Briones: The return of ‘anti-wang-wang’ policy

Publio J. Briones III
Publio J. Briones III

I was happy to learn that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. revived the “anti-wang-wang” policy that was put in place by the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III during the latter’s term.

The policy bans government officials and staff from using sirens and blinkers as their vehicles navigate through traffic while ignoring all road safety rules and regulations.

I was never a fan of the late President Noynoy. And it wasn’t because of his politics. I thought he was far too removed from the masses to know what they truly felt and what they needed. I thought he was vindictive and I still believe he won the election because of the sympathy vote. Lastly, I resented the fact that he took it for granted that all Filipinos would understand Tagalog.

Okay, that’s beside the point, but the thing is I was all thumbs-up when Noynoy banned “wang-wang.”

I’m sure many of you have been forced to sit idly by while a convoy of vehicles with regular plates whizz pass you in heavy traffic escorted by several motorcycles with sirens blaring.

Sad to say, in my experience the number one violator are the police.

I should know.

I walk past the headquarters of the Police Regional Office 7 along Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City almost every day, and I have witnessed on several occasions vehicles emerging from its gates preceded and followed by motorcycle officers with their distinct sirens.

I have no idea where they’re going, but trust me, I don’t think they’re off responding to any alarm.

Unfortunately, it would appear Administrative Order (AO) 18 of President Marcos does not cover the Philippine National Police (PNP) along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation, fire trucks, hospital cars and other emergency vehicles.

By the way, just because they are exempted from the policy doesn’t meant that some of them don’t abuse the privilege.

I have seen many ambulances that don’t have their sirens on while they’re coasting down an avenue, but as soon as they near a congested part of the road, they turn on their sirens.

Sounds familiar?

Back in 2021, then senator Panfilo Lacson urged authorities to go after the unauthorized use of “wang-wang.”

“No one wants to be stuck in traffic while heading for school or work, much less see the so-called privileged few zip past them in cars with wang-wangs blaring,” he said in a statement. “In some cases, the passengers of the vehicles with wang-wang are not even government officials authorized to use such items. But we can do something about it instead of feeling helpless.”

I hear you, Ping.

The current president must have experienced it for himself or somebody close to him had reported the rampant abuse of “wang-wang” that disrupted traffic and caused “unsafe road and traffic environments,” prompting him to issue AO 18, which was signed last March 25, 2024 yet but was only released to the public on Thursday, April 11.

“All government officials and personnel are hereby prohibited from utilizing sirens, blinkers, and other similar gadgets that produce exceptionally loud or startling sound, including dome lights, blinkers, or other similar signaling or flashing devices,” the AO read.

Marcos reminded that the use of such devices shall only be “under exigent or emergency circumstances or situations or to ensure the expedience and safe passage of emergency responders.”

In a press conference in Camp Crame on Thursday, the chief of the PNP Public Information Office clarified that “they had already been strictly implementing Presidential Decree 96, which was issued by the late President Ferdinand Marcos in 1973 to prohibit the improper and illegal use of sirens, blinkers and similar devices” even before the issuance of AO 18.

And yet there was rampant abuse. Hmm. Go figure.


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