EDITORIAL - Wang-wang for sale

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Wang-wang for sale

As of yesterday, 1,707 blinkers, sirens or wang-wang, and similar devices had been confiscated from vehicles not authorized to use the gadgets, according to the Philippine National Police. The next step is for the government to tighten the restriction by regulating the sale of such devices.

Earlier this month, President Marcos ordered a ban on the unauthorized use of wang-wang and blinkers, ostensibly to promote road safety and improve traffic management. Only official vehicles of law enforcement agencies along with ambulances and fire trucks are exempted from the ban. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III had imposed a similar ban at the start of his presidency, but the move was part of efforts to eliminate entitlements of government officials and private VIPs.

Those who enjoy such entitlements, however, may find ways of going around the ban, especially if the devices are widely available commercially. Sirens and blinkers are affordable for VIPs, and if the devices are readily available, gadgets that are confiscated can be easily replaced. Those who enjoy VIP treatment may hope that the ban will soon be forgotten and the ongoing campaign will be another ningas cogon – a brush fire that quickly dies down.

Authorities should disabuse people from this belief, and ensure that the ongoing campaign will be sustained. At the same time, the government should strengthen regulation of the sale of such devices – and, for that matter, of any item that is used officially by police, military and other uniformed personnel. Criminals and armed threat groups have often used military or police uniforms in carrying out their illegal activities. The uniforms are the genuine items used by the military and police, and can be easily purchased even in second-hand shops located far from military and police camps and stations. Apart from facilitating the commission of crimes, the unauthorized use of such items can erode public trust in the military and police.

As in the illegal drug scourge, the ease of procuring sirens and blinkers guarantees their continued proliferation. The government must ensure that the crackdown is sustained, and the sources strictly regulated.

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