Traffic enforcer uses prayer, cool head to avoid road rage

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Saturday, June 8, 2013


WHEN it’s a robot that mans traffic, no one would cry if it gets shot, plowed by a truck, or blinded by the sun while on duty, said a member of the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom).

But Eugenio Reyes, 47, said he is not a robot, he is a husband, and a father to a 12-year-old daughter who dreams of becoming a journalist someday.

With the death of his fellow traffic enforcer Armando Daligdig, who was shot by a former police officer, he said he is starting to feel fear.

“Kuyawan ta uy kay naa ra gud ta dinhi. Dali ra ta mabalikan (I am an easy target),” he said. “Ampo lang gyod pirmi (I always pray).”

Reyes said he could be living a comfortable life with his family had he not abandoned his job in Saudi Arabia in 1998. He earned P15,000 a month, but the desert and the homesickness were too much for him.

“Mingaw kaayo didto (It was so lonely out there),” he said. “Layo man gud (It’s a far place).”

As an electrician, he installed wirings in the pipelines they constructed in Dammam, which is an oil-rich and hot region.

He did not finish his computer science course in college. He became an electrician after training at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

Reyes returned home and married his girlfriend, Eva Fortich.

He stayed in Cebu City and was accepted as traffic enforcer in 2000.

“Di ko ganahan malayo sa akong pamilya (I do not want to be separated from my
family),” said Reyes.

As a Citom member, he earns P10,000 per month. He also receives an allowance of
P2,000.

His income is augmented by Eva, 45, a teacher in a private university. His daughter Eugene Eve is a grade six student.

A diabetic, Reyes said there is no mandatory medical check-up for the enforcers since 2009.

It was a certain Lorna Yap who urged Reyes to apply as a traffic enforcer. She was assigned at Citom’s legal department.

Reyes said he has tasted all kinds of insults and threats from arrogant motorists, who violated traffic rules.

This includes a former police officer, who was dismissed from service for entering a motel with his girlfriend by using the patrol car.

He was also dragged by a taxi when the driver he accosted suddenly sped off.

“Pirmero ra man ang kuyaw (The first days are scary),” he said. “Maanad ra ka (You get used to it).”

He said he also worries about the future because he is only a casual employee. His contract is only up to six months.

The key to orderly streets, he said, is education. He suggested to include a subject about traffic laws in elementary.

The traffic enforcers should also be cool-headed and diplomatic when dealing with hot-tempered drivers, he said.

Reyes and his female partner are assigned in the vicinity of the Capitol building on Escario St.

He can only rest after rush hours.

He does not agree to the idea of arming traffic enforcers or letting robot manage the streets.

“Magdepende man gud na sila sila sa program and wala sad silay feelings sa pag-deal sa mga tawo (Robots depend on their programming and they don’t have feelings),” he said.

“Ug wala na sad miy trabaho (And we will lose our job).”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 08, 2013.

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