Road accidents have been one of the most prevailing causes of deaths all over the world. In fact, according to WHO on Global Road Safety Report of 2013, 1.24 Million deaths was posted per year due to road accidents. Likewise in the Philippines, it is one of the Top 10 causes of mortality amongst Filipinos.
For that reason, Davao City, with the proactive response of its local government, implemented last October 2013 a maximum speed limit within its territory – 30KPH within downtown area. Yes, you read it right. 30KPH. At first, it’s quite disturbing ‘cos 30KPH is just like riding bicycle. I mean, it might took me 30 to 45 minutes from home to work when it’s just a 15-minute drive. But then, it is a policy that needs to be abided by.
And you cannot escape when people – called the TMC or I named them ‘The Green Boys’ – caught you in the act. They have this speed gun that when you see them along the road, their like action stars, with a combat outfit and a rider shade on, in the middle of a fighting scene firing somebody, maybe their enemy, approaching. And when you’re over the limit, you are dead.
But really, were all the drivers caught punished through license suspension and penalty fee? Believe me, not everyone.
I was once a violator. I was heading to my work when the road seems so wide and empty. And it tempted me to drive faster than the limit; Speed gun on and I was just gunshot. 58KPH. It was my first time to get caught and felt ready about the consequences. I composed myself and talked to a green boy. He narrated my violations and how much will it cost me in LTO and the seminar I have to attend. Truly, I felt sorry for the hassle and amount of time I have to spend to get back my license.
Until the green boy told me something to be free…
‘But Sir, despite all that, we can talk about it’ (Translated to English). And I know what he meant by that. We dealt with the nego, gave him what he asked, requested to make it a secret, then done. I was free to go. And I became free from the hassle of my violation that only cost me very little yet provided that green boy an easy money by mere pulling the trigger of the speed gun in less than a second.
More than this as a confession, I realized over that experience that while the speed limit is trying to discipline the motorists and encourages safer driving, it has also became an opportunity for the law enforcers to make money out of it – or ‘kotong’ as we coined it. They took advantage of the perils of the law to all the motorists.
Just imagine if in a day, a single green boy caught 10 violators and bribed for 200 pesos each, that’s 2,000 pesos in just 10 seconds or 40,000 pesos in less than 4 minutes of speedgun-shooting – a money from the people of the city out of a local law of the government who supposedly protects the people of the city.
The question now becomes ‘who benefits more from the government’s initiative?’
There’s is seriously nothing wrong with the law if only it serves its purpose with no one being extorted and intimidated. In fact, I commend Mayor Duterte for such concern to his people and the place they all live in. I understand that it only offers protection from any harm of the road. I just hope that the local government of Davao can address this as soon as possible so all are equal before the law and no one takes personal gain.