Editorial: Respect for the law

“WE DO not have enough respect for the rule of law in his country.”

This is among the most memorable and relevant statements the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago had said while she was still alive. She made the statement following an interview during Inquirer's Meet the Inquirer Multimedia in May 2016. She was giving comments when asked if the Philippines is ready for a government that will be led by then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.

The late senator's statement is relevant up until this day. Filipinos - from those in the upper tier of the society to the lowest - continue to disrespect the law left and right.

Right here in Davao City some Dabawenyos continue to violate even its local ordinances. Those saying that these are not Dabawenyos who are violating the laws are not from here will have to take a better look of what is happening around them.

One of the glaring acts on disrespect for the law is the trash problem in Davao City. Though it is cleaner than other major cities in the country, trash finds itself in alley ways, empty spaces, and other areas that are out of sight for most people. A trip to Isla Verde would show you how much trash there is along the coast.

Some, if not many, are guilty of violations under the Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Among the prohibited acts under the law include the littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places and the mixing of source-separated recyclable material with other solid waste in any vehicle, box, container or receptacle used in solid waste collection or disposal.

Aside from the problem with trash, traffic violations in the city are clear as day. There are still drivers out there who cannot even properly follow the Right of Way rules stated under in RA 4136 Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

For example, some drivers would not respect the crosswalk in front of Victoria Plaza when pedestrians are given the green signal to cross. Some drivers would speed up and cut through the crossing pedestrians. Are they not aware that they are in violation of Section 42 (c) of RA 4136, which states "the driver of any vehicle upon a highway within a business or residential district shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing such highway within a crosswalk"? Likewise, some pedestrians continue to violate the anti-jaywalking policy of the city. Adding to this is the clear disregard of traffic signs and illegal parking in various parts of the city.

History would tell that some politicians and people of influence also disrespect the law as they bend it to suit their needs. Visiting the website of the Office of the Ombudsman would reveal the violations of many government officials.

It would be difficult to trace as to when many have become so disrespectful with the law. Others may choose to show disrespect towards it after seeing its imperfections. Some may think they can go away with disrespecting the law after seeing that some people in power disregard the law too. Some hate the law we have in place as some of it may not help those who truly need help. The lack of proper implementation of the law and some peoples' lack of understanding for it may have also contributed how some is disrespecting it.

Senator Defensor-Santiago may have crossed to the afterlife. However, some of her words still bring to the surface the sad reality we are in. In our society now, is there still a way to bring people to respect the law again?


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