Emergency powers to resurrect ‘dead’ Manila


BEFORE he can spend a single day in Malacañang, our incoming President Rody Duterte tells us, he has already dealt with his own Yolanda crisis. He does not have to wait for Mother Nature to strike with her fury. He does not have to wait for a foreign power to invade our country. There is already a crisis waiting for him.

That crisis is none other than the humongous traffic gridlock in our national capital.

We could agree with him that the traffic, which reduced President Benigno B.S. Aquino III and his government into total helplessness, is indeed very bad.

After railing for years against the domination by imperial Manila of the rest of the country, our incoming President is now telling us that Manila, which means all of Metropolitan Manila, is a “dead city.”

We don’t agree. And we think this is just one of his “preposterous statements” that he instructed us not to believe. For the first lessons in Philippine history and geography tell us that Manila is fittingly exalted as “the most noble and ever loyal city” because of its great service and resilience in the face of war and invasion, as capital to the entire Philippine archipelago.

Manila cannot be dead, being the home of over 10 million of our people, and the workplace of an additional 12 million whose dwellings are in the adjacent areas.

But it cheers us that soon-to-be President Duterte believes, by his own experience, calculation and analysis, that Manila has been slain by the traffic gridlock. And he will end this gridlock to bring back Manila to life.

He has announced that after he is sworn into office next Thursday he will proclaim a traffic crisis or emergency. This is preparatory to seeking from the new and 17th Congress, which will convene on July 25 emergency powers that will arm and enable him to vanquish the traffic problem in our capital.

Because Mr. Duterte has walled himself from serious media questioning, information about this has come to us in trickles and rumors. He has not spelled out why he believes Manila is dead, and why he needs extraordinary powers to resurrect the corpse.

Some members of Congress—in both the House and Senate—have taken Mr. Duterte seriously enough to give the matter urgent thought. Leading voices in both houses promise that our new President will get legislative support for emergency powers. And he doesn’t have to make case before the congressmen, the majority of whom have defected to his ruling coalition.

One legislator who has taken Mr. Duterte at his word is former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She favors granting him additional powers to deal with the deteriorating traffic situation in Metro Manila. She is set to file a bill seeking emergency powers for him in the 17th Congress.

Titled “The traffic crisis Act of 2016,” Mrs. Arroyo’s bill declares in its explanatory note that the traffic congestion in Metro Manila “impedes progress and leads to a situation where billions are lost daily in fuel cost, man hours and opportunities.”

With additional powers, the incoming government could speed up the completion of infrastructure projects and introduce drastic traffic reduction measures in order to achieve its annual growth rate target of 7 percent.

The emergency powers for Duterte shall be effective for two years, says the Arroyo bill.

Members of the Duterte team have dramatized the emergency powers request in the threatening terms: “No emergency powers, no solution.”

President Duterte can only provide band-aid solutions if he fails to secure emergency powers to solve the traffic nightmare in Metro Manila, says incoming Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.

We think the issue of emergency powers must be resolved on the basis of prudence and probity.

Prudence because the grant of emergency powers is not the normal way of doing things in our constitutional system. Probity because we should make sure that the powers are exercised with integrity, lest emergency powers become a catch-all solution every time the new administration faces a difficult problem.


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. Traffic became worse when our metro trains began breaking down and the slow work of road diggings blocking whatever few roads are available. Maybe Duterte can start whipping those contruction workers to work 24 hours 7 days a week instead of a 9 to 5 kind of hours like they are going to office or something. Its really infuriating also that the LGUs can just block roads to allow some religious groups to hold their event, or Shell holding an annual car event for a whole week, or shooting some inane movie.

