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Opinion

‘Moonlighting’ minus Bruce Willis

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Now that I have your attention, spoiler alert, today’s column has absolutely nothing to do with Bruce Willis or the beloved TV series “Moonlighting.”

Re-electionist Senator JV Ejercito recently called on President BBM and Malacañang to revisit and reimpose the ban on the unauthorized use of sirens and blinkers, given that only the President and the Vice President are legally allowed the use of such equipment for safety and security.

Because we have gotten so used to this abuse, most of us don’t pay much attention. Some even say “if you can’t beat them then join them.” But have you ever stopped to think how unfair and insulting it is to us ordinary citizens that we are required to stop or give way to ambulances and emergency vehicles, while these shameless officials and individuals zip past us using blinkers and sirens?

I can only agree with Senator Ejercito that more and more unauthorized individuals have been using such equipment, but to be fair, it is often the initiative of “too eager to please” motorcycle police escorts or security details of most government officials or fake VIPs. The bosses generally don’t think much of it or actually appreciate how having a motorcycle cop, blinkers and sirens can expedite their travel through Metro Manila traffic.

However, we should not limit the focus on sirens and blinkers alone. President BBM and Malacañang should really put its foot down on how lax the PNP has been regarding security escorts, bodyguards and back-up vehicles as well as “bikers” on the expressway and highways who are part of an organization that has undergone training with the HPG and now think they are deputized members of the Highway Patrol Group!

As I mentioned in an earlier column, if the new administration wants Filipinos to display discipline, respect for the law and patriotism, then our government officials and legislators should be the first to set an example of humility, modesty and regard for the law. If the HPG and the DILG were to set up a check point for the purpose near the Batasan Pambansa and the Philippine Senate, I am sure that two out three legislators could get a traffic citation for installing or using blinkers/flashers or sirens along with their back-up vehicles.

The same would probably happen at the entrance or exit of Camp Aguinaldo, Camp Crame, Fort Bonifacio and the Philippine Navy office on Roxas Boulevard, as well as the DOTr/LTO. A causal check of CCTV recordings in the SLEX and NLEX will surely reveal Big Bike Riders flashing those blinkers and using sirens on a regular basis!

The fact of the matter is that the number one pasaways re: blinkers and sirens are lawmakers and law enforcement officials and some AFP generals. In some of the viral videos associated with road rage, we often see someone flashing a badge, claiming to be a government official, etc. And because none of these abuses have been dealt with by the DILG, PNP and LTO with “extreme prejudice,” we now see numerous cases where sons of congressmen and businessmen travel with bodyguards and getting into altercations on the roads and private villages.

The latest violations have even involved “Chinese” expats, VIP gamblers who are involved in road rage and accidents while under the influence of alcohol and protected by bodyguards and back-up vehicles. What qualifies gamblers to drive around with back-up security personnel? You would think that the PNP would investigate what these “rent-a-cops” or so-called “security” are doing moonlighting for gamblers and alleged lieutenants of the Yakuza.

Perhaps it might help if Senator JV Ejercito introduced a bill in the senate that would ban or strictly limit the importation of blinkers and sirens, impose specific penalties on drivers, employers or bosses in incidents involving such abuses. It would surely make a difference if a hotline was established so people could report the plate numbers or conduction stickers or passenger identity involving the illegal use of blinkers, sirens and presence of security for people who have no business running around with bodyguards.

While we are at it, Sen. JV should also sit down with the LTO and ask how some of those VIP gamblers can drive around with diplomatic car plates? It is good that Sen. Ejercito called Malacañang’s attention to all these and I pray that BBM and his team respond to it because it is a good place to start if the government wants to instill discipline and road safety.

Thankfully, we don’t have mass shooting in the Philippines but there is no denying that we have frequent incidents of road rage and pretentious bullies ganging up on security guards and ordinary citizens.

*      *      *

Incoming DPWH Secretary Manny Bonoan will surely have his hands full as complaints have begun to rise about poor quality work being delivered by DPWH contractors and builders. The latest I heard involves projects in Baguio City that has led to city officials publicly complaining and taking steps to file legal action.

All this is nothing new. All Secretary Bonoan has to do is review all the videos and images of typhoon and storm damage done to public schools, bridges, canals and roads and I am certain that he will spend a lot of time suing DPWH contractors.

I was recently informed by a couple of residents near the C-6 area in the Pasig-Taguig City boundary about how cement and steel bars for government projects had been sold at night to nearby residents in the depressed area.

Actually, all that Secretary Bonoan has to do is to inspect the entire length of EDSA and C5 to see the low quality of roadwork that DPWH officials have signed off on. The joke among 4X4 off-road enthusiasts is that these two highways now qualify as “light off-road trail” for beginners. Yes, the quality and standards of DPWH engineers have now become a joke!

BRUCE WILLIS

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