FIRING LINE: Guilty before proven innocent


By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Watching the news last week, I caught a disturbing report about an ambulance being flagged for using the EDSA Carousel bus lane without a patient on board. Honestly, I thought for a second that it might have been a post-April Fool’s Day prank.

Who in his right might stop an ambulance with blaring sirens from using EDSA’s fast lane? However, as the GMA News report concluded, it became clear how solidly strict or rock stupid the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has become.

The report said that the MMDA had, in fact, issued traffic violation tickets to four ambulances earlier.

In its defense, the MMDA pointed out that even military and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) vehicles are barred from using the special busway, but not an MMDA bus that has been issued some sort of special permit.

Back to the ambulances, Firing Line raises concerns about how poorly the MMDA prioritizes their essential service and how this traffic regulation impacts their response as “emergency hospitals on wheels.”

I understand that many ambulances use the bus lane on the pretext that they need to fetch patients. Thus, the ban. But what if a particular ambulance is actually on its way to fetch a patient? Of course, time is vital.

Ano, mamamatay na lang sa kahihintay sa traffic sa EDSA? Ayaw ipagamit and bus lane dahil sa duda? The analogy that prevails here is like saying: Guilty unless proven innocent. Am I right, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla?

There must be another way or system to vet the ambulances’ claims. Perhaps an ambulance service management “mission order” with details indicating the name of the patient, address to be picked up, hospital destination, effectivity date, and time period the mission order is valid.

But still, for me, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Do not stop those ambulances with their emergency lights blinking. Anyway, violators face hefty fines and potential license suspensions – a painful yet fair penalty for trying to fool the system. 

PNP Chief selection

Just last week, I scored the selection process for the new Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief for such a dilly-dallied appointment that made the President a poster boy for indecision.

That Firing Line issue had DMs streaming into my socials, educating me on how contentious, muddled, and corrupt the process of choosing the next top cop has become.

I was told that a certain Cabinet boys’ club intervened, delaying the appointment. On top of that, lobby money was changing hands.

If there’s an ounce of truth to it, that’s a dirty way of settling among officers and gentlemen who’d have the President’s favor, apparently without him even knowing it!

To be clear, I NEVER said Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil became Chief PNP because of dirty money, bribery, or “pitsa.” Perhaps these whispers come from disgruntled men and women in the ranks.

Either way, that’s a horrible shame; so it becomes incumbent upon the Commander-in-Chief to be more prompt, discerning, systematic, and, most of all, transparent in appointing the next top general.

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