Government officials and employees who misuse government ambulances face administrative sanctions and dismissal from government services, according to a bill recently filed by Senator Bato Dela Rosa.
Senate Bill No. 229, or the “Act Regulating the Use of Government Ambulances,” provides penalties for the misuse of government-owned anbulances and also aims to institutionalize the proper use of these ambulances.
Under Memorandum Circular No. 107, series of 1989, issued by the Department of Health, government ambulances could be used for withdrawing money from the bank, transport of personnel on night duty to and from pick-up/drop in centers and for medical outreach missions.
“I received several complaints that during emergency situations, patients have to pay for the gasoline for these vehicles.”
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 of these vehicles.
According to Dela Rosa’s 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.
At 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 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.
“Public officials and employees are prohibited from using ambulances for office service vehicle, for recreation and or personal use.”
The legislator’s bill prohibits public officials and employees from using ambulances as an office service vehicle, for recreation and or personal use. It is also deemed unlawful for 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 also 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.