Emergency vehicles trying to make their way through will now be assisted by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforcers. This, after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that ambulances carrying patients be escorted by traffic enforcers and Philippine National Police–Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) on the ground.
The MMDA says it is up to the task: “The MMDA is ready to provide escort to emergency vehicles, particularly ambulance vehicles that have to squeeze through traffic,” agency spokesperson Celine Pialago told the media.
“When the need arises, motorcycle-riding traffic enforcers can be tapped to escort emergency vehicles all over Metro Manila so that emergency patients needing urgent care can reach hospitals the soonest possible time.
“On-ground traffic enforcers can also assist ambulances through traffic on roads congested with vehicles or when motorists refuse to give way.”
Pialago, however, stressed that only ambulances in emergency situations will be assisted by agency personnel. The official even said that some emergency vehicles only utilize their sirens to escape traffic, whether or not it’s for an emergency.
“Let’s be honest, hindi naman lahat ng ambulansya ay may sakay na pasyente, o emergency; ang iba sa kanila back to barracks na at hindi na rin bago sa lahat na may ilang nagte-take advantage sa paggamit ng siren para makaiwas sa traffic,” she noted, adding that ambulances in real emergencies must not hesitate to ask an enforcer for help.
“Just tap them—open your window, inform our constable on the ground whether it’s a traffic constable or our MMDA rider. If it’s our traffic constable, itatawag po ito sa Metrobase at ipapasalo po natin sa mga escorts natin. Kapag naka-tap naman po sila ng riders, immediate po ang assistance.”
Pialago said that MMDA personnel will first verify if an emergency vehicle really needs their assistance. She also emphasized that enforcers have already been doing this even prior to the President’s recent order.
Lastly, the MMDA clarified that it is against the law to stand in the way of an emergency vehicle. Under MMDA Resolution No. 08-01, the second lane from the curb of a major thoroughfare is the designated emergency lane. Motorists who fail to give way can be issued a ticket with a P1,000 fine.
Frankly, providing a clear path for emergency vehicles isn’t entirely up to the MMDA. You can do your part by giving way to ambulances and simply driving in an orderly fashion. When it comes to the overall flow of traffic in an emergency, every driver counts.