Nalzaro: Legal and humanitarian issues

VEHICLES, mostly motorcycles, private cars, taxi units and public utility jeepneys have been impounded during the first two days in the implementation of the counter-flow order. When interviewed by reporters, some violators claimed they did not know of the executive order issued by the mayor. Others say they were in a hurry. Well, as the saying goes, “ignorance of the law excuses no one”

Again, I am for the strict implementation of the law against counter-flowing as I am a frequent victim. But what is lamentable is the “harsh penalty” of impounding the vehicle for 30 days. Why include the vehicle when only the abusive driver committed the violation?

Even the transportation and traffic code does not impound. What I know is that government agencies that has jurisdiction over land transportation matters can only impound a vehicle if the vehicle itself committed violations, like lack of registration, operating as a public conveyance without franchise, etc.

I solicited the opinions of some lawyers before writing this column and they all agreed that owners of the impounded vehicles can go to court through replevin. Replevin, also known as “claim and delivery,” is an action to recover personal property that was wrongfully taken or detained.

Well, these are only opinions and only the court can grant the petition of the owners of the impounded vehicles. The implementation itself of this executive order is somewhat questionable. It did not even define what is counter-flow. Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, who is a lawyer, says EO 034 as not in accordance with the law or ordinance. He also asked the mayor to clearly define the term “counter-flow.”

But let us set aside the legal aspect of this E0. What I am concerned is the effect of the one month impounding on the person or persons who had nothing to do with the violation. Consider these; mostly of the motorcycle drivers apprehended do not own the unit. Many were company-issued. If you are the company owner or manager, what would be your reaction?

The tendency is for the owner/manager to issue a memorandum requiring the driver to make an incident report and explain why the vehicle was impounded. What’s next would be suspension or termination, depending on his employee’s status. Then what will happen to the driver’s family?

The same thing will happen to private car drivers. If your personal driver commits the violation not in your presence, what will you do? If I were the owner, I will fire him out right away. Imagine being deprived from using my vehicle for 30 days. Good if the apprehended drivers were also the owners of the impounded vehicles.

As for the impounded taxi and PUJ units, do you think the operators will just shake the hands of their drivers upon learning that their units were impounded? I am sure that as of this time drivers were already fired and can no longer drive another unit. Blacklisted na. What will happen to their families?

Again, this is too harsh. On the other hand, If City Hall will just increase the administrative fine even up to P5,000 without impounding, then violators can look for money to pay the fine and they can drive again.
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