The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that the country’s top five officials may pass through the exclusive EDSA bus lane after a convoy got away with a traffic violation upon mentioning the name of Sen. Bong Revilla.
The DOTr, in a Nov. 14 letter to the Metro Manila Development Authority, said the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court may use the lane “to provide assistance in the performance of their duties.”
The officials have to inform the DOTr ahead of time, and once approved, the plate number will be given to traffic enforcers.
Only public utility buses, emergency vehicles like ambulances and firetrucks, and clearly marked government vehicles responding to emergencies may go, in accordance with MMDA Regulation No. 20-002.
When it comes to government vehicles, DOTr Command and Control Operations Center Chief Charlie Del Rosario told CNN Philippines' The Source on Nov. 16 that they pertain to those “performing duties and responsibilities within the busway” like construction, security, janitorial, and maintenance services.
But there are special cases, like when the Department of Social Welfare and Development needed to respond to a disaster.
On the morning of Nov. 15, MMDA officers apprehended a convoy passing the EDSA bus lane in front of SM Megamall but let it go after saying Revilla was inside, according to a report from MMDA Task Force Special Operations Head Bong Nebrija.
Revilla dismissed the report, saying his daily commute is from the south to the Senate.
“[T]here is no possibility I will be on EDSA in Mandaluyong,” he said in a statement. “When attending to official functions in the north, I take the skyway from and back to the south.”
He said he would ask the MMDA why his name was being “dragged and smeared,” even as he told them to have done their job.
Nebrija apologized to Revilla over the apparent wrong information, noting he didn’t see the senator personally and only based his report on what his men told him.
Nebrija was placed under preventive suspension for 30 days pending the investigation of the incident.
MMDA acting chairman Don Artes also personally apologized to Revilla, who accepted the apology and left it to the agency to decide what happens.
Last Nov. 13, the DOTr imposed higher fines and stricter penalties on unauthorized usage of the EDSA bus lane: P5,000 fine on the first offense; P10,000 fine, one-month suspension of driver’s license, and road safety seminar on the second offense; P20,000 fine and one-year suspension of driver’s license on the third offense; and P30,000 fine and cancellation of driver’s license on the fourth offense.