After a gathering of bloggers, together with [email protected], BrinkNotes, and Billycoy, we decided to check out the action at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The road leading to NAIA Terminal I was lined on either side with vehicles and there was traffic on the ramp going up to the terminal. So we went straight then made a U-Turn and proceeded away from the vicinity of the airport. At that time AM Radio was reporting that Joc-Joc Bolante had been brought out of the Northwest Orient Airlines flight he’d been on, in a wheelchair.
You could hear the pandemonium at the airport and then, within a few minutes, the reporters breathlessly announced that he’d been placed in an ambulance and that ambulance was leaving, probably bound for St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City. By this time, we’d gone past NAIA Terminal III, around the rotunda, and were headed to Edsa; more or less at this point, we encountered the ambulance, escorted by motorcycle cops, a PNP car, and a horde of media vehicles, zooming down the opposite lane.
We went on to Edsa, headed to Makati; the radio reported that the convoy had gone into Fort Bonifaco, then ended up on the Skyway, then turned onto Edsa. By this time we, too, were on Edsa, having gone through the tunnel, and we were in the vicinity of the Rockwell exit when we heard that Bolante’s convoy had just gone through the tunnel, too. I pulled over, turned on my hazard lights, and decided to intercept the convoy.
In a few minutes we saw the flashing lights of the ambulance and soon enough, a motorcycle cop heralded the arrival of the rest of the convoy. Then, a police car.
From that moment on, we became part of the convoy and, for a time, managed to keep apace with the ambulance itself.
Despite what seemed attempts by the police to shake off the media vehicles, we managed to keep up with the convoy as it zoomed down Edsa, at one point seemingly poised to go up the Greenhills flyover, then indicating it would enter Camp Aguinaldo or go down Santolan and then enter Camp Crame, and then trying to leave the media vehicles behind by squeezing through one of the Cubao lanes and then abruptly turning on to P. Tuazon and then ending up on E. Rodriguez, the street of St. Luke’s.
The YouTube video above, taken by [email protected] as I was driving, chronicles the last few minutes of the chase, and the removal of Bolante from the ambulance and into St. Luke’s, the President’s hospital of choice. He hopped out of the car and got a fine video of Bolante being brought out of the ambulance, all I managed, from the driver’s seat, was to take some snaps:
AM reporters said that as Bolante was wheeled out of the plane, he was clutching his chest, first with one hand, then the other, obviously demonstrating that he was experiencing some discomfort. What I found odd both from the reports and from seeing him brought out of the ambulance on a stretcher, is that the medics (if there were any on the ambulance) never even bothered to administer oxygen to Bolante, which is an elementary precaution taken in such situations when the patient may be experiencing heart problems.
As it turned out, the Manila International Airport Authority, together with the National Bureau of Investigation, were able to scramble an ambulance, an escort, and whisk Bolante away, with some pretty good chances along the way to either bring him to government facilities (the Philippine Air Force HQ, then various camps), or pull some other switcheroo if they’d managed to shake off the media vehicles. Even if that wasn’t there intention, the operation brought him to a private hospital where access to him could be controlled, and while Bolante’s being guarded by a security detail from the Senate sergeant-at-arms, he is under the authority of his doctors who can delay his being handed over to the Senate.
There is adequate time and opportunity for the Palace to be reassured he will toe the party line.
See Et Cetera Et Cetera for a parallel account of the car chase, as well as a sober appreciation of the dilemma presented by Bolante’s return.