PH traffic woes: Palace suggests use of military choppers for emergency situations

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019   •   1347

📷 Philippine Air Force

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday suggested the use of military chopper to airlift patients during emergency situations.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the suggestion following reports about people dying in ambulances because of traffic jams in Metro Manila.

Panelo said hospitals can ask the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to use their chopper for emergency purposes.

“We can always utilize the AFP in respect to choppers,” he told reporters when asked for his reaction to an international media report that featured interviews with ambulance drivers recounting their experiences of a patient dying while on transit due to heavy traffic.

The Palace official said the Department of Health should coordinate with the Department of National Defense to discuss the request.

“The hospital will request. But I think the secretary of health as well as the secretary of the Department of National Defense should be coordinating with respect to that,” he said.

The DOH has welcomed the suggestion but said this still needs further study.

“Is there enough military choppers to airlift patients? Di ba kasi ang dami niyan, araw-araw na lang may naririnig kang ambulansya, kahit saan ka pumunta, may ambulansyang tumatakbo, papaano yan? Anong capacity ng military? Di ko alam, kailangang pag-usapan o pag-aralan.” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told UNTV News in a phone interview.

Meanwhile, Panelo said the plight of emergency patients stuck in gridlock proves there is a need for the Duterte administration to be granted with emergency powers to address congestion in Metro Manila, especially on a major thoroughfare such as EDSA.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been asking Congress to grant his government the emergency powers to fix the region’s traffic problems.

The Congress has yet to approve the bid after some lawmakers asked the government to present a clear and comprehensive plan on how this power would be used.

Malacañang believes having emergency powers will help the government impose projects and other traffic solutions without worrying about facing any restraining order or opposition. However, it is still up to Congress on whether to grant the proposal.“He will not go down on 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 matter,” Panelo said. RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte: I asked Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping for help on COVID-19 vaccines but no talks on WPS

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday disclosed that he asked help from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines but insisted that they did discuss issues on the West Philippine Sea.

During his talk to the people on Monday night, Duterte recalled how he called Xi when the Philippines had yet to get any supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Let me just also say na itong history na… for public consumption na ito. Tumawag ako kay President Xi Jinping, sinabi ko kasi noong kasagsagan ng walang dumating talaga, walang makapkap si Secretary (Carlito) Galvez (Jr.), tumawag ako, sabi ko, ‘Mr. President (Xi), I would like to ask for your help until now Philippines is at a loss on how to get vaccines,’” he said.

“Sabi niya, ‘it’s okay we will help you.’ Ganoon lang. Hindi naman sinabi na kalimutan mo yung Scarborough Shoal, bigyan kita… Sinabi niya lang as simple as that,” he added.

The Philippines first received 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines that were donated by the Chinese government on February 28. The national government used this supply to roll out its vaccination program on March 1.

In total, the Philippines has received 1 million donated Sinovac vaccine doses from China, including the 400,000 doses that were delivered in March.

Duterte stood by his earlier statement that the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude to China for all its help but emphasized that there would be no compromise on the West Philippine Sea issue.

“It’s never, never wrong to say that I owe you a debt of gratitude. Totoo eh, binigyan tayo, tinanggap natin, ginamit natin,” he said.

“But it does not mean na tanggapin ko ang bakuna tapos sabihin ko kalimutan ko na yung claim diyan sa West Philippine sea, okay na yun dahil sa bakuna… It was never like that, the world does not operate like that,” he added.

He said there would be no compromise on the issue and that China knows it.

“Maski bahain tayo dito ng vaccine, gagamitin ko pa rin pero sabihin ko ‘hindi ito kabayaran’. Iba ito. This is a Philippine national interest, this is not a health issue that nagpasalamat ako,” he said.

Why did Duterte tap out of challenge to debate with Carpio?

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.

“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.

Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”

“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.

“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.

Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.

The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.

China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

Duterte won’t debate with Carpio; taps spox Roque for face-off on WPS issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will not face retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on the issues about the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the chief executive made the decision after several Cabinet members and two senators advised him not to square off with Carpio as this might compromise national policies and confidential information.

Roque, a lawyer, said the president has delegated to him the task of debating with Carpio on the issue.

“Ang sabi po ni Presidente, kung papayag si Antonio Carpio, tuloy ang debate dahil importante naman na marinig ang mga ideya para ang mga taong bayan ay makagawa ng konklusyon,” Roque said in an announcement over state-run PTV.

“Ang sabi po ni President, itinatalaga niya po ang inyong abang lingkod na makipag-debate kay retired justice Antonio Carpio,” he added.

 Roque said he has accepted Duterte’s directive.

“Sabihin lang po ng Philippine Bar Association kung saan at kailan ang debate at sisipot po tayo roon,” he said.

Duterte on Wednesday dared Carpio to go on a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue. He said he would ask Carpio on who ordered the Philippine Navy to retreat from the area during the 2012 standoff; what the administration of then President Benigno Aquino did about it; and if they enforced the ruling when they filed and won the case.

Carpio accepted Duterte’s dare but he denied involvement in the issue of China’s occupation of some areas in the contested waters.

“Totoo po hinamon po ni Presidente si justice Carpio sa isang debate pero ang pagdedebate po ay dalawang bagay, di ba po? Sino ba ang responsable sa pagkawala ng Scarborough Shoal?” Roque said.

“Ang subject matter po ng debate ay sino at anong administrasyon ang naging dahilan kung kailan nawala sa Pilipinas ang possession sa Scarborough Shoal,” he further stated.

Roque also said that he would also ask Carpio during the debate on who was responsible and under what administration did the Philippines lost possession of the Mischief Reef.

“Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, it would be a pleasure to debate against you. I’ll see you at the designated time and place,” he said, addressing Carpio.

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