By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

EDSA BUSWAY. Metro Manila Development Authority personnel flag down a vehicle with emergency lights along the EDSA busway in Mandaluyong City on Nov. 13, 2023). The Department of Transportation on Friday (Nov. 17) specified the government vehicles that are allowed to use the busway aside from authorized buses and emergency vehicles. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday specified the government vehicles that are allowed to use the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) busway aside from Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-authorized buses and emergency vehicles.

In a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon interview, DOTr Command and Control Operations Center head Charlie del Rosario said five high-ranking government officials are allowed to use the EDSA busway—the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, Speaker of the House, and the Chief Justice.

“Lima lang po ang pinapayagan na rito, maliban po doon sa mga pwedeng dumaan tulad ng on-duty ambulances, fire trucks, Philippine National Police (PNP) at saka iyong mga service vehicle ng mga government agency na involved sa EDSA Busway project (There are only five that are allowed to pass through here, that’s aside from on-duty ambulances, fire trucks, PNP, and service vehicles of government agencies involved in the EDSA busway),” del Rosario said.

The announcement, he said, is based on the request of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to specify the exemptions to the EDSA busway instead of relying on the personal judgment of enforcers.

“Mas maliwanag may dokumento at ito na po ang magiging batayan ng enforcement activity natin sa EDSA Bus Carousel (It is clearer if there’s a document and this is going to be the basis of our enforcement activities in the EDSA busway),” he said.

He said other vehicles serving as escorts for those five high-ranking officials are also allowed to pass through EDSA busway.

He said other high-ranking officials such as ambassadors, congressmen, and cabinet members are not allowed to pass through the EDSA busway, with enforcers now forbidden from making a judgment call as to who to allow through the exclusive lane.

“Ang sinasabi natin na kami sa enforcement arm, hindi kami pwedeng magdagdag o magbawas kung ano man iyong nandito sa dokumentong ito (Here at the enforcement arm, we’re not allowed to add or remove from whatever is stated in this document),” he said.

He said enforcers will be able to easily tell if the vehicle in question is part of the exemption as they will have protocol plates—license plates with low digits exclusively issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to high-ranking officials.

The policy, he said, is already effective following its issuance on Nov. 14.

Earlier, the MMDA called for the DOTr to update and specify the exemptions to the EDSA busway after MMDA Task Force Special Operations Unit Chief Bong Nebrija mistakenly identified and allowed Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to pass through the EDSA busway.

Revilla immediately denied the accusation and rebuked Nebrija for failing to issue a traffic citation ticket to the driver who used his name.

On Thursday, the two drivers who were involved in the incident were summoned to the MMDA and were issued traffic tickets after the vehicle owner reached out to the MMDA.

They confirmed that they lied about having Revilla as their passenger and that he does not own the vehicle they used in the incident. (PNA)