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Ambulance on way to fetch patients not allowed on EDSA carousel

Ambulances without patients on board are not allowed to pass through the EDSA busway, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said Thursday.

In a "24 Oras" report by Mark Salazar, MMDA said ambulances are prohibited from using the special lanes for buses even if it has to fetch patients in emergency cases.

“Kung walang sakay na pasyente hindi po pwede gumamit ng bus carousel. So, even 'yung excuse na pi-pick up kami ng pasyente ay hindi ina-accept otherwise lahat na lang magkeclaim na pupunta sila sa pasyente,” MMDA chairman Don Artes said. 

(If there is no patient on board, the ambulance cannot use the bus carousel lane. So even if their excuse is that they have to pick up a patient, it will not be accepted; otherwise, everyone will just claim that they will fetch a patient.)

Four ambulances with no patient on board were issued traffic violation tickets earlier. 

“Tingnan nyo naman ang sistema ng traffic sa kabila. Kung dito ako dadaan paano ho ako makakarating doon sa lugar e umaano ang oras?” said an ambulance driver. 

(Look at the traffic system on the other side. If I go through there, how can I get to the patient on time.)

“Humihingi po kami ng pasensya dahil bagong driver ng ambulance. May tawag lang sa barangay namin na pipick-upin na ihahatid kaya nagmamadali po kami dito kami dumaan sa busway,” said another. 

(I apologize, I'm a new ambulance driver. There was just a call in our barangay, we have to pick up a patient and deliver to the hospital so we hurried here and took the busway.)

According to a report on Balitanghali, the MMDA, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and Armed Forces of the Philippines were among the government agencies whose vehicles were flagged down for using the bus carousel.

However, a driver of one MMDA bus showed a memorandum issued by the agency stating that an MMDA bus may use the carousel lane. He also denied using the bus lane when he was apprehended.

"Nu'ng pinagbawal po kami, nandyan kami sa labas talaga. Oo, nagtiyatiyaga kami sa traffic. Kaya ako nagtataka, bakit titikitan mo. Eto naman 'yung memo eh,” the driver said.

(When our attention was called about the ban, we were outside the bus lane. We were enduring the traffic. So, I'm wondering why I was issued a traffic violation ticket. I have the memo here.)

The driver showed the memorandum issued on February 20, 2024, stating that MMDA shuttle buses are allowed to use the busway. 

Artes then noted that the memorandum was supposed to state "not allowed." 

"Ito naman po ay kanyang kinorrect… to indicate nga po na not allowed. So inaalam pa namin kung baka hindi po ito nakarating sa driver ng dalawang bus namin," he said.

(This has been corrected to indicate that it is not allowed. So we are still checking if the correction reached the driver of our two buses.)

The DOTr enforcer did not acknowledge the memorandum, so the shuttle still received a ticket.

“Iimbestigahan namin kung nagkaroon ng kalituhan sa agency ako na lang po personally ang magbabayad ng penalty nung driver,” Artes said. 

(We will investigate if there was confusion at the agency, and I will personally pay the driver's penalty.)

Under MMDA Regulation No. 23-002, the increased fines for the violation of both public and private vehicles are:

  • First offense – P5,000
  • Second offense – P10,000 plus one-month suspension of driver's license; driver must undergo a road safety seminar
  • Third offense – P20,000 plus one-year suspension of driver's license
  • Fourth offense – P30,000 plus recommendation to Land Transportation Office for revocation of driver's license

—Sherylin Untalan/LDF, GMA Integrated News