EDITORIAL - Now enforce these orders

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Now enforce these orders

In an order that evoked the late president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, President Marcos has banned the use of sirens or wang-wang and blinkers by unauthorized government officials and personnel and restricted the use of protocol license plates, with judges losing the privilege.

But unlike Aquino who linked the use of wang-wang to VIP entitlements and general unfairness in Philippine society, Marcos’ Administrative Order No. 18, signed on March 25, said the sirens, blinkers and similar devices caused “traffic disruption and unsafe road and traffic environment.” Amid the “rampant” abuse of the devices, AO No. 18 reminded all government officials and personnel that the devices can be used only for emergency response.

Exempted from the order are official vehicles of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation as well as emergency vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks that are actually responding to a fire.

Also on March 25, Executive Order No. 56 was signed, restricting the use of protocol license plates. EO 56 declared: “It has been observed that complaints about the proliferation and unauthorized use of protocol license plates continue to increase over the years, threatening public safety and undermining the integrity of the vehicle registration system.” Removed from the list were protocol plates 16 and 17 issued to judges of regional and first-level courts, respectively.

Still on the list of those allowed to use protocol plates, apart from the president and vice president, are justices, the heads of constitutional bodies, the AFP and PNP chiefs, Cabinet members, congressmen and senators. That’s still a rather large number of people who can abuse the privilege, if enforcement of the presidential orders is spotty.

Everyone suffers from traffic gridlocks. Judging from public reaction to Noynoy Aquino’s wang-wang ban, Filipinos support any measure against VIP entitlements and jumping the line. The next step is for the Marcos administration to show that the new directives can be fully enforced. People can do their part by recording and posting on social media violators of the ban. Once caught, violators must be identified and imposed appropriate penalties, without exemption.

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