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The “pasaways” on our roads

February 2012
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When the current President announced his disdain for wangwang or the illegal use of sirens by different people (usually the abusive ones), the LTO, the PNP and other authorities immediately cracked down on vehicles using wangwangs. It took just a few days to eliminate these irritants of our roads and the public was treated to government in action and serious about eliminating manifestations of corruption and abuse that we seem to have accepted as part of our society.

But what seemed like a good opening move eventually deteriorated somewhere in the middle game and others similar to the wangwang have not been addressed. It is a case of ningas cogon and it is a case where government failed to build on momentum (from the wangwang campaign). Two particularly serious matters that I would like to see the government address pertain to tailpipes and license plates. For tailpipes, there are just too many smoke belchers out there that it doesn’t take a genius to know that there are so many vehicles that should not be running along our roads. For license plates, I cite the examples of the abuse of commemorative plates and the use of covers to obscure the plates (i.e., tinted covers).

Drive through smoke belcher

We see a lot of these vehicles that obviously didn’t or wouldn’t pass emission tests. You wonder why our air quality is still on the decline despite provisions of the Clean Air Act. The answer is quite simple – “non-appearance.” The term refers to those not really undergoing the emission tests required of vehicles prior to the renewal of their registrations. In fairness, the LTO seems to have tried so many ways to ensure that vehicles do undergo emission tests but these efforts have not translated into cleaner air and we see a lot of cars, jeepneys, buses and trucks belching smoke everywhere we go. No wonder road transport is the biggest contributor of air pollution in our cities.

Potent mix – commemorative plate bearing the LTO and DOTC logos and something that suggests that the owner of the car is from media

It seems that commemorative plates are back and with a vengeance. License plates are replaced by commemorative ones so that the users can evade being accosted by  MMDA and other enforcers for number coding violations. Among the most popular commemorative plates I’ve seen used to replace standard ones are those bearing the names of the NBI, PNP, LTO and DOTC. These are the agencies who are supposed to be enforcing against the improper use of commemoratives and yet they are the ones who seem to be promoting the abuse. Then there are those announcing the positions or offices of certain government officials like those bearing special plates (8, 16, “Councilor,” etc.). The other day there was even a news report where former congressmen continue to use special plates while no longer in office!

Such manifestations of abusive behavior continue along our roads and in plain sight of everyone and most especially people who are supposed to enforce traffic rules and regulations. While the attention of the public is on the big ticket and more controversial and sensational impeachment trials, the government seems to have forgotten that in order to achieve its “matuwid na daan” slogan, it has to grind out the even more challenging task of eradicating the rest of the wangwangs and effect behavior change in transport.


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