It’s neither legal nor illegal. This is how the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) treats the practice of motorcycle riders voluntarily escorting emergency vehicles, particularly ambulance vehicles that have to squeeze through traffic.
"Riders escorting ambulance units is not new to us," says MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago of the MMDA. "In fact, even if we have an operation may kasama kaming ambulansiya, hina-hagad nila mismo. It’s their way of helping. Basta do it cautiously. May kasama lang pag-iingat,” she adds.
Moto Sapiens got the reaction of Ms. Pialago through a phone interview because of mounting complaints we have received against riders who act as ‘hawi boys’ in escorting ambulance vehicles through heavy traffic. We are talking about unmarked, civilian-owned motorcycles here, not police nor MMDA motorbikes. In many instances, these 'hawi boys' appear to have no relationship at all with the patient on-board the ambulance, because they usually break away from the convoy as they please. But before they disappear into oblivion, they traditionally give the ambulance driver a 'thumbs up' sign to make sure they're okay as they part ways.
In using their 'size advantage,' this is becoming common practice, especially among the ranks of underbone and scooter riders. Some overzealous riders even tap the door or window of vehicles near the ambulance to get the attention of the driver before they force their way through the traffic. There are complaints against the escorting riders suddenly cutting the path of motorists in order to clear the traffic for the emergency team. The MMDA, however, considers this kind of road behavior unjustified. But again, MMDA says the free escort service is not illegal.
“We cannot stop them. We cannot apprehend them,” she pointed out. “Walang pagkakaiba ‘yan kung saan may emergency tayong nakita. Bayanihan…they want to help a person,” explains Celine. Bayanihan is a Filipino term for 'spirit of volunteerism.' With this gesture, it shows we have a bottomless supply of Bayanihan spirit. "Basta
Well, you heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. We’re pretty sure you’re itching to ask this: What if the riders damage a car or run over a pedestrian while escorting an emergency vehicle? Sorry, but we will leave the legal opinion to Top Gear PH columnist Atty. Robby Consunji and his column Wheels of Justice with regard to this issue.