MMDA accepts ‘donation’ from Singson after bus lane violation

MMDA accepts P200,000 ‘donation’ from Singson after bus lane violation

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:05 AM April 16, 2024



MANILA, Philippines — After taking flak for his illegal use of the Edsa busway last week, former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson went on Monday to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) headquarters in Pasig City to personally apologize to the traffic personnel who apprehended him.

On top of paying the P10,000 fine—P5,000 each for the two vehicles in his convoy —Singson also kept his promise of giving a reward to the MMDA for doing its job. However, instead of P100,000 as he initially said, the amount was doubled to P200,000, with the politician-businessman clarifying that it was not a bribe but an “incentive” for the agency’s traffic enforcers “to be more hardworking.”


READ: Chavit caught on Edsa bus lane, enforcers apologetic


His gesture led to a warning from a Civil Service Commission (CSC) official that despite Singson’s “noble intentions,” accepting the money from him was, at the very least, unethical, or worse, tantamount to bribery.

In a press conference, MMDA Chair Don Artes said the P200,000 was a “no-strings-attached donation,” adding that no special treatment would be given to Singson or anyone caught violating the rules for the use of the Edsa bus lane.

According to Artes, the money will go to the agency’s “general fund,” and an official receipt was issued to Singson by the MMDA treasury division.

READ: Enforcing ‘walang wangwang’

No strings attached

“It will not be distributed to a particular group of personnel of the MMDA. This is considered a donation and will go to the general fund of the agency, which the Metro Manila Council (the MMDA’s policy-making body composed of the 17 Metro mayors and representatives from national government agencies) should allocate first before it can be spent,” he said.

“Just because we accepted the donation does not mean that [Singson] can now travel on the Edsa busway. There is no exemption here,” Artes added.


The Edsa bus lane is primarily for passenger buses, ambulances and marked government vehicles responding to emergencies. But convoys of the President, Vice President, Senate President, House Speaker and Chief Justice are also authorized to use it.

During the MMDA flag raising ceremony, Singson apologized for the April 8 incident in which his convoy was flagged down on the northbound lane of the busway on Edsa-Cubao, Quezon City.

“I am here to show and tell everyone that nobody is above the law, that what I did should not be emulated,” he said.

Law vs gifts

According to Artes, the politician originally wanted to give the reward to the traffic enforcers who apprehended him, “but we informed him that there are rules to be complied with in terms of government personnel accepting gifts or rewards.”

The MMDA official was referring to Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, enacted in 1989.

“We have studied the law, and we found out that our enforcers cannot directly accept the reward. But if there is an official receipt, our agency is authorized to accept donations,” Artes said.

But in a televised public briefing, CSC Commissioner Aileen Lizada said the MMDA should not have accepted Singson’s donation in the first place.

Lizada, an antigraft lawyer who served in the Office of the Ombudsman for more than a decade, also cited RA 6173, specifically Section 7(d), which bars public officials and employees from accepting “directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction, which may be affected by the functions of their office.”

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Violators may be punished with a five-year prison term and a P5,000 fine, as well as disqualified from holding public office.

TAGS: chavit singson, Edsa bus lane, MMDA

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