Home Opinion No trikes on national highways…ho-hum

No trikes on national highways…ho-hum

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“THE ROAD clearing operations and 'no trike on national highway’ campaign have
to be sustained… We urge our LGUs to sustain their successes to protect our
children from road accidents, especially with the coming return of face-to-face
classes.”

So declared, a few days back, outgoing interior and local government Secretary
Eduardo Año, adding that children, who “usually ride tricycles,” are exposed to
road accidents to and from school: “These policies on road safety can save lives
and reduce road collision deaths and injuries.”
He said local governments should activate its tricycle task force, apart from tricycle regulatory boards, to review its tricycle routes.

Yay, yay, yay. So pathetic of Año to even think that what his agency had been
preaching to deaf ears even before his coming would now find practice at his
going.

The DILG Advisory No. 2019-0016 that bans tricycles and pedicabs on national
highways is but an iteration of DILG Memo Circular 2007-001, which in turn
sprang out of Section 10 of Presidential Letter of Instruction No. 1482 Series of
1985 – harking back to Marcosian times – that tricycles are “prohibited to operate
along the national highway or any road which allows maximum speed of more
than 40kph, especially on well-paved, high-speed roads, unless special
tricycle/bicycle lanes on the shoulder are provided, except to cross.”
Yay, yaya, yay. Full Marcosian circle there.

Aye, the impotency of local government units tasked to enforce the law, even the
very ordinances they themselves enact, in full display for all to jeer at there. And
that’s only for the TODAs. As virulent are the JODAs.

It has become so recurrent a refrain in this corner that it has long been sounding
like a broken record, but this road rage in print remains relevant 24/7.
Basta driver…
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, counter flowing 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, kapalagayang-loob – 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 dressed – 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 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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