What happens if you breach the ASEAN lane?

Aika Rey

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What happens if you breach the ASEAN lane?
The MMDA closed off two lanes along EDSA to be used exclusively by the 31st ASEAN Summit delegates' convoys

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a special lane. And you better not breach it.

Two leftmost lanes of EDSA were reserved for the exclusive use of VIPs and delegates to the 31st Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) Summit, causing traffic nightmare over the weekend as the Philippines prepared to host the event. The security-traffic protocol was also implemented during the ASEAN Summit last April and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in 2015.

While  the ASEAN Summit itself is held in Manila, delegates arrived at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which is why the ASEAN lane is also enforced around the Clark complex, along Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the North Luzon Expressway all the way to Metro Manila.

In the capital, the ASEAN lane starts from Balintawak in Quezon City to Magallanes in Makati City in both directions. It is also in effect along Buendia, Cultural Center of the Philippines complex, Fifth Avenue, Makati Avenue, McKinley, and Lawton.

Traffic cops allow the public to use the lane only when there’s significant time interval in between convoys.

Breach the ASEAN lane?

What happens when you try to use the ASEAN lane without traffic authorities’ say-so?

Your driver’s license can either be suspended or revoked, transportation officials said.

Last Saturday, November 11, actress and Binibining Pilipinas Universe 1982 Maria Isabel Lopez removed the divider cones along EDSA and sped through the ASEAN lane in an attempt to “outsmart” heavy traffic.

Lopez’s move was considered a “serious breach of security,” which prompted the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to ask the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to suspend or revoke her driver’s license.

LTO law enforcement director Francis Ray Almora said that since Lopez’s case has “no precedent,” there are no hard-and-fast rules for what penalties await her. “We will go back to the fact that driving is a privilege and not a right,” Almora told Rappler in a text message.

“Hence if LTO Assistant Secretary (Edgar Galvante) determines that Ms Lopez is not a right person to operate a motor vehicle, her privilege maybe suspended or revoked,” Almora said, citing Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

‘We won’t let it pass’

Violations of the protocols and rules set for the summit will not be tolerated, according to ASEAN security officials.

Lopez had apologized for breaching the lanes but officials said they will not let the incident pass.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde, the task group commander for route security, stood by the MMDA and LTFRB’s recommendation. He said that the incident should serve as a “stern warning and reminder to the public.”

In a separate statement, the ASEAN security committee said that Lopez’s behavior was “unacceptable” and will be “dealt accordingly.” 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) cautioned those who might replicate Lopez’s actions. “All violators should be held accountable for their actions,” the DOTr said in a statement. (READ: Maria Isabel Lopez draws flak for driving on ASEAN lane)

The interior department earlier announced the partial and total lockdown of certain areas around the metro during the summit. The public is advised to avoid the areas as much as possible.

The “ASEAN lane” will be enforced until the end of the summit. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.