Palace dares Poe to name expert to fix traffic woes

MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday urged Senator Grace Poe to suggest an expert, who can help manage traffic in Metro Manila, if she feels that Transport Chief Arthur Tugade is not cut out for the job.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was responding to Poe’s remark that President Rodrigo Duterte should assign a traffic czar, apart from Tugade, to manage traffic and transport problems in Metro Manila.

“Maybe she should give us a name. Maybe Senator Grace has a person in mind. Why doesn’t she come out with it?” Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Thursday.

Asked if Duterte is open to Poe’s suggestion to tap a traffic expert, Panelo said: “Everything will be considered to solve the traffic problem in Edsa.”

Panelo said the President still believes in the capacity of Tugade, who continues to ask the Congress to grant the Duterte administration emergency powers to solve the traffic problem.

He also said he disagreed with Poe that Tugade should be replaced.

“Of course, Mr. Tugade has already laid out the table in the Senate. He is adjusting that emergency powers be granted to the President as he previously did but the problem is, he wasn’t able to get it that’s why the President was no longer interested,” Panelo said.

Emergency powers

Panelo, meanwhile, snapped back at Poe for saying Duterte’s statement to leave Edsa in its current state if Congress failed to grant emergency powers saddened her.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, insisted that with or without emergency powers, a lot can be done to manage traffic and transport woes.

Kinalulungkot niya? Nalulungkot din ako para sa kanya. Kasi kung hindi nila kinontra yung kailangan na pangangailangan at that time, siguro wala na tayong problema sa Edsa (She is saddened? I am also saddened for her. Because if she didn’t oppose the need for emergency powers that time, perhaps Edsa traffic would no longer be a problem),” Panelo said.

He said despite having the option to grant the requested emergency powers, the senator raised concerns that it would be prone to abuse of corruption which disappointed the President.

“They were given nga the option. Eto ng solusyon nga diyan kailangan ng emergency powers ang Presidente, bigyan ninyo siya (This is the solution, the President needs emergency powers, grant him that),” Panelo said.

“Pero ang naging sagot niya at kung sino pa man yung iba pa, e baka daw magka abuso, baka mag-korupsyon, kaya nayamot si Presidente. ‘Ah ganun, o sige, bahala na kayo diyan’ (But her answer, and the answer of others is that there might be abuse, there might be corruption, that’s why the President is upset. ‘If that’s the case, suit yourselves’),” he added.

Panelo denied that the President was letting his pride win by saying he would allow Edsa to rot if not granted emergency powers.

“Depende na si Presidente yun kung magbago isip niya kasi kung nandiyan na yung emergency powers (It will depend on the President if he changes his mind because if emergency powers is granted) so he has the option either to veto it or to approve it,” Panelo said.

He, however, said there were several possibilities to addressing traffic and transport woes which the President is open to.

“If you’re talking of possibilities, sky’s the limit. Antayin nalang natin. Lahat yan probable. Alam mo naman si Presidente (Let’s just wait for it. Everything is probable. You know the President), when circumstances change, he changes his position,” Panelo said.  Azer Parrocha / PNA –