By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz
MANILA — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday said its enforcers are ready to escort emergency vehicles through traffic following orders from President Rodrigo Duterte.
MMDA spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Celine Pialago said emergency vehicles, particularly ambulances, may approach any MMDA street personnel for assistance.
“Just tap them, open your window, inform our constable on the ground—whether it’s a traffic constable or our MMDA rider,” Pialago said in a message sent to the media.
If the MMDA personnel do not have an escort vehicle, Pialago said they are instructed to call the MMDA’s Metrobase for immediate dispatch of escorts.
However, if an MMDA rider is approached by emergency vehicles, these will be able to provide immediate help.
Pialago said while their personnel will not automatically escort emergency vehicles without being asked, they will proactively provide assistance to those unable to reach them.
“Ang mga enforcers namin can verify the situation kung kailangan nila. Kung makita naman ng constable ang kundisyon sa loob ng ambulance, by common sense, ia-assist yan (Our enforcers can verify if there is a need for them. If our enforcers see an ambulance needing help, by common sense they will be assisted),” Pialago said.
She added they have already been escorting emergency vehicles and the President’s order will make it part of their official duties.
“Honestly, ginagawa na namin ito—kapag may nakakasabay ang mga riders natin na ambulances hinahatak na agad ito (Honestly, we already do this—whenever our riders find ambulances, they provide immediate escort). This time, we will just make it official and it is now effective upon receipt hereof,” Pialago said.
In an interview on Tuesday, Edsa special traffic and transport zone chief Edison “Bong” Nebrija said it is every motorist’s responsibility to make way for emergency vehicles and should be done without question.
“Kapag merong emergency responder, kailangan mag-give way ka. Hindi lang ambulansya—bumbero, pulis, kailangan mag-give way diyan (When there is an emergency responder, you need to give way. This is not limited to ambulances—fire trucks, police, you need to give way to these). You do not question or you do not doubt na may laman yan (that there’s someone needing help inside),” Nebrija said.
He added the motorcycle lane or the blue lane in Edsa is the lane dedicated for emergency vehicles and every vehicle within it and surrounding it must immediately make way.
On Tuesday, Pialago said drivers who fail to yield to emergency vehicles can be fined PHP1,000 payable to the Land Transportation Office.
MMDA enforcers can also give a PHP150 ticket to these drivers within their areas of jurisdiction.
On Tuesday, Duterte said he is considering ambulances to be escorted by transport authorities and police to breeze through traffic in Metro Manila to ensure that patients requiring emergency care reach hospitals on time,
“Maybe, maybe I will ask all itong — lahat na — Metro Manila, Highway Patrol (Group). ‘Pag may emergency, huwag lang ‘yang emergency na nagmamadali ito (When there’s an emergency, not just an emergency that involves a person being in a hurry to get to work),” Duterte said in a media interview after the oath-taking rites of Malacañang Press Corps on Tuesday night.
Duterte made this remark in response to a report from the Agence France-Presse, which said the worsening traffic in Metro Manila is causing patients to die en route. (PNA)