POSTSCRIPT / November 15, 2012 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Seniors deserve better treatment

SENIORS, TAKE HEART: Visiting the Viva Gli Anziani retirement home for the elderly in Rome last Monday, Pope Benedict XVI told the seniors:

“The wisdom of life, of which (you) are bearers, is a great richness. The quality of a society, I would say of a civilization, is also judged by the way the elderly are treated and the place given to them in ordinary living. Those who make room for the elderly make room for life! Those who received the elderly receive life!”

The 85-year-old Pontiff said he came visiting not only as Bishop of Rome, but also as an elderly man visiting his peers. “It is beautiful to be elderly!” he exclaimed.

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SHABBY TREATMENT: But being old could also be frustrating, as in the case of a couple who went to buy pastries at Conti’s on Katipunan, Quezon City, and were made to wait for almost an hour just for a P59 discount for four items.

Izabella Enriquez (@IzabellaPh) reported on Twitter last Tuesday how the elderly customers availing themselves of the mandatory discount for senior citizens were pissed and left after being made to wait unusually long.

I hope Conti’s shabby treatment of seniors is not intentional. They do not only scale down discounts to a ridiculously low level (not 20 percent plus an exemption from the 12-percent Value-Added Tax under RA 9994) but take time giving it. I have had the same experience at their branch in Greenhills, San Juan.

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NOT EXEMPTED: As for my Postscript that MMDA traffic officers allow erring motorists with a senior on board to go scot-free, sorry but this has turned out to be off the mark.

Director Yves Gonzalez, officer-in-charge of the Traffic Discipline Office of the Metro Manila Development Authority, said that there is no such MMDA policy for seniors.

This may douse the spirits of readers Willy P. Natividad, Jose Basilio Romero and Augusto T. Austria, among the early emailers who wanted to know more about the supposed MMDA exemption for the elderly.

I have emailed them back: “I have just been told that this accommodation for seniors is NOT policy, meaning it is not true all the time. Those who claimed to have been allowed to go scot-free probably just had the luck of bumping into officers who were sympathetic to seniors.”

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NO DEPUTATION: Gonzalez also said it is not true that MMDA officers need deputation from the Land Transportation Office to enforce traffic laws in Metro Manila. He said they draw their authority from the MMDA charter.

My view is that not just any policeman or local traffic officer may perform the functions of the LTO in enforcing the traffic code of the Philippines. Local policemen and MMDA personnel, I think, need an LTO deputation to assume LTO duties.

There are other related legal questions such as whether or not a traffic officer may confiscate a license or, in extreme cases, detach and seize the license plates of a motor vehicle.

Reader Alexander Tan of BF Homes, for instance, asked: The Skyway police (above SLEx) get your license. Is this correct?

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REACTIONS: The sub-topic of “swerving” that sparked the discussion on MMDA’s traffic management drew readers’ reactions on related concerns. Samples:

Jojo Roxas: Not only Kotong Kops are guilty of accosting drivers for “swerving.” At the corner of Diosdado Macapagal Ave. and World Trade Center, traffic enforcers from Pasay City Hall have made a living out of that questionable violation. They apprehend motorists who either remained or changed lanes and turned right to Buendia. What is intriguing is the inner lane is designated for motorcycles. Countless drivers have been victimized by these enforcers.

(Retired Sandiganbayan Justice Raoul Victorino has told me at the Tuesday Club forum at EDSA Shangri-La of having been accosted in that area. But he got off without a citation.)

Rodolfo A. Lat: Have you noticed where traffic builds up? Always in places where there are obstructions such as pink fences, concrete separators, exclusive bus lanes, etc. Why does MMDA have to force all buses to pass through these lanes? Why not allow them to by-pass if they have no passengers to unload in these places? Also along Commonwealth Ave., since they have installed those so called concrete separators, traffic has become a mess. Businesses where there are these concrete separators have also suffered.

John Macapagal: Apprehending officers, whether MMDA or police traffic personnel, often do not know what traffic rules they are enforcing. Most of them do not even know the difference between a solid line and a broken line on lanes. The deputized enforcers of the Skyway Management on the Skyway do take away your license if you commit speeding violation.

Plutarco Benedicto: Last May we traveled north via the SCTEx. As we approached the exit in Tarlac, traffic police stopped us then got the driver’s license for violating the 100-kph speed limit. The officer told the driver to pick up his license in Quezon City. Is there any LTO office in Tarlac so the poor driver will not have to go all the way to Quezon City?

Edmundo S. Isidro: Pls double check your hotline. The reason it is busy or you cannot contact it is because I think it was erroneously typed. Try 136. It works wonders and has given me helpful information.

(It was el Señor Pacheco, sparring mate of Rene Jose of dwIZ’s “Doble Banda” [5-6 p.m., Mon-Fri], who first called my attention to my having miscopied MMDA’s Metro Base hotline 136 as 163. Calling 136, I learned that their mobile number is 0917-527730. There is another number — 0917-5618711 — in MMDA’s FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions] page, but the operator at 136 was not aware of it.)

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 15, 2012)

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