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Sirens Used for Emergencies Only, Not to Beat Traffic: Palace

Sirens are only used by government officials in case of emergencies and not to cut through Metro Manila traffic, Malacañang said.

This after Vice President Leni Robredo called on fellow government officials not to use sirens as a way to “empathize” with the daily plight of commuters stuck in traffic.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet officials, including himself, barely use the sirens in the first place.

Sino raw ba nagwawang-wang? Ako, hindinaakonagwawang-wang. Sino ba samga Cabinet members nagwawang-wang? Ginagawa lang ‘yun ‘pag may emergency (Who uses sirens? Me, I don’t use sirens. Who among the Cabinet members use sirens? It’s only used during emergencies),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Bihirang-bihira ‘yan. Kahit ako hindi ko–bihirang-bihira ko makita ‘yun (That’s very rare. Even me, I see it very rarely),” he added.

Since he was appointed spokesperson, Panelo said he only recalls being ‘escorted’ by transport authorities to get to an interview he was running late for.

Pero hindi ako gumamit; nag-offer sila. Sabi niya, ‘Sir, samahan namin kayo’ pero walang wang-wang ‘yun ha (But I didn’t use a siren; they offered. He said, ‘Sir, let us accompany you’ but that was without using sirens),” Panelo said.

Panelo said Duterte himself was against the use of sirens since he was Davao City mayor. He said the President would even scold his driver for overtaking.

“Personally, si Presidente ayaw niya ng mga ganung wang-wang (is against the use of sirens); but I can understand kung kailangang gamitin mo ang wang-wang (if you need to use sirens) on a particular occasion,” Panelo said.

Last year, Duterte said he maintains the policy of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, against the use of sirens by government officials following reports that there has been a resurgence of the use of sirens.

Under the law, sirens may only be attached to vehicles designated for official use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Office, police departments, fire departments, and hospital ambulances.

Government officials entitled to use vehicles with sirens are the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker, and the Chief Justice.

In a separate report, Senator Richard Gordon said the use sirens by high government officials is fine as long as it is not abused.

“You know ‘yung mga yan pa-cute e (they are just trying to look cute). Like, ‘di kami aabot sa mga hearing namin (we would not make it to our hearings),” Gordon said in a media interview.

“‘Wang-wang (sirens) is okay as long as you don’t abuse it. Alam mo, OA yun e (You know that’s overacting),” he added.

Gordon said he does not use sirens, but admitted though to having two motorcycle escorts.

“I can do without it but alam naman niyo ang tulog ko (you know that my sleep is only) four hours a day. Meron pa akong opisina sa (I also have an office in) Red Cross which is my volunteer work. You cannot take that away from me,” the lawmaker said.

“What is practical, what is pragmatic should be best. Let us not learn what is abusive,” Gordon said.

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