MORE than 40 vehicles, mostly motorcycles, were apprehended on Monday, February 5, the first day of implementation of Executive Order (EO) 034, which allows the traffic group to seize vehicles of drivers caught counter-flowing in Cebu City.
As of 6 p.m. Monday, enforcers of the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) impounded more than 40 motorcycles, five private vehicles, one taxi and one public utility jeepney (PUJ).
CCTO Operations Chief Francisco Ouano said these vehicles were caught counter-flowing on M. Velez St. and A. Soriano St. and in Banawa and Carreta.
“Our focus was in these areas because based on our monitoring, counter-flowing is rampant. This doesn’t mean that other roads are exempted,” he said.
All impounded vehicles were brought to the storage area of CCTO in the South Road Properties, where these will be kept for 30 days, as stated under Section 3 of the EO.
The violator will have to pay P500 as a fine for counter-flowing if there’s no other pending violation. The City will not charge him or her for the cost of keeping the vehicle in its property.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña signed the EO last Friday, and it took effect immediately after, but Ouano said they opted to implement it yesterday as more vehicles were expected to be on the road.
CCTO usually collects storage fees for seized vehicles but Osmeña said he waived it because he is not after the income that the campaign might generate. Osmeña said he wants drivers to observe discipline and follow rules while driving.
EO No. 034 goes after reckless driving pursuant to existing laws and provides for sanctions. According to Section 1, the order will cover all forms of reckless driving, but particularly driving left or more commonly known as counter-flowing, as defined under Republic Act 4136 or the Traffic Code of the Philippines and City Ordinance 801 or the Traffic Code of Cebu City.
Only emergency vehicles like ambulances, patrol cars, fire trucks and vehicles of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology that are legitimately using their sirens are exempted, Ouano said.
When CCTO began enforcing the order yesterday, Ouano said that many of the drivers claimed they were not aware of the new EO. But the rule against counter-flowing has been established long before and the offense is considered reckless driving, for which penalties have existed before the mayor’s EO.
“What is new here is that we are impounding their vehicles. Counter-flowing has always been a violation of traffic rules,” Ouano said.
Some of the motorcycle drivers who were apprehended yesterday also didn’t have a driver’s license, another violation.
The driver of the only PUJ that was apprehended yesterday, which travels from Labangon to Ayala Center Cebu, told traffic enforcers that he had to overtake the vehicle ahead of him.
“Counter-flowing is different from overtaking. When you overtake, you have to make sure that you’re within your lane. Once you touch the solid yellow lane, that’s the time you counter-flow because that’s not already the lane that is intended for you,” he said.
An official of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 said that the police will support the local government’s campaign against counter-flowing.
But Supt. Reyman Tolentin, PRO 7 spokesperson, said there is an exemption, such as when the police chase after criminals or respond to alarms.
Cebu City Police Office spokesperson Supt. Artemio Ricabo said that the police will help catch drivers. “If they are caught in the act and resists authorities like the enforcers, then our policemen can support the traffic enforcer,” Ricabo said. (With JOB)