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)

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