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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

FILIPINOS are known as sticklers for rules in the Philippines the same way flies get stuck on plain paper. Rules, or laws, are often good on paper but refuse to stick to our streets.

Take a look at some of our laws. We have the Republic Act 8750 or the Seat Belts Use Act of 1999, but how is our law enforcement agencies enforcement of them? Spotty at best.

Then there’s the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 that bans smoking in enclosed or confined areas such as schools, public transportation terminals and offices, and building such as private and public offices, recreational places, and restaurants.


The law says that smoking shall be ABSOLUTELY prohibited in the following public places: public conveyances and public facilities such as bus stations, restaurants and conference halls, except for separate smoking areas.

Another law says the same thing. Republic Act No. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 prohibits “smoking inside a public building or an enclosed public place, including public vehicles and other means of transport.”

Just visit our north and south terminals and see how “absolute” is defined in practice. Do security guards or law enforcers even bother to tell smokers to dispose of their lighted cigarettes?

I even see some smokers inside the Hall of Justice-Bacolod. The men’s room is where they often flout the law. The security guards told me they tried to stop these smokers but they just ignored them.

I’m getting my camera ready to take photos of these people as a basis for filing a complaint and name and shame them on social networks. So smokers, beware. Don’t even think of making my day.

Another law that is followed more in the breach is Section XIII of City Ordinance No. 338, Series of 2003, that created the Anti- Jaywalking Unit was created under the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office Enforcement Unit to apprehend jaywalking violations. Violators will be meted a P100 fine, or asked to render community service for half a day.

So how did the AJU perform? Let our readers be the judge. The City Police Traffic Management Unit records show that deaths caused by vehicular accidents rose to 19 from road accidents, compared with the 14 listed last year. And we’re just halfway through the year. Are we expecting more deaths by year-end?

TMU head Chief Insp. Luisito Acebuche said most of the victims were pedestrians who jaywalked. He added that they reminded the public to avoid jaywalking, but many still defy the traffic rule.

I would like to remind Acebuche that CO 338 says “APPREHEND,” not remind. No wonder our traffic enforcers look the other way when they see jaywalkers.

Acebuche emphasized that injuries or deaths can be prevented if only motorists and pedestrians strictly follow traffic rules and regulations.

How about the TMU or the AJU just simply apply the traffic rules? After all, traffic enforcers are on their toes when they accost erring drivers. What can’t they simply throw the book at jaywalkers?

Maybe misery loves company. Bacolod is following the example of Metro-Manila. There, 54 percent of road accidents were caused by jaywalkers. The MMDA’s Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System recorded 174 pedestrian deaths last year after being hit by speeding vehicles. A total of 5,348 jaywalking-related accidents were recorded last year as compared to 4,951 in 2010, of which 167 were pedestrians.

Let me recall and rephrase what 34th US President Dwight Eisenhower said: “The clearest way to show what the rule of law in our streets means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.” Can we expect more deaths in the absence of that rule of law in our highways?

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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 13, 2012.


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