No fines for those who obey traffic rules | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

No fines for those who obey traffic rules

/ 12:10 AM June 23, 2014

Why are drivers and operators of public utility vehicles afraid of the higher penalties for colorum vehicles and traffic violators if they do not intend to break the law? No matter how high the penalties are, it won’t affect them if they obey traffic laws, rules and regulations.

The fine for a colorum vehicle goes as high as P1 million. So what? If you are not operating a colorum vehicle, it does not make any difference to you. And if you are a law-abiding driver or operator, you won’t have to pay any fines.


On the other hand, the fear of stiff fines will make drivers drive carefully, and avoid accidents and traffic violations. The same fear will also force the operators not to field buses that have no franchises.

One reason we have a chaotic traffic in Metro Manila is the lack of discipline among drivers. Another reason is the presence of many colorum vehicles. It has been estimated that as many as 20 percent of buses plying Edsa are colorums. But it is difficult to apprehend them because it takes time to scrutinize their permits and the records at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).


LTFRB records show that there are only so much buses plying Edsa, just enough to service commuters. But Edsa is crammed with half-empty buses at all hours, crawling bumper-to-bumper, with very few passengers even during rush hours. There are simply too many buses on Edsa.

The desperate competition to get passengers and lack of accountability make bus drivers drive carelessly and violate traffic rules.

Another reason is the “boundary system”—where drivers pay the bus, jeepney or tricycle operators a fixed amount; what is left of their earnings after paying the boundary becomes their take-home pay. The Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Labor and Employment should concentrate on the abolition of the boundary system next.

* * *

The government and the farmers are spraying massive doses of chemical pesticide on coconut trees infested with the pest that has been christened “cocolisap.” The tiny insect pests suck the life out of coconut trees.

The use of massive doses of pesticide always has dangers. The largely invisible pesticide affects birds, other insects, animals and even humans. Read Rachel Carson’s classic “Silent Spring” to know how pesticides affect the environment.

But how do you kill the pests? There is another way, without using pesticides: biotechnology.


Biotechnology consists of breeding pest-resistant varieties of plants and trees. Because of this natural resistance, they can survive without chemical pesticide.

For example, eggplants are susceptible to tiny worms. They may look beautiful on the outside but inside they would be infested with these worms. So farmers are forced to use pesticide to kill the pests.

But the trouble with these pests is that they become immune to the pesticide; so the farmers are forced to spray the plants with bigger and bigger doses of pesticide. Those eggplants with smooth, shiny skin you see in supermarkets are loaded with pesticides that may accumulate in the bodies of the humans who eat them and may harm them. Wash those beautiful eggplants thoroughly before cooking them. Better yet, peel the skin first.

On the other hand, biotechnology can breed eggplants that are naturally resistant to these pests without any need for the application of pesticides. Filipino scientists have already bred a naturally pest-resistant variety: the “Bt talong.”

This is advantageous to the farmers and the environment. It will save the farmers the cost of the pesticide and will save them from the health risks posed by chemical pesticides. It will also decrease the level of chemical residue in the soil and the vegetables we eat.

The trouble is a European environment group called Greenpeace is opposing biotechnology on the grounds that you never know what this will bring. It has workers and allies here in the Philippines who are now bent on stopping our scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) from developing and introducing plant varieties using modern biotechnology.

Greenpeace does not want these plant varieties adopted here. Its local allies and collaborators have brought our scientists to court and got the Court of Appeals to stop the scientists from completing field trials.

UPLB appealed to the Supreme Court to allow it to resume its trials. But Greenpeace is not about to let that happen. It has hired the best Filipino lawyers to thwart the

efforts of Filipino scientists.

The Supreme Court case may have far-reaching consequences: Greenpeace may get the Court to impose a permanent ban on field trials for crop varieties developed by biotechnology.

When that happens, Filipino farmers will continue to be dependent on chemical pesticides whose use poses dangers to the environment and to humans.

* * *

In reply to queries from fans of Aliw Awardee Margaux Salcedo on her next gig at the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel, it is tomorrow, Tuesday, June 24. I heard she is going to sing Cole Porter tunes this time.

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TAGS: colorums, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, nation, news, traffic, traffic rules
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