POSTSCRIPT / July 4, 2010 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Let’s make way if it’s the President

MAKE WAY: That spectacle of the President of the Republic strapped to the front seat of his Land Cruiser being swallowed by the usual Friday afternoon traffic on EDSA despite his security escorts and the No. 1 license plate on his bumper is a wake-up call.

While we laud President Noynoy Aquino’s setting a good example by dramatizing his resolve to stop the abuse of “wang-wangs” (sirens), we want him to be able to move around as safely and as speedily as possible.

The Chief Executive has made the point also of stopping at red lights, whose color — to many of us city drivers – seems to be only persuasive, not coercive.

Dapat naman sana, so as not to unduly delay our President, traffic officers should make sure the light miraculously turns green when No. 1 heaves into view. The President is traffic top priority.

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ROSARY-LONG: The President’s being snarled in traffic should enrage him enough to order the proper officials to do something about the solid state of vehicle movement in critical areas in the national capital.

That Friday, the Commander in Chief was late by some 30 precious minutes for the turnover of command of the armed forces chief of staff. Grizzled gunners will tell you that in war, a battle could be lost by a five-minute delay in swinging into action.

It used to be that a person commuting on EDSA from Monumento to Makati could finish praying the Rosary during the ride. Now, he can finish all the four mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous) before he gets to his destination.

This Calvary may be good for his soul but not for his mortal body, not to mention his sanity and productivity.

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MAN-HOURS LOST: Aside from possibly losing his wallet to pickpockets, a worker can lose three extra hours daily commuting round-trip between Monumento in Caloocan to the other end of EDSA in Pasay.

Multiply this man-hour loss by the thousands of workers having to endure EDSA traffic everyday and you get an idea of the staggering losses to the individual and national products on just one commuter line per year.

The slo-mo traffic, compounded by the utter lack of discipline of drivers, plus the wang-wangy abuse of egomaniacs loose on the road is a microcosm of what ails the country. The madness on the road reflects the lunacy reigning in the land.

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THE LAW: On the unauthorized use of sirens and blinkers, one realizes by listening to comments on the radio that while we are against the abuse of those gadgets, most of us are ignorant of what the law actually says.

So, whether you have read it elsewhere or not, let me share this short item on the subject prepared by lawyer Dennis Funa quoting the law.

“Presidential Decree No. 96 (Declaring unlawful the use or attachment of sirens, bells, horns, whistles or similar gadgets that emit exceptionally loud or startling sounds, including dome lights and other signaling or flashing devices on motor vehicles and providing certain exceptions therefor) dated Jan. 13, 1973 expressly declares that:

“1. It shall be unlawful for the owner or possessor of any motor vehicle to use or attach to his vehicle any siren, bell, horn, whistle, or other similar gadgets that produce exceptionally loud or startling sound, including dome lights, blinkers and other similar signalling or flashing devices.

“2. The gadgets or devices mentioned above may be attached to and used only on motor vehicles designated for official use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Commission, Police Departments, Fire Departments, and hospital ambulances.”

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VIOLATIONS: The only officials exempted from the ban are the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker and the Chief Justice.

Funa noted that PD No. 96 directs that any devise or gadget caught in violation “shall be subject to immediate confiscation.”

In case of a second or subsequent offense, the offender “shall be prosecuted for violation of this Decree” and “upon conviction xxx shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for six months and/or fine of 600 pesos.” In addition, the certificate of registration of the vehicle caught with the device or gadget shall be cancelled or revoked.

He said the unauthorized use of sirens or blinkers entail a criminal sanction. Any public officer who violates PD No. 96 may be held accountable for either grave or simple misconduct, depending on the circumstances.

The administrative accountability is given more force by a presidential directive ordering all government offices and agencies to strictly adhere to the provisions of PD No. 96.

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MORE RULES: RA No. 4136, the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, also provides that “(n)o horn or signaling device emitting exceptionally loud, startling or disagreeable sound shall be installed on any motor vehicle.”

Metro Manila Development Authority Regulation No. 03-005, dated May 22, 2003, entitled “Banning the installation of loud power horns, horns of varying sounds, sirens (wang-wang) and other similar devices that produce exceptionally loud or startling sound on all types of vehicles traversing along the thoroughfares of Metro Manila,” reiterates PD No. 96. But instead of mere confiscation, the MMDA imposes “outright destruction of the prohibited device at the place of apprehension.”

Funa stressed that members of the Cabinet and of the Congress, councilors and mayors, by themselves, are not authorized to use sirens no matter how late they may feel they are for a meeting or appointment.

While the use of sirens (and their variations) is repeatedly prohibited by various issuances, he noted that their sale and importation as car accessories continue openly.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 4, 2010)

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