Roller skaters

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014


The cold winter weather here in Melbourne, Australia hasn't cooled down the people's rage over the conviction of Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by the Egyptian court.

Greste, who is from Brisbane, Queensland in Australia, was convicted together with two of his colleagues by the Egyptian court for allegedly aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who was not pleased with the decision, told the press that the Australian government will take steps to appeal the court's decision to the new Egyptian leadership.

The human rights group also said the prosecution and conviction of the journalists was politicized and this undermines the freedom of expression in Egypt. Journalists in London also protested Greste’s conviction.

Greste was convicted together with Al-Jazeera acting Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed.

Greste and his colleagues were arrested in December last year during the crackdown on Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. They were detained for nearly six months before the judgment was handed down.

The conviction of Greste and his colleagues has a chilling effect on press freedom and the journalists who may be similarly situated. Although this is far from the reality here in our country, we can never tell. It could happen to anyone of us.

Greste and his colleagues allegedly collaborated with their Egyptians co-accused by providing media materials as well as editing and broadcasting them.

Here, some of our brothers in media who are sympathizers of the government or are with anti-government organizations are lucky the present leadership is lax or just ignores them and, in a way, keep the freedom of expression burning.

***

The Mandaue City Council should not hesitate in passing an ordinance that would make the use of roller skates, roller blades and roller boards in public roads either for leisure or sport a felony.

We all know that roads are for motor vehicles and pedestrians. This kind of sport activity should not to be played on the road. Parents should also do their share by preventing their children, who are into this sport, from staying on the roads.

Roller skates, roller blades and roller boards should only be played in a special place or facility like what is being done in the US and other developed countries. The risk that roller skaters would be hit by speeding motor vehicles especially at night is apparent.

Mandaue city councilors should not wait for road accidents involving roller skaters to happen before the law is passed. The danger that lurks should be given strong consideration by Mandaue City legislators in passing the ordinance to ban roller skaters from the roads.

The measure proposed by Councilor Elstone Dabon is in keeping with the power of the local government to protect the limb and life not only of its constituents but also every road user.

The fine of not less than P500 and not more than P1,000 or imprisonment of 10 to 15 days or both at the discretion of the court is only a tap on the wrist of the violators. Neither could the confiscation of the equipment deter the violators.

A stiffer fine or longer imprisonment should be considered by the council to ensure that roller skaters won’t do their thing on the road. Otherwise, the ordinance would only be a paper tiger.

But the city government should provide a place or facility where the enthusiasts can play safely. The Lapu-Lapu City Government is doing the right thing in this regard.

If Lapu-Lapu city can provide a facility for roller skaters, roller boarders and roller bladers, I don't see any reason why Mandaue City Mayor Jonas C. Cortes and his councilors cannot. There is nothing wrong in duplicating some good deeds.

Last Sunday's show of defiance by roller skaters in the guise of celebrating "Go Skateboarding Day" was a taunt on the authority of our local government leaders.

The police even tolerated their illegal act on the pretext of avoiding a commotion. The police enforce the laws; it is the judge’s job to decide if the violators are guilty or not.

(atty.ellie@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 26, 2014.

Opinion

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