AS COMPLAINTS about the difficulties of commuting in Metro Manila multiply, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo blamed Congress, saying emergency powers should have been given to President Rodrigo R. Duterte three years ago to avoid the transport issues faced today.

In a briefing on Friday, Mr. Panelo said that Congress should have given Mr. Duterte the authority to address the traffic issues in Metro Manila after Mr. Duterte asked for emergency powers to fix the traffic crisis in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2016. In the wake of worsening traffic conditions, Mr. Duterte recently asked for emergency power again, but noted he would not force lawmakers to do so.

“Kung binigay mo sila three years ago (If you had given that power three years ago), we would have six years to do it. Baka nagawan ng paraan kaagad (Maybe that would have been addressed sooner),” Mr. Panelo said.

Mr. Panelo, who is Mr. Duterte’s Spokesperson and Legal Counsel, added that the current administration is working on easing the traffic crisis through its aggressive infrastructure program, known as “Build Build Build.” He added that Mr. Duterte is taking all actions necessary “even if he was deprived of the requested emergency powers.”

“We’re 20 years behind. So, that’s why (Mr. Duterte’s) ‘Build, Build, Build,’ iyon ang solusyon doon (that will be the solution to that). Kailangan mong i-widen ang roads, kailangan may mga bago kang ruta, kailangan may mga skyways ka, kailangan iyong mga bridges mo na mga single lang ang lane, kailangan i-expand mo. Infrastructure talaga ang solusyon (You need to widen the roads, you need to change the routes, you needs skyways, you need to expand single lane bridges. Infrastructure is really the solution),” he said.

Mr. Panelo, who undertook his much publicized “Commute Challenge” on Friday, said he didn’t need to experience commuting to know the hardships Filipinos are going through on a daily basis. He said that the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Department of Transportation are currently working on measures to improve traffic and mass transportation problems. — Gillian M. Cortez