MMDA: Convoys of 5 gov’t VIPs can use Edsa bus lanes
The country’s top five officials may start using the exclusive bus lane on Edsa starting next week, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, the MMDA announced that the Department of Transportation (DOTr), in a letter dated Nov. 14, approved its recommendation to allow the convoys of the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker and Chief Justice to use the Edsa carousel bus lane beginning Nov. 20 “to provide assistance in the performance of their duties.”
Under current rules, only city buses authorized by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board as well as emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks, and marked vehicles responding to emergencies are allowed to use the bus lane.
The DOTr’s approval of the MMDA recommendation to expand the coverage of those allowed to use the Edsa bus lane happened a day before the convoy of Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. was reportedly apprehended for violating the policy in Mandaluyong City.
But it turned out the claim made by MMDA Task Force Special Operations Unit chief Bong Nebrija was false and that the two drivers in the convoy had just name-dropped the senator.
Revilla also denied being in the apprehended convoy, saying he was in Cavite province at the time.
“My daily commute is from the south to the Senate and there is no possibility I will be on Edsa in Mandaluyong. When attending to official functions in the north, I take the Skyway from and back to the south,” Revilla said in a statement.
Nebrija, who went to the Senate to personally apologize to the senator, was suspended for 15 to 30 days by MMDA acting chair Romando Artes to pave the way for an investigation.
The task force chief explained that he was told by his apprehending officers the senator had used the bus lane.
The apprehending officers, in turn, told Artes that they got the information from the two drivers.
Both drivers, who were summoned to the MMDA head office on Thursday, admitted to Artes that they only name-dropped Revilla.
Artes said the two were each slapped a fine of P5,000 for using the exclusive bus lane, adding that it would be up to Revilla to file charges against them.
The MMDA started imposing stiffer penalties against violators earlier this week to deter repeat violators who were willing to pay the fine because they could afford it. From P1,000 per offense, the fine for public and private vehicles was raised to P5,000 for the first offense. For the second offense, violators face a P10,000 fine, a monthlong suspension of their driving license and must also undergo a road safety seminar.
Third-time offenders, on the other hand, would be fined P20,000 in addition to a year-long suspension of their driver’s license while a fourth offense would lead to a P30,000 fine plus a recommendation to the Land Transportation Office to revoke the violator’s driving license.