SENATOR Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is pushing for a bill that will limit the use of government ambulances.
Senate Bill 229 otherwise known as an Act Regulating the Use of Government Ambulances, Providing Penalties Therefore and for Other Purposes, aims to institutionalize the proper use of government-owned ambulances.
Dela Rosa said government officials and employees who misuse government ambulances must face administrative sanctions and dismissal from government service.
Under Memorandum Circular No. 107, series of 1989, issued by the Department of Health, ambulances could be utilized for withdrawing money from the bank, transport personnel on night duty to and from pick-up/drop in centers and for medical outreach missions.
However, Dela Rosa said he received several complaints that government ambulances are being used for personal purposes and that during emergency situations patients have to pay for the gasoline for the vehicles.
According to the bill, any government ambulance assigned or donated to local government units shall be under the joint custody of the local chief executive and a health officer. Both shall be jointly liable for any violation committed under the Act.
Upon the end of the local chief executive’s term of office, he or she shall turn over the custody of the ambulance to the proper authority within 15 days from his last day in office. Likewise, the health officer of the local government unit shall do the same from his last day in office.
Failure to return the ambulance on the appointed date, whether it was acquired using government funds or donated for government use, shall result in perpetual disqualification from public service with forfeiture of retirement benefits.
The local chief executive shall be required to dispatch the ambulance to the patients without unnecessary delay during emergency. He or she shall also be required to appoint at least one regular driver for each ambulance and ensure the vehicle has sufficient gasoline and regular maintenance.
The Dela Rosa bill prohibits public officials and employees from using ambulances for office service vehicle, for recreation and or personal use. It is also deemed unlawful by individuals or entities to use the ambulance for private use and to paint over or allow the painting over of any government ambulance to circumvent the provisions of the Act.
Public officers and employees are prohibited from collecting fees from patients or discriminating patients from using government ambulances due to religious beliefs, gender, economic status, public policy or good customs.
Violators of the Act face 30 days suspension from office for the first offense, six months suspension for the second offense and termination from service and forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from public service for the third offense.