Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Opinion
Basta driver...
By Bong Lacson

May 08, 2018

RUDE AS I can ever get was I at a recent Talk Widus forum with officers of the Department of Interior and Local Government as guests.

I called their Seal of Good Local Governance award as patently stupid, given its being bestowed upon LGUs who epically fail in implementing such basic a department order as DILG MC 2007-001 – prohibiting tricycles on highways.

Pray, tell, how can an LGU be sealed with good local governance when it can’t enforce laws, when virtual anarchy rules its roads?

And I was referencing not only to the cities of San Fernando and Angeles there.

So, for the nth time – my own kind of road rage.

FIRST AND foremost in my gallery of people fit for abomination are passenger jeepney drivers.

Last and least in my list of people warranting even but the minutest semblance of esteem are tricycle drivers.

Maybe some hasty, generalized prejudgment there. But certainly, grounded on empirical knowledge. On first-hand experience. As a long-time, law-abiding motorist around the San Fernando-Angeles area. Of course, there are always specific exceptions to the general rule.

Most surely, even the most casual of observers have noted how the JODAs and TODAs routinely flout the law with the impunity usually attributed only to the very rich and the all-too powerful.

No Loading/No Unloading zones are not even suggestions to be considered, much less rules to strictly follow as passenger jeepney drivers drop and pick up commuters right under the very noses of traffic enforcers.

Passenger jeepney drivers keep to the road instead of “ramping” on the shoulders to load and unload commuters at any point of the highways. Passenger jeepney drivers – again! – take the outermost lanes and zoom through red lights right on plain sight of traffic enforcers.

Passenger jeepney drivers – again, again! – keep their vehicles’ headlights off in the dark of night. That’s no simple driving with reckless imprudence, that’s wanting – not waiting for – an accident to happen. So, where’s the LTO?

Tricycles traverse stretches of the national highways in direct violation of the law, being confined only to crossing them.

Tricycles keep to the innermost – and therefore, fast – lane at processional speed holding traffic and raising blood pressures of drivers behind them.

Tricycles are loaded to the roof with passengers and goods as they ply their merry way along the major roads and highways.

Tricycles have made street corners, many times even whole streets as their terminals, complete with sheds and karaokes.

Include in this group too, the padyaksikels who lord it all over city streets – making terminals atop bridges, counterflowing traffic at will, do pick-and-drop passengers wherever, whenever.

Want to undertake a study of anarchy in Pampanga’s principal cities?

Go downtown San Fernando from 6:30 in the evening onward and drive through a maze of jeepneys, tricycles and tri-wheelers parked, idling or slowly moving in all directions, in utter contempt of the right of way.

Drive through the obstacle course of rushing people and parked vehicles at Angeles City proper starting 5:30 p.m.

Jeepney. Tricycle. Basta driver, law breaker.

How did this come to pass?

Blame the laxity of law enforcers rising out of their fellowship – in Tagalog, kapalagayangloob – with the drivers as members of the same socio-economic class.

Blame the timidity of local government units to enforce the law in view of the “solid votes” of the TODAs and JODAs. Which, in actuality, is more myth than might.

A case in point, Mayor Tirso Lacanilao – God bless his soul – standing up to the threats of Apalit’s TODAs after he regulated not only their number and routes but the way they dress – no more sandos and slippers – and daring them not only to vote for his rival but even actively campaign against him. Tirso won by landslide in his three runs for the mayorship.

In an old piece here on the culture of impunity (Immunity index, June 21, 2012) pervading the nation, we cited the jeepney and tricycle drivers as templates. We wrote:

Culturization though starts small, petty things, which often repeated, graduate to big things. Like the culture of the lie attributed to Goebbels: If a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth.

Hence, if a wrong is done often enough, it becomes not necessarily right, but altogether tolerated, aye accepted as a no-wrong… …

[Jeepney and tricycle drivers] flout the law with nothing more than their stupid grins to flaunt, but nobody dares apprehend them. Not even reprimand them. And these are but the “small folk” far below the ladder of power and influence in local society.

If, in their “lowness” they can get away with these small violations, so can the high and the mighty get away with bigger violations…

…Ending the culture of impunity in this country should be invoked at each unpunished illegality, no matter how seemingly trivial.

Ending the culture of impunity in this country demands the draconian exercise of political will. By all persons in authority. With full respect to the rights of the people, but of course.

Will. Will not. A whale of a difference in the nut.

Put those TODAs and JODAs – come to think of it, their very names bespeak of their characters – in their proper place.

SO, I raged here in December 2014. So, I ranted here in August 2016. So, I still rage now, the traffic situation having even worsened, recorded for posterity in my almost daily upload on FB of the state of disorder on our highways.

And yes, then as now, the authorities just don’t care. Maybe, just maybe, some sort of vigilantism makes the solution here. No, not the tok-tok, bang-bang-bang kind though.


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