WHEN it rains, it pours for people in these parts, with two pieces of presumably beneficial legislation and an executive order greeting Filipinos this week.
Passed by Congress were the Anti-Distracted Driving Act (Republic Act 10913) and Children’s Safety on Motorcycle Act (RA 10666), and issued by President Rodrigo Duterte was Executive Order 26 prohibiting smoking in closed public places.
This early, however, two members of the Senate are already calling for a review of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10913, which Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd described as “too stiff” and Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito found “confusing.”
Neither stiff nor confusing evidently are provisions of the act, which prohibits concerned parties from using their mobile phones and electronic gadgets while driving, as are those of the smoking ban, which puts people’s health over the instant gratification that some people supposedly get from puffing a stick or two.
For the most part, though, the provisions of RA 10913 redound to greater road safety for motorists and riders driving or taking public or private transportation and those of RA 10666 to peace of mind for parents who will not have to worry anymore about the danger of car or truck driver who texts while driving running over their children.
Those who crafted the legislation, however, apparently overlooked banning the use of tinted glass in private cars, which would negate the benefits of the law as it would render those illegally sending text messages or making calls on their cell phones well concealed inside their vehicles.
It is here where law meets politics and power because only those with money such as politicians and businessmen can afford to have tinted glass installed in their vehicles.
RA 10913, RA 10666 and EO 26 all look good on paper but will only be worth the paper they are written on if compliance is secured from those quarters whose interest was the reason for their legislation in the first place.
Compliance can be obtained through strict enforcement of these measures but only if those mandated to implement these laws are given the necessary resources and manpower.
In Metro Manila (16 cities and one town with a total population of over 10 million), only the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is authorized to look out for violators of RA 10913 and RA 10666, a job that apparently requires bigger manpower and perhaps a bigger budget.
It does not help that the MMDA also has become a responder, mainly as a rescue team, to natural or man-made calamities across the country.
Besides, the authority does not have police powers, which could at least restrain those intending to break the rules if given half the chance to do it.
It is not unusual for motorists to speed away as MMDA aides try to flag them down for violating traffic rules.
Worse, there have been a number of incidents where MMDA men in Metro Manila’s chaotic streets are shot dead or seriously injured by enraged drivers.
Compliance with the three measures could also be obtained with the help of an information campaign not only in Metro Manila, the National Capital Region, but also the rest of the country.
There is no substitute, however, for cooperation from the parties who are the beneficiaries of the two laws and executive order in order to make the measures serve their purpose.
The parties are the people, mothers, for instance, who will have second thoughts about “saving” on transportation fare by making their children ride in front and at the back of motorcycles, or the smokers who would at least lose an option on how to kick the bucket their way.
Finally, discipline, which many Filipinos are known to lack, will either be a game changer or a deal breaker in the implementation of RA 10913, RA 10666 and Executive Order 26.