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Enforceable?

July 2011
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Whenever laws and regulations are crafted, one basic question that needs to be considered pertains to whether there is capacity to enforce such laws or regulations. This is quite logical and appeals to common sense since laws and regulations are practically prints on paper that will not have any impacts if not enforced properly and fairly. I mention “fairly” here because laws and regulation may also be the subject of abusive enforcement. That is, there have been cases where motorists are flagged down and charged with violations that are taken out of the context given the traffic conditions, and where the number of apprehensions are related to quotas set by authorities.

Take the case of the unwarranted or illegal use of sirens (wangwang) in the past. There were laws and regulations for its use  but for a long time these laws and regulations were not enforced properly, leading to the wangwang’s abuse by many unscrupulous people. Almost everyone have practically given up on this abuse of the siren when a newly elected President expressed his dismay and ordered the eradication of illegal sirens. Almost overnight, “wangwangs” were confiscated by authorities inspired by the Commander-in-Chief’s orders or removed by owners themselves for fear of the law bearing down on them. This was enforcement at its best. Unfortunately, it was not replicated for other traffic laws and regulations, wasting valuable momentum and the opportunity to make things right along our streets and highways.

Quezon City’s Green Building Ordinance is quite good and well-meaning. It is very timely and relevant, and even includes provisions for upgrading transport in that city. Among others, it requires that tricycles be transformed into cleaner vehicles by stipulating the replacement of 2-stroke and even 4-stroke motorcycles with LPG or electric models. To date, nothing significant has been achieved to address issues pertaining to the tens of thousands of tricycles in Quezon City. The construction of green buildings in Quezon City cannot be mainly attributed to the ordinance but rather to owners and designers who are now much more aware of climate change and its impacts, and are progressive enough to design buildings that are environment-friendly. Of course, there are those who take to the “green” bandwagon but do nothing towards this end. Are these subject to evaluations and inspections that are the equivalent of enforcement?

Now comes a bicycle ordinance from Pasig City that is formally the “Bicycle Transportation Promotion Ordinance of 2011.” It is also good and well-meaning but the jury will definitely be out there if this initiative will be a successful and sustainable one. I am quite hopeful that it would be and not just end up as an example of coming up with laws because anything about the environment is in these days. The provision in the ordinance designating bicycle lanes and requiring establishments to provide bicycle racks for parking are all good but we have seen this before in an even bigger scale in the City of Marikina. There they constructed bikeways practically connecting all parts of the city and they were quite aggressive even after foreign support had ended. Politics and shortcomings (I wouldn’t say failure.) in encouraging people to cycle have made much of the on-street bicycle lanes practically taken over by motorized transport. Bicycle racks there are also being used by motorcycles and scooters. Pasig should learn from these experiences and it is hoped that the city succeed and become another example of EST to be replicated in other Philippine cities.


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