  2. Manila dweller on

    Traffic is terrible now in Manila compared to 2 to 4 decades ago. People’s density has grown so big as well as properties and vehicles proportionately. But the roads had not expanded to service the demand of more driving space in mega Manila. Where more people dwells, more amenities are needed as well as infrastructures. Manila has perfectly catered to this demand by developing more subdivisions, putting up gigantic malls, more universities opened up, and expansion of private and public infrastructures. But now the problem is roads. They were left behind, so the result is traffic congestions particularly during work and school days. Manila is a central magnet for folks from other regions to come to dwell, trade, university studies, leisure, works, and you name it. I think one way to check the growing people’s density along with infrastructure and transport in order to decongest traffic is to ‘decentralize’ Manila. The government may implement a restrictive ‘Zoning Regulation’, in a way that no more malls, infrastructures, or large buildings to be constructed in the mega Manila (like in the case of Fort Bonifacio which they turned into a Commercial hub). Any upcoming business complex, infrastructures, and institutions should be located at North Luzon, South Luzon, Vizayas, and Mindanao. They have a lot of spaces. The scheme may demagnetize Manila folks to change dwelling places. This may rebalance the density and decongest traffic jams if not lessen traffic flow in the mega city.

  3. Ignacio Balbutin on

    If it takes emergency power for Manila traffic gridlock to be solved then let it be. The congressmen should push for the bill filed by Rep. Gloria Arroyo

  4. Manila is dead, killed by his own people, killed by the politicians and killed by the authorities.
    Since decades nobody really cared about this once so alive Metropolis but slowly greed and corruption took over the leadership.
    The motorists did/do their parts. Uncivilized, undisciplined and stupid behavior are the main reason of the problems here. The authorities tolerated those behavior as long as they can make money out of this miserable situation. The authorities also were/are blind and deaf. They ignore ideas and plans to solve this problems. The authorities are not consistent enough to follow up their own rules and regulations. In short words … all the problems here are man-made. Manila is a lawless City, especially at night, when the authorities sleep deeper as they already do at daytime. Poor Manila, poor Philippines. And you expect that Duterte will solve this problem while shortest time. This is impossible without the help of educated people.

  5. That’s your opinion asshole! NCR ain’t dead. Or else you go back to that stinkhole province where you came from and don’t come back to ‘dead’ manila!

    • You’re such a hypocrite. Manila is dead … just believe it. The air in every stinky village is 100x better than in Manila. In a few years you can bury this City in the own garbage, pollution, fake promises and lost dreams. I don’t understand how people still think Manila is alive. It’s the fault of people like you, that the City is in this situation.

  6. I have a for proposal for consideration of authorities. Pls.contact me, so.I can send by email

  7. How could granting an emergency power help solve the traffic gridlock? Does he need the full force of the military to direct traffic? If he has a solution to the problem, why does he need a special power to enforce it? I think this is nothing but a test for how far the people would support him. First, he tried to take away the Freedom of the Press. Then, he started taking away the due process by ordering the police to start executing suspected drug addicts and pushers. Now, he want an absolute power to supposedly solve the traffic situation. What is he going to do with this emergency power? Tell people when they can use the roads? Tell people where they can or cannot go? There are very few solutions to this problem. LIke, moving some businesses, like schools and universities away from the city. Or building more flyovers. Or improving the LRT/MRT system. Or better zoning system. But does he need an emergency power to solve a traffic problem? What would he ask for if he is faced with a more serious problem? LIke a national security issue?

    • Floyd Kappus on

      You make it sound like Rudy is declaring Emergency Powers for military purposes. I do not believe this is the case at all. The laws in this country are preventing the city from any proper planning of streets around and in Manila. He must be able to widen streets, connect others and make new ones in order to divert the traffic through-out the city. You have to get away from old ideas of small divided subdivisions into what’s best for the entire area around Manila. This removes a lot of time, paperwork and court fees.

    • Ignacio Balbutin on

      You cannot just evict business establishment who are their for centuries without emergency powers, it takes time in the court. It will take emergency power to evict these universities and business establishments which are obstructing traffics

    • What would you suggest? Since decades nobody … NOBODY cared about the traffic.which fault was this? Right…government and authorities. There were not even able to observe their own rules and regulations. This started in the Barangays and end up in Malacañang. And now somebody comes with an iron broom and promise to clean the authorities and solve the traffic problem. Now this is also not OK. What do you want? You want to continue like this? Lazy, complaining, being irresponsible??? Do something for your city.