PASSING by several motorcycles with more than two persons riding, some without helmet at that led to "googling" for "Philippines, Helmet Law", which led to Administrative Order AHS-2008-015 or the "Rules and Regulations for the Use and Operation of Motorcycles on Highways" written in 2008 and the United Nations Vienna Convention for Road Traffic in 1968, forty years before the Administrative Order.
Reading through both makes one realize that there is really a wide, seemingly unbridgeable gap between government commitments and laws as against implementation and compliance.
Almost two years ago, AO AHS-2008-015 set the speed limits for motorcycles: 80 kms/hour on open country roads with no blind corners and no habitation on the sides (which is almost non-existent in the Philippine setting; 40 kms/hour on "through streets" or boulevards clear of traffic with no blind curves; 30 kms/hour on city and municipal streets with light traffic; 20 kms/hour through crowded streets, approaching intersections at blind corners, passing school zones and passing stationary vehicles.
We say, in Davao City alone, the vehicle that is running at a steady P40kms/hour in any city street unless it's decelerating for the next kanto is your neighborhood garbage truck. And that is because they are strictly ordered to maintain that maximum speed lest be booted out of the contract. All other vehicles, except when stuck in traffic or behind a trisikad, are running faster than the prescribed speed.
Almost two years ago, the AO says, only one back rider shall be allowed on a motorcycle or scooter who must be provided with a seat and footrest. But around us we see motorcycles zipping by with the whole family tucked one in front of each other, and an occasional baby hanging on the mom's arms.
There's a lot others, all of them not followed.
But that shouldn't surprise us since it's just a set of rules and regulations laid out by a government agency, anyway. If it's not implemented, the people will not even notice. That's how it has always been in the Philippines anyway; where a country is ruled by people who love making rules and peopled by people who can hardly obey one.
The more outrageous realization was that the Philippines is a signatory of the United Nations Vienna Convention for Road Traffic in 1968, which lays down guidelines on road and vehicle use, among which states:
"Every load on a vehicle shall be so arranged and, if necessary, stowed as to prevent it from: (a) Endangering persons or causing damage to public or private property, more particularly by trailing on or falling on to the road; (b) Obstructing the driver's view or impairing the stability or driving of the vehicle; (c) Causing noise, raising dust, or creating any other nuisance which can be avoided."
Obviously, whoever crafted these never imagined a 'trisibot'.
Again, although indeed the realization is outrageous, the reality is not surprising, and that is the sad part of all these.
When people now only shrug off the fact that a law is not being followed nor implemented, then we have a growing societal problem that brews anarchy and sheer arrogance to and of authority.
When reckless motorcyclists riding with half their butts off the seat -- most of them with fake license plates and without driver's licenses -- zoom past, forcing law-abiding motorists to quiver in fear of their own safety, then we know it is really anarchy that rules over our roads.
All because there are rules that no one has the heart to fully implement and the cocky reckless motorists do not even know exist. And to think, these are but simple rules on personal safety at that.