeline for its implementation, GMA News reported.
Duterte has repeatedly said he would need emergency powers to fund and fast-track projects that would solve Metro Manila’s traffic woes, specifically on the vehicle-beset EDSA, the city’s main thoroughfare. But the president has subsequently said he would let EDSA “rot” after receiving pushback from lawmakers.
He said yesterday that he was done seeking emergency powers.
“There’s always the hanging suspicion that I’m there for the money,” Duterte said in Filipino, according to CNN Philippines. “So never mind, we can’t do anything about it.”
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo suggested at a press conference yesterday that ambulance drivers “should be more creative” in seeking out alternative routes that have less traffic. He also said that army choppers could be converted into airborne ambulances. Great ideas. Keep up the good work, Salvador.
Metro Manila’s traffic problems are as long-running as its move toward solutions have been slow. At one point, the MMDA suggested banning driver-only vehicles from EDSA, but the plan was scrapped following a public backlash.
According to a 2018 study by Japan International Cooperation agency, Manila’s traffic jams have been costing the city PHP2.4billion (US$46 million) every day, CNN Philippines reported. By 2035, the Japanese agency said those daily losses could go as high as PHP5.4billion (US$103 million).