SC allows MMDA’s ‘wet flag’ scheme
- Jose Rodel Clapano () - November 21, 2006 - 12:00am
The Supreme Court declared yesterday that the "wet flag" scheme implemented earlier by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is legal.

The scheme was meant to discourage pedestrians from violating the anti-jaywalking law and keep them on the sidewalks while waiting for a ride.

In a six-page en banc resolution penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the high court dismissed the petition filed by lawyer Ernesto Francisco, which seeks to stop the MMDA from implementing the controversial scheme.

The high court said the anti-jaywalking ordinances enacted by cities and municipalities are sufficient basis for MMDA to implement various schemes, including the wet flag scheme, to enforce regulations.

"After all, the MMDA is an administrative agency tasked with the implementation of rules and regulations enacted by proper authorities," the SC said.

In seeking to stop the MMDA’s wet flag scheme, Francisco said it has no legal basis for it because the Metro Manila Council, MMDA’s governing body, did not authorize it.

Francisco also said the scheme is unconstitutional because it violates the pedestrians’ right to due process and disregards constitutional provisions against cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment.

He said the wet flag is also likely to cause accidents and injuries to pedestrians who scamper to avoid getting wet.

Under the scheme, MMDA’s mobile units deployed along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila throws a wet flag measuring about 7 X 5 feet to pedestrians violating anti-jaywalking laws.

In ruling in favor of the scheme, the SC said it could not make a factual determination of whether the scheme is a reasonable enforcement of anti-jaywalking ordinances because it is not a "trier of facts."

"The petitioner proffers mere surmises and speculations on the potential hazards of the flag scheme. This court cannot determine the reasonableness of the flag scheme based on mere surmises and speculations," the high court said.

It added that Francisco also violated the doctrine of hierarchy of courts when he filed the petition directly to the SC instead of bringing it first to a lower court.

MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno said the SC’s decision confirms what they have been saying all along regarding the agency’s power to implement laws.

He said the ruling shows that the high tribunal recognizes how the MMDA is obliged to implement laws as well as devise ways, means or schemes to enforce it.

"The SC validated what we have been explaining from the beginning by ruling in favor of how we are implementing anti-jaywalking ordinances," Nacianceno told The STAR. —  With Michael Punongbayan

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANTONIO CARPIO ERNESTO FRANCISCO FLAG GENERAL MANAGER ROBERT NACIANCENO METRO MANILA METRO MANILA COUNCIL METROPOLITAN MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY MMDA SCHEME SUPREME COURT
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