Why must we discipline the motorists?

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - October 6, 2016 - 12:00am

Call it coincidental that my article on how to solve the problem of the habal-habal appeared together when the proposal of Mayor Tomas Osmeña to put up a habal-habal terminal also came out in the headlines. Finally at least we got one proposal coming from Mayor Osmeña that made sense, as compared to his proposed solution to remove the stench in the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill by giving P5,000 to the students of the University of Cebu  - Maritime Education and Training Center, a suggestion that I found crazy.

But while I fully agree that we should put up terminals for the habal-habal and that they should be manned by senior citizens of the barangay, however this should be the last thing that the City of Cebu should be doing. We must first put discipline on those habal-habal drivers before doing anything else. I know that Mayor Osmeña's idea can be "hijacked" by his friends who could "cash-in" on these terminals, which I hope he can avoid.

But in the meantime, as I already proposed in my previous column, the City of Cebu should designate areas for habal-habal operation that should be color coded. This means the habal-habal motorcycles that are registered in a designated area should be repainted in the colors of their assignment. If your designated area is colored green, then all habal-habal motorcycles plying that area must be painted green. The reason for this is to ensure that other habal-habal motorcycles that do not belong to the green area are not used in areas that are not assigned to them.

There's more! The habal-habal drivers should also wear the colors of their designated areas so that they just can't move to other areas and get the business of habal-habal drivers. This is what is happening today where habal-habal drivers even as far as Mandaue City ride to Cebu City and conduct their business anywhere they like. So large IDs should be worn by habal-habal drivers so they can easily be identified.

Then I would like to propose that our suggestion should be enacted into a law or ordinance in order to give discipline to habal-habal drivers. One of the penalties that I would like to strictly impose is the "strike-three you are out" policy, where erring drivers should only be given three traffic violations and after the third transgression, they should be removed from the system.

When a violator is removed after he makes three violations, he is given six-months to redeem himself. If he is not caught driving without license within that six-month period, then he is allowed to return and ply his designated route. This system is a merit and demerit system, which teaches erring drivers a lesson so they can practice self-discipline and return to the system for good behavior.

This is the system that I wanted the Land Transportation Office to impose for the entire country so we can join the Western nations, which already have a merit and demerit system.   

Incidentally, there is a public hearing by the House Committee on Transportation regarding the "emergency powers" that President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking to solve our traffic problems. In my book, a major solution to our traffic problems is by disciplining erring drivers and for the last five President's not a single one of them came up with any plans to instill discipline in our drivers, even with the reality that driving in this country is not a right but a privilege.

When Martial Law was declared by the president Ferdinand E. Marcos in September 21, 1972, he created the "New Society" a.k.a. "Bagong Lipunan" with the slogan, "Sa pag-unlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan." They were great slogans to launch the New Society under the conjugal Marcos dictatorship. But as the years passed, it was the Marcoses who needed discipline and soon, the monolith that was the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the political ruling party that lasted through the 14-years under Martial Law suddenly broke apart and disintegrated.

My understanding of the Duterte presidency is that, we are still a nation of laws and not of men, therefore it is high time for us to strictly implement the laws of the land. For decades, the Philippines have always been known as a country, which had great laws. But we were zero in implementing our laws. This is why in this country we have been known to be a nation with two sets of laws - one for the law-abiding citizens and the other for those who do not care to obey or follow the law.

In my book, the best place to instill discipline is by penalizing erring motorists and if the Philippine government is successful in instilling discipline with our drivers, one can easily see this in our streets. When you visit Tokyo, they do have traffic problem there, but they have disciplined drivers. Same is true to the drivers in Singapore or in Hong Kong. So now is the time for the Philippines to get serious in putting discipline with our motorists.

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