Bus, jeepneys ‘exempt’ from antismoke-belching law
A news item in the May 5 issue of the Inquirer caught my attention: A “dry run,” conducted on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, for the full implementation of the Clean Air Act revealed “only 12 of the 88 vehicles flagged down” passed the carbon emission tests conducted by the Land Transportation Office, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Quezon City local government (“QC antismoke-belching tests find more flunkers than passers,” Metro).
When the law is finally enforced in earnest, first-time offenders face a fine of P2,000; second-time offenders, P4,000; and third-time offenders, P6,000 plus a year’s suspension of the vehicle’s registration. Quite hefty sums, those.
It reminded me of my own experience while driving along Roxas Boulevard some years ago to bring some relatives to the airport for their flight back to the United States. We were flagged down for a “random emission test” simply because our vehicle was an Isuzu running on diesel. Despite being shown photocopies of the LTO registration and current official receipt to prove the vehicle was brand-new and barely two years old, the guys in shabby uniforms insisted that we get in line for the mandatory check. As we could not afford the delay and the risk of missing the flight, I immediately thought of the next best thing: Bribe the sons of —–es.
On our way to the airport, we found ourselves behind buses and jeepneys emitting dark clouds of smoke and wondered how in tarnation did these monstrosities get past the line we were forced to fall in just a few kilometers back? It then struck us that only private vehicles were on that line. In gangster parlance, it was a shakedown. Obviously, bus and jeepney operators were already paying “tribute” and now immune from harassment. So it was time private vehicle owners also paid their dues?
Of the 76 vehicles that “flunked” the “dry run” on Commonwealth Avenue, the report said nothing, but I am betting 90 percent were buses and jeepneys whose annual “emission test” results are being fudged routinely at the LTO—and guess, by whom? How else can anyone explain their ubiquitous presence on the road and unabated menace to public health?
When traffic enforcers go full throttle with this so-called “clean air” drive, can we really expect the bus and jeepney operators to finally get it into their thick skulls that they stand to be kicked out of the roads if they continue with their recalcitrance?
Given my own experience, I’m not keeping my fingers crossed—they could get interlocked forever.
STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, [email protected]
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