We all know of the “exploits” of the MMDA New Task Force Special Operations Unit’s (NTFSOU) head honcho, Col. Edison “Bong” Nebrija. From clearing operations, towing away illegally parked vehicles, and looking out for and apprehending EDSA Bus Lane violators, Nebrija’s done it all. In a twist of events, the agency had to place the Task Force leader on preventive suspension. The reason? A misunderstanding with Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Junior. What happened, exactly?
MMDA’s Bong Nebrija gets into “argument” with Senate’s Bong Revilla
In a nutshell, Nebrija and his team in the MMDA have been conducting operations against EDSA Bus Lane violators. As part of their mandate, they had to ensure that aside from buses, the only other types of vehicles that would pass along the exclusive lane can only be emergency vehicles or specific and clearly-marked government vehicles that are likewise responding to emergencies.
According to reports, one of Nebrija’s constables radioed in that a government official’s convoy was traveling along the EDSA Bus Lane, and it was alleged that the convoy was Sen. Bong Revilla’s. According to Nebrija, he confirmed with the constable if the Senator was, indeed, inside one of the vehicles. When he was answered in the affirmative, Nebrija explained that he made a “judgment call” and “out of courtesy” to the Senator, let his convoy use the Bus Lane.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Sen. Revilla belied the claim that he had any part of any convoy “violating” the Bus Lane. The Senator explained that he takes a different route and that taking EDSA was “just not possible” to happen. Revilla was angered by Nebrija’s statement that he was allegedly allowed passage along the Bus Lane.
Revilla went so far as to say that he would not accept the apology from Nebrija of the MMDA and went so far as to say that this was likely a smear campaign and that he would lobby for the government’s budget allocation for the MMDA and its projects to be returned.
In the hours that followed since the news broke, MMDA’s Nebrija has gone online and took accountability for everything that has transpired, and for angering the Senator. “As the commander of the task force, the buck ends with me. I accept the responsibility. Kung isu-suspend ako ni [If I will be suspended by the] chairman so be it,” he said.
“I would like to apologize. I will apologize. I’m really sorry. I already apologized kanina [earlier]. Tao lang po tayo lahat tayo nagkakamali… Ako na po ang sasagot noon [We are human, we make mistake. I need to make decisions. It is not to ruin the senator [We’re humans and we make mistakes. I will take the responsibility. I needed to make decisions. It is not to ruin the senator],” Nebrija added.
Eventually, Sen. Revilla did have a change of heart and has since accepted the apology of the MMDA official. “Sa dami na ng mga pinagdaanan ko sa buhay, ayaw ko nang mangyari ang maling paratang [After all I’ve gone through, I don’t want any more false accusations]. Masakit dahil maba-bash kami…Pero okay lang [It hurts being bashed… But it’s okay], I accept your apology. I’ll leave it to you, chairman, kung ano ang magiging desisyon mo kay [whatever your decision will be for] Col. Bong Nebrija. Sa akin lang [On my part] I hope you (Nebrija) understand kung bakit naging ganito rekasyon ko [why I reacted this way,” Revilla was quoted as saying.
Revilla had likewise expressed that he will no longer pursue the recall of the approved budget that was granted by the government for the MMDA’s use.
Many people do not take kindly to MMDA’s Nebrija’s works and operations. It is undeniable, though, that the greater majority are in support of him, his team, and his efforts. The most lauded of Nebrija’s “traits”, if you will, is exactly that. “Will”. Many see that despite the naysayers and everyone against him and the MMDA’s projects and ops, they are simply upholding laws – existing and newly implemented ones – and that these are all being done in the name of order and safety of all. Can we fault an element of the law for simply carrying out one’s sworn duty?
Yes, Nebrija did make a judgment call, and this call was against the essence of the EDSA Bus Lane’s exclusivity. A call that was meant as a courtesy to a Man of the Senate that was turned topsy-turvy due to disinformation has led to this development that you have read about thus far.
If anything, what we can take away from this are three things. First, being gracious enough to accept an apology for an unintentional, no-malice-intended error. Second, being humble enough to apologize for one’s mistake. And third, taking accountability and responsibility for those under our wing. As leaders, one cannot – must not – expect any less from them.