One more law to make people miserable
Republic Act No. 10913 (“The Anti-Distracted Driving Act” which took effect on Aug. 1, 2016) defines what it declares unlawful:
“Using a mobile communications device to write, send or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls,” including “… using an electronic equipment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations, and other similar acts”—while driving or temporarily stopping at a red light.
Of particular concern is “surfing the internet” which is likened to “channel surfing” and done randomly. It should not be confused with “browsing the internet” or “searching the web” which is done with specific objectives. To mostly uneducated traffic enforcers, however, such nuances mean nothing. All of those activities on any electronic equipment are the same and constitute violations of the law. Thus, a driver who uses Waze or other similar electronic means to navigate through hellish traffic in Metro Manila falls on such grey area which unscrupulous traffic enforcers can exploit for their personal gain.
We need only to look back at how airport authorities used to trifle with RA 10591 (“An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition…” which took effect on May 29, 2013). That law penalizes possession of any firearm without a license. In many instances that attracted global attention, our airport authorities were accused of harassing local and foreign travelers found to have a single bullet on them or in their personal effects. Thank goodness, President Duterte put a stop to that racket with a promise to make airport authorities “eat the bullet” if they “found” (read: planted) any again.
The irony of it all is that with almost 300 congressmen and 24 senators supposedly deliberating on the language and application of any
law, how can legislation be so screwed up and susceptible to so many weird interpretations by law enforcers who, by the way, have already fine-tuned their skills at extortion? Thus, instead of protecting the people, the laws—so carelessly crafted—are now being used to make their lives more miserable.
Are our lawmakers really worth the taxes we pay?
HENRICO H. LACEDA, [email protected]
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