Just tell us if EDSA is beyond solution

- Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) - November 13, 2012 - 12:00am

SWERVING: A favorite trick of extortionist Kotong Kops is to accost drivers for “swerving.” When asked what “swerving” is, these hoodlums in uniform say the driver had changed lanes suddenly.

You ask in Tagalog what the difference is between swerving and changing lane — and you end up with an irritating exchange with a supposed person in authority who does not have authoritative knowledge of the rules he presumes to enforce.

In its recent advisory, the Metro Manila Development Authority itself does not sound like it knows. Saying that “swerving” is not a traffic violation, the MMDA defines swerving as “shifting two or more lanes very quickly.”

But what is “quickly”? Is being “quick” now an offense?

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DISTANCE: The MMDA adds: “Moving one lane to the left or right is not swerving, no matter where on the road you do it. And it is even less of a violation when you do it with a signal.”

Curious, but what is a full violation and what is “less of a violation”?

Going back to changing lanes “quickly,” they should define “quickly.” If you cut through two or more lanes within 50 meters that is obviously reckless. But if you do that safely over 250 meters, that is something else. The rule on swerving should define the distance.

The MMDA should also point out that if solid lines separate the lanes, no swerving or changing of lanes is allowed.

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EDSA TEST: I am not trying to split hairs. I am just one of the millions of harassed motorists who must endure daily the nightmare that is EDSA.

How I wish President Noynoy Aquino and his traffic experts drove INCOGNITO the length of EDSA during busy hours. So they would know what is out there.

To many people, EDSA is the acid test of the Aquino administration (not Aquino “government,” another source of confusion over definition of terms).

I submit that if the Executive cannot even solve a basic and costly problem like EDSA, it has no right or competence to try ruling the country and resolving more serious issues.

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COLD HOTLINE: The MMDA advises harassed motorists to call “Metro Base” when they encounter Kotong Kops or believe they are victims of wrong or malicious apprehensions on the road.

It says: “Call MMDA hotline (163) or the Metro Base at 0920-9389861 or 0920-9389875 and ask for Inspectorate. They will send inspectors where the MMDA officers are extorting.”

Try doing that and honking vehicles will be held back kilometer-long behind you as you struggle with the phone numbers.

The 163 hotline is hot all right, but only because it is forever busy. As for the other mobile numbers given, they are not yet in service or something. Try them.

It seems MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino and his traffic managers can be called 24/7 only by popular radio and TV anchors during their programs. Not by plain motorists.

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WHAT TO DO: Anyway, MMDA says that if Kotong Kops arrest you for swerving, you can deal them these 1-2-3 jabs:

1. Confidently and politely assert your knowledge of the rules and your rights.

2. Ask for a violation ticket and the name of the arresting officer. The ticket will identify the policemen and serve as evidence if you complain against them for extortion.

3. Drop the name of Coratec Jimenez, MMDA vice president in charge of traffic officers. She is a graduate and former professor of the Asian Institute of Management, personally recruited by MMDA Chairman Tolentino, also of AIM.

Our additional advice is to pray to newly canonized San Pedro Calungsod, who may be able to work out a miracle.

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LTO DEPUTATION: By the way, not just any policeman or MMDA officer can cite you for violations of the traffic code. Only authorized officers of the Land Transportation Office can legally do that.

Policemen and MMDA personnel enforcing traffic laws must carry a deputation from the LTO. Not even the MMDA chairman may accost drivers and write them violation tickets if he is not an LTO deputy.

As a matter of routine, ask the traffic officer to show his LTO deputation. When he senses that you know your law, he might slink away or call for backup a buddy who has an LTO paper.

All throughout, stay inside your vehicle. The officer should walk to where you had pulled over and talk to you through your rolled-down window, your hands on the wheel. Never get off and walk to him scratching your head and holding your “argument” folded in your other hand.

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SENIORS EXEMPTED: The MMDA says that your license may not be confiscated for a traffic violation. The only time that can be done is if you are involved in an accident, or it is your third violation and you have not paid your fines.

Officers are allowed only to issue a violation ticket, which you can contest. Sometimes when you ask for a ticket and act like you are not willing to come across, a Kotong Kop leaves you alone.

You may also ask for his written “Mission Order” issued by his supervisor. If he is citing you for a violation not in his mission order for the day, he can be subjected to disciplinary action.

Another interesting MMDA pointer, btw, says that when a vehicle is accosted with a senior citizen on board, the driver and the vehicle go scot-free. The senior citizen must show his universal white Senior Citizen card (the one used in restaurants, malls and drugstores).

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RESEARCH: Past POSTSCRIPTs can be accessed at manilamail.com. Follow us via Twitter.com/@FDPascual. Send feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com


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