PROMPTED by the unabated reports of vehicular incidents in Cebu City’s main thoroughfares, Mayor Tomas Osmeña issued Executive Order No. 34 prohibiting drivers from counterflowing or driving to the left against an oncoming traffic.
Counterflowing as opined by experts from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is a form of reckless driving with a corresponding penalty or fine as provided for by both local and national laws.
Article II, Section 41 paragraph (a) of Republic Act 4136 or The Land Transportation and Traffic Code of 1964 states, “The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center line of a highway in overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible, and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking or passing to be made in safety.”
Counterflowing or driving to the left is therefore a traffic violation and in order to make the law clearer and unambiguous, an appropriate local traffic code or ordinance needed to be made and implemented to ensure a normal vehicular flow of traffic and to make our streets safer and trouble-free.
A strong political will is of paramount importance particularly during this time when most of the drivers and motorists deliberately ignore traffic laws and regulations, jeopardizing the safety of all other road users. I can say with pride that Mayor Tomas Osmeña is a good political leader, focusing on addressing the traffic woes which if left unattended to may cause inconvenience and discomfort to the people in general.
It is likewise very clear that under Republic Act 386, Article 694, the City Mayor can issue an executive order to give more teeth to the civil code or make local traffic laws and regulations through the city council, e.g., to apprehend a driver and to impound his vehicle for violating traffic rules.
The Civil Code speaks about the impounded vehicle being considered a nuisance, meaning it hinders and interferes with the normal and smooth flow of traffic resulting in possible loss of lives and damage to properties. In line with this, it rests within the power of the mayor to issue an executive order for the safety and welfare of the rest of the drivers, pedestrians and the riding public.
We can then safely deduce from the above-mentioned facts that counterflowing is permitted only if the other side is clear of oncoming traffic and in the prudent judgment of the driver he is way clear of overtaking the other vehicle ahead of him. And impounding a vehicle following a driver’s violation of traffic rules is in conformity with existing traffic laws as mentioned earlier.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña may receive both praise and flak for issuing and implementing the executive order, but he doesn’t care about it as long as he makes the right decision that redounds to the great benefit of the many Cebuanos who have already grown tired of traffic woes and incidents caused by undisciplined drivers.--Joselito S. Berdin of Lapu-Lapu City