Wanted: erring drivers

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Saturday, June 14, 2014


THERE’S a photo of four drivers being led to court by police that came out in Saturday’s issue of Sun.Star Cebu.

It’s hard to explain the looks on their faces, but somehow the song “Bewitched, bothered and bewildered” comes to mind. I’m not really sure about “bewitched,” but they certainly do look “bothered” and “bewildered.”

“Bothered,” because they were probably at home, listening to their favorite radio drama, or enjoying a bottle of Emperador, or computing for swertres (am I stereotyping much?) when, lo and behold, the police came a-knocking at their door with a bench warrant. Either that, or they were flagged while driving their jeepney and that meant losing their day’s earnings.

“Bewildered,” because, come on, they’re going to court. They’re being led by police. And for what, making a stop at a “no stopping” sign, or making a left at a “no left turn” or smoking while driving?

I was even expecting one of them to scratch his head, look into the camera and ask, “Am I being pranked?”

Based on the article, they were probably on their way to execute an affidavit of desistance so the bench warrant against them could be dismissed.

In the last five days, the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom), with the help of police, has captured--yes, captured, like common criminals—eight of the 45 drivers who were issued a bench warrant by the Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 1.

But before I continue, here’s the definition of “bench warrant” for the legalese-impaired out there (and that includes me): “A bench warrant is a court order authorizing the seizure of a person in order for them to appear in court. It is commonly found in the situation of a person who is required to answer a charge of contempt or a witness who has failed to appear in court after proper service of a subpoena… If a person fails to appear in court when she has been properly ordered to do so, the judge is authorized to issue a bench warrant authorizing a law enforcement officer to arrest someone. Arrest under a bench warrant may usually be made at any time of the day or night.” This came from definitions.uslegal.com.

So yes, these drivers were issued citation tickets for traffic violations, which they were supposed to settle within a week. And yes, they were summoned but they failed to appear.

But no, the four drivers in the picture and the other four captured drivers will not be doing any jail time. They agreed to pay the P2,000 penalty.

So I guess it was all about the money…all about the dum dum diddy dum dum. And with 37 erring drivers still out there, that translates to P74,000. It may sound like loose change to a city like Cebu, but it’s still money.

That’s why Citom and the Cebu City Police Office have formed two teams—one for the north district and one for the south district—to locate the rest.

Those who elude authorities will discover that the Land Transportation Office won’t renew their driver’s license. Citom is making sure of that.
And with 42 of the violators being jeepney drivers, they won’t have a choice but to shell out the amount if they want to continue making a living.

Somehow, though, I know some of them will find a way to circumvent the law. They’ll come up with ingenious schemes worthy of a discombobulated plot just so they can get away with it when all they had to do in the first place was and is to obey traffic rules.

So maybe it wasn’t all about the money, after all.

***

A “Happy Father’s Day” greeting to my father, Romeo Rellon Briones Sr., who is the better writer.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 15, 2014.

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