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Just go for the jugular

12:20 AM June 03, 2015

At last, somebody with a big stick has paid attention to the never-ending menace jeepney drivers are posing to the public and the chaos they are causing to our traffic infrastructure (“Miriam goes after jeepney drivers, riders,” Metro, 5/25/15)—or so we thought. Sen. Miriam Santiago was reported to have filed a bill “to get tough on the so-called kings of the road” who continually make a mockery of all our traffic rules and regulations. Her idea of enforcing discipline among them rests upon the stiffer fines she is proposing as a deterrent to their reckless imprudence—and shameless impudence (try telling them to observe the rules and all you get is the middle finger)!

Alas, why are we more amused than enthused. It’s the same old refrain. Seriously, it has never been a matter of penalty, but just honest-to-goodness enforcement of existing laws! We were hoping to find if Santiago’s bill also involves “getting tough” on law enforcers sleeping on the job, but there is absolutely nothing there that inspires public confidence in her intentions. On the contrary, it raises more alarm over the possibility of driving “kotong” costs sky-high. And having forked over more bribes, those rambunctious jeepney drivers would only feel entitled to more laxity in any crackdown against their recalcitrance. What we were earnestly crossing our fingers for are tough sanctions to make the heads of traffic management agencies roll if they fail to impose traffic discipline in their respective areas of responsibility.

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Take this enforcement no-brainer: Eight out of 10 jeepney drivers don’t bother turning their headlights on at night. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out how that puts the public in jeopardy of being run over when crossing a dimly lit street. The reason they usually give for that is passengers lining the streets cannot see their front signages (routes) in the glare of their headlights. Traffic enforcers accept that at face value, never mind that it clearly means those drivers are ignoring designated stops and picking up fares anytime, anywhere!

So, if something as commonsensical as that is already too difficult for them to deal with, can there be any hope that any higher calibration of measures to exact road discipline will be of any use?

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So, Madam Miriam, we beseech you: Don’t waste your precious time with traffic fines, just go for the jugular (of the do-nothing traffic managers!) as is your wont.

—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, lexsquare.firm@gmail.com

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TAGS: Jeepneys, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Public transportation
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