At least 42,000 or road signages and devices across the country are either stolen or damaged, a lawmaker said Monday.
Rep. Raneo Abu of Batangas, citing government records , made the disclosure under his House Bill 1155 or the An Act Imposing Stiffer Penalties on the Offense of Stealing or Vandalizing Government Installed Road and Highway Traffic, Warning and Protective Signages, Railings and other Facilities.
Abu filed the measure in light of the eight vehicle-smash up in the Atimonan, Quezon province, on Saturday, leaving at least 20 people dead.
“While PNP records show that most traffic accidents are caused mainly by driver errors, the absence of visible road signs, such as warning signs that there are sharp curves, slippery roads or road repairs also induces driver errors. This is because at least 42,558 pieces of road signs and devices installed by the DPWH were either stolen, damaged or vandalized,” Abu said in his bill.
PNP is the Philippine National Police, while the DPWH is the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Per the accounts of Chief Insp. Jonar Yupio who serves as the Atimonan police chief, the bus driver of Superlines lost control of his vehicle after the first collision and hit six other vehicles, two buses, two cargo trucks, a trailer truck and a van—coming from the opposite direction before toppling over on the narrow downhill road, pinning many of the victims.
Under Abu’s proposal, persons who will be found guilty of stealing of or possessing road signs and warning devices, including manhole and accessories, as well as stealing or buying disaster warning and risk reduction instruments and their accessories will be slapped 12 to 15 years of jail time or P200,000 to P300,000 fine or both.
The damaging or vandalizing road signs and warning devices, also including manhole covers and their accessories, on the other hand, will be penalized by six to 10-year imprisonment or P100,000 to P150,000 fine or both.
The punishment will be harsher with government employees, as being guilty of the offenses cