• HPG may shoot tires if necessary

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    Law allows armed constables to use force against violators

    I SAID ‘GO STRAIGHT’ A Highway Patrol policeman tries to put order on the lanes of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue on Day 1 of the unit’s take over of traffic control of Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

    I SAID ‘GO STRAIGHT’ A Highway Patrol policeman tries to put order on the lanes of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue on Day 1 of the unit’s take over of traffic control of Metro Manila’s busiest thoroughfare. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

    The law allows armed traffic authorities to “use force” in carrying out their traffic management duties.

    “Guns are part of their [police]uniform in the first place so they can use [them]if the situation calls for it,” Alberto Suansing, former chairman of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) told senators on Monday in a hearing called to assess implications of vehicular traffic in the country’s economy.

    Suansing, a stalwart in the trucking industry prior to his stint in government during the Arroyo administration, was one of the resource persons invited to the Senate hearing.

    Traffic jams in the capital of over 13 million people have become a major issue, with a growing number of commuters blaming the government of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
    “Hopefully, it will change things but traffic is a complex problem,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. “There are short-term solutions but we also need long-term solutions.”

    A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, released in 2014, found that traffic jams in Metro Manila cost the country P2.4 billion ($53 million) a day and were responsible for most of the air pollution.

    Metro Manila has long struggled with a deteriorating road and railway system, too many vehicles on the streets, undisciplined drivers and lack of urban planning that forces long commutes.

    Suansing said the President’s decision to tap the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) in carrying out traffic management functions along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) is a good decision.

    Aquino earlier ordered the HPG to manage traffic in six major chokepoints on EDSA, including Balintawak, Cubao, Ortigas, Shaw Boulevard, Guadalupe and Taft Avenue.

    Suansing said Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code authorizes the state police, which was called the Philippine Constabulary (PC) when the law was enacted in 1964, to prevent violation of the traffic code.

    He referred to a provision of the law, which states that “the Philippine Constabulary and the city and municipal police forces are hereby given the authority and the primary responsibility and duty to prevent violations of this Act, and to carry out the police provisions hereof within their respective jurisdictions.”

    Suansing’s statement dovetailed with a Malacañang spokesman’s pronouncement early in the day.

    Coloma said HPG personnel manning busy intersections along the stretch of EDSA are allowed to “use force” but only in extreme situations such as when they are attacked by an irate motorist and need to protect themselves.

    “That may be in extreme cases because they are authorized to use force when needed. However, they [HPG officers] should still use reason in performing their duties,” said the official.

    Coloma was reacting to reports attributed to HPG officials that their people will not hesitate to shoot the tires of traffic violators in extreme situations.

    According to him, such remark was borne out of presentation of possible scenarios as the HPG takes the lead in enforcing traffic rules.

    Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic enforcers and local government units’ traffic aides had previously been asking for authorization that they be allowed to carry guns while manning traffic, citing previous incidents where some of their colleagues had been beaten up by traffic violators.

    “We know that there were traffic enforcers who were hurt, run over or mauled while some experienced being threatened with guns,” Coloma said.

    “They [police officials]only explained what can be expected in extreme scenarios. We do not expect the people to argue [with armed HPG men]or disobey the rules,” he added.
    Coloma said “use of force” is considered a “contingent measure.”

    “Through peaceful and reasonable discussion, we can assure that the public will be cooperative. [The HPG] may only be saying that it is a contingent measure if ever there will be hard-headed violators or who might fight it out [with the HPG men],” the Palace official explained.

    Coloma said traffic policemen will particularly be strict in enforcing the “no parking” rule along busy major and smaller roads and in adhering to the 30-second rule on loading and unloading by public utility buses.

    The PNP on Monday deployed over a hundred HPG policemen to EDSA to try to ease a mammoth traffic problem said to be costing the country about $53 million a day.

    Police said 150 officers were assigned to six “chokepoints” on the 24-kilometer byway.

    The head of the police highway patrol group, Chief Supt. Arnold Gunnacao, told a
    congressional hearing also on Monday that his men were making progress, getting illegally parked vehicles off the road and forcing drivers to be more disciplined.

    A congressman noted some improvement, saying his 37-km trip to the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City only took him two hours instead of the usual two and a half.

    Travel time along EDSA was reportedly cut by at least 10 minutes as HPG policemen started taking the lead in managing the traffic, Gunnacao claimed.

    “There has been some improvements in the traffic. At least 10 minutes [of]travel time [are saved]. That’s just a conservative estimate. We’ll try to improve [on]that,” Gunnacao told reporters at the sidelines of the hearing of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.

    He said while traffic along Balintawak going to Quezon Boulevard has become lighter since the HPG took charge, vehicular congestion still happened along Cubao, Ortigas and Shaw Boulevard.

    “There’s an influx of vehicles going out of EDSA and using single-artery roads like Ortigas Avenue or Meralco Avenue. Almost all of the vehicles are using those roads,” Gunnacao added.

    He earned the ire of former Justice secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd who now represents the 1-BAP party-list when he said the HPG was better than the MMDA in managing traffic.

    “Takot na takot ang mga tao sa inyo lalo na sa probinsya, kapag nakita kayo sinasabi kailangan natin ng pangkape [People fear you especially in the provinces. When they see you, they automatically say, they need to cough up coffee money],” Bello said.

    Gunnacao then replied, “I’m just new in my position” which further infuriated Bello.

    “Bago ka lang pala eh tapos sasabihin mo mas magaling ka sa MMDA [You’re new and yet you ay that you are better than the MMDA]? You have to be fair also to MMDA people, [they have their shortcomings]but never claim that you are better than them,” the lawmaker said.

    PNP Director-General Marquez said expectations are high for the PNP to solve EDSA’s traffic congestion as he called on the public not to expect magic to happen.

    “Even if you put the HPG on EDSA, the high volume of traffic is still there. We cannot expect magic to happen. Our objective is to make traffic flow better by decongesting those six choke points,” Marquez told reporters after sending off the HPG personnel to EDSA at the crack of dawn on Monday.

    He said the HPG was ordered to make traffic flow by getting rid of colorum (illegal) buses and illegal transport terminals, and removing all obstructions on the road particularly in the six choke points.

    “The volume of traffic in EDSA will remain. Let’s not expect that once the HPG starts manning the traffic, it would lessen. Of course not, we will just improve the traffic flow,” Marquez added.

    HPG chief Gunnacao echoed Marquez’s statements but added that managing traffic in EDSA would get better if the HPG were assisted by local government units (LGUs).

    “We cannot do miracles in one day. We cannot weave some magic just like that. The limit I can give is to have a 10-minute improvement. It will gradually improve, with the cooperation of the LGUs, commuters and the drivers,” he said.

    Immediately after they were sent off, the HPG cleared the EDSA-Balintawak area in Quezon City of illegal vendors and illegally parked vehicles.

    HPG officers sternly directed truckers and vendors to get out of the 1.5-meter road easement to pave the way for the smooth flow of traffic.

    The sidewalk has been the usual parking space of trucks and vehicles for delivering and picking up goods from the Balintawak market.

    Before, it is usual for commuters to wait and walk along the streets of Balintawak instead of the sidewalks because vendors and trucks surrounding the market have been occupying the two lanes of the sroad and was the reason why traffic there has been very heavy everyday.

    On Monday morning, motorists were able to use all four lanes.

    Vice President Jejomar C. Binay called on the members of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators (ACTO) during the organization’s general assembly in Quezon City on Sunday night to obey traffic rules as he called for their active participation in finding solutions to Metro Manila’s transportation problems.

    Binay, who headed the MMDA during the Estrada administration, said if drivers and operators obeyed traffic regulations, there would be no reason to fall victim to unscrupulous enforcers demanding bribes.

    Binay said “in situations and issues requiring immediate action, like the traffic crisis in Metro Manila, the President as Chief Executive and head of the bureaucracy should personally exercise full supervision over all the concerned agencies of government.”

    “He should personally monitor and supervise the coordination among these agencies, set targets and deadlines and ensure they meet their targets and deadlines. The President can exercise this until the situation stabilizes,” he added.

