Driving Academy for gov’t drivers?

I READ Tony Perlas’ letter about his vehicular accident in Baguio and the alleged abuse of power of Neda Regional Director Leonardo N. Quintos Jr.  (Inquirer, 12/28/12). I hope that President Aquino, who spent his Christmas holiday in Baguio, read the letter and took immediate action on the matter. It would have been great if P-Noy, before returning to Manila, had summoned Quintos to the Mansion House. However, the President can always ask the Neda director general to look into the matter and report to him what really happened.

The case of Quintos’ driver reminds me of  a formal proposal I made 25 years ago to President Corazon C. Aquino, P-Noy’s mother. Unfortunately, nothing came of it since the Office of the President—from the Office of the Executive Secretary to the Presidential Management Staff—was then, as it is now, not well-run. Seems like the same old story repeating itself.

Precisely because drivers of government vehicles have a great responsibility to follow traffic rules and regulations and to drive properly, I recommended that the national government first ensure that they are qualified to drive. This can be done by creating a Driving Academy, under the Department of Transportation and Communications, that will train and test prospective government drivers, including those of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. At present, the practice is to just hire anyone with a driver’s license regardless of how the person drives. We all know how easy it is to obtain a driver’s license from the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Just look at all the reckless drivers, particularly those driving public utility vehicles—buses, jeepneys and taxicabs.

A former chief of police of Muntinlupa told me some years back that even the PNP had a hard time finding policemen who knew how to drive properly. To this day, this is most evident: police patrol cars are parked permanently in police stations only after a few years of use because policemen driving them have wrecked them through misuse and abuse. I have personally seen such patrol cars; in one instance, I even helped get one (a Toyota Corolla) fixed in our former place in Pasig at a significant cost. Both the Pasig chief of police and other police officials were grateful for the assistance.

The Aquino administration is already on its third year in office. One of the things it can do is to immediately put up this Driving Academy under the DOTC. The private sector like the Automotive Association of the Philippines (AAP) can help here. This can be a good project that Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya can easily organize, given his clout and capability.



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Tags: driving academy , government drivers , letters , Road accidents

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