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Opinion

EDITORIAL - The return of wang-wang

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - The return of wang-wang

Their unauthorized use has been seen as symbols of unfair entitlement. So it’s good that senators themselves have called attention to the resurgence of “wang-wang” – the unauthorized use of blinkers and sirens by those who think they are VIPs deserving special treatment.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito tweeted his exasperation over the increasing proliferation of wang-wang-equipped vehicle convoys that cut off motorists while speeding along the crowded streets of Metro Manila. As far as he knows, Ejercito pointed out, only the president, vice president, Senate president, House speaker and chief justice are the civilian officials entitled to sirens and blinkers.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian echoed the same observation. The ban on wang-wang, which became synonymous with the abuse of VIP perks, was one of the most applauded moves of the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Reacting to the senators’ complaints, the Philippine National Police announced yesterday that it was stepping up the campaign against the unauthorized use of sirens and blinkers. Under the law, only motor vehicles designated for official use by the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Land Transportation Office, Bureau of Fire Protection and the National Bureau of Investigation as well as ambulances are authorized to use sirens and blinkers.

PNP officials warned that unauthorized use of the devices could lead to imprisonment of up to six months. They said even dealers would be charged for selling and installing the devices in private vehicles.

How the intensified campaign is carried out would be interesting to watch. Will ordinary police personnel apprehend VIPs such as lawmakers themselves and local government officials who break the rules on emergency devices?

As it goes after the unauthorized use of sirens and blinkers, the PNP together with its mother agency, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, should review the policy on the assignment of police security escorts. There are only 220,000 police personnel for a population of over 100 million. Why should a handful of people enjoy an inordinate number of security personnel at taxpayers’ expense?

All Filipinos deserve to be safe in their homes and in public spaces. VIPs who feel they need more protection can surely afford to hire their own security personnel instead of making taxpayers foot the bill. And the VIPs should endure traffic jams, just like the toiling masses.

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