    The MMDA is merely a coordinating agency for all Metro Manila LGUs and has no power over elected officials and heads of agencies, Binay said.

    “The MMDA cannot issue instructions to LGUs headed by elected officials and other national government agencies headed by secretaries who are alter egos of the President,” he said.

    “However, the President can exercise such an authority and it should be exercised in addressing the traffic issue which has reached crisis proportions,” Binay added.

    WITH IZA IGLESIA AND LLANESCA PANTI

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    10 Comments

    1. Manuel Jaime jr on

      The only solution for EDSA’s traffic to ease is for the the government to build PUB and PUV stops outside of the main highway.Every car,trucks and buses who wants to stop must turn right and proceed to a street where the necessary parking,taxi and bus stops to load and unload passengers are located.Then go back to EDSA only to drive and run on a minimum 50 Km/per hour and a maximum of 80.Traffic enforcers should ban loading and unloading along the EDSA stretch,and should not allow private vehicles to stop anywhere on EDSA if not necessary and an emergency.Traffic lights on the whole stretch,except at the intersection of North Ave.,Ayala Ave. and Macapagal should all be taken out for traffic to flow continuously.And all vehicles wanting to go along EDSA can enter on a right turn only except on the three intersections where there is a traffic light.Government should also build flyovers on the intersections of Munoz,Aurora Blvd.,Kamias or East Ave.,Ortigas for vehicles not to cross EDSA,Shaw Blvd. and Pasay taft.When all this is done,traffic on EDSA will flow smoothly and will take only 40 minutes from SM in Pasay to Monumento in Kalookan.

    2. indeed! traffic is fatal to your sanity – why in the world would you shoot a tire? to scare the driver? why not jail them directly, suspend their license and impound their vehicle? thats what civilized people do!, for a country that still has learn to fasten seatbelts i wouldnt be surprised! imagine the traffic horror those buses with shot tires…. again, solving the problem thru a barrel of a gun? only in the Phils…

    3. just as i thought… lack of discipline is really a factor on EDSAs traffic… so this tells how incompetent MMDA are.

    4. Nag umpisa ang problema sa traffic noong si Mr.13% hari ng mananakaw VP Binay ang in charge ng MMDA.

    5. Kailangan talaga ang disiplina ng mga driver,lakihan ang multa ng mga violators pag ang pulis nangutong automatic dismissal no suspension.Kailangan imonitor din yong pinagbabayaran ng multa.Mukhang magaling yata itong bagong PNP Chief na si Gen.Marquez keep up the good work General.Need to clean up the PNP so the people will have respect and confidence not fear.

    6. This is a knee jerk reaction, that does not help to address the problem of congestion, as a matter-of-fact, it adds up to the problem since shooting out the air of the wheel of the cars, will only mean that the stalled cars have to completely stop in the middle of the traffic, to change tires!

      Then, there must be this law, that prohibits even people in authority to discharge there fire arms in public, without probable cause or immediate danger or threat to their lives or that of the public with which they are sworn to protect.

      Discipline is a must to control traffic congestion, as a band-aid solution, by a government or administration that did nothing to alleviate this impeding problem, but the real solution should have been to put up infrastructures to deal with a predictable increase in vehicular traffic.

    7. Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan – Marcos-era New Society

      Freedom and Democracy – enter the Aquinos..

      That’s the problem with too much freedom and democracy without discipline…EDSA reflects it all.

      • We need not go back to the dark all days, we need not brutality or extrajudicial killings to be disciplined, after all freedom and democracy is very much compatible with discipline, its all about strict enforcement of laws.

        We dont need to empower a person again to lord over us… to decide what should we eat or drink… we only need democracy and people with discipline

      • That is the problem when there is to much discipline or militarization, sparrow units need to balance abuses of METROCOM.
        Everything needs balancing, not transgression.

    8. HPG can utilize their issued handguns to shoot tires in order to immobilize erring bus drivers. I trust, the law enforcers where trained which part of the buss wheels they could shot.
      Is there a towing truck available ready to tow trucks, buses, cars with busted tires?
      Otherwise, the grounded vehicle will worsen the traffic mess.