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Albay SP OKs ordinance banning misuse of gov't ambulances

To curb the blatant and frequent misuse of government ambulances intended to be utilized by sick constituents, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay approved on August 18, 2014 an ordinance entitled “Regulating the Use of All Government Ambulances in the Province of Albay, and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof.”

Authored by 3rd District Board Member Rhederick N. Riva from Oas, and co-authored by 3rd District Board Member Herbert S. Borja from Polangui, the ordinance aims to make government ambulances readily available to transport the seriously sick and injured patients requiring immediate medical treatment to or from a facility that is sufficiently equipped to handle the matter and save lives.

The ordinance states that it has been observed that in many instances, government ambulances have been gravely misused, to the detriment of the public.

Said vehicles, it notes, have been seen in recreational areas. There were also reports that fees have been collected for their use, defeating the very purpose for which they were purchased.

According to the ordinance, it is unlawful for public officials or employees to use government ambulances for personal use or as an office service vehicle.

It shall also be unlawful to use said vehicles for transporting patients deemed not to be in an emergency medical situation. Whether with fees or not, government ambulances cannot be used for private purposes.

It adds, government officials or employees shall not refuse the use of any government ambulance by patients who cannot pay fees, nor should there be any deprivation of use to any individual due to their gender, religious beliefs, economic status, or political affiliations.

Lastly, government ambulances cannot be used to transport cadavers, the ordinance reads.

The exceptions, however, include the use of the vehicles in official and authorized medical outreach missions and other hospital services and operations related to medical missions, delivery of medicines and other medical supplies.

Public officials or employees caught violating this ordinance shall be penalized, after due process, with a P1,000 fine, and/or imprisonment of 1 month for the first offense; a fine of P2,500 and or 6 months of imprisonment for the second offense; and a fine of P5,000 and or imprisonment of 1 year, without any prejudice to the filing of appropriate administrative charges, for the third offense.

In the Declaration of Policy, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay states that this ordinance was created to protect and promote the rights of the Albayano people to health.--Provincial Government of Albay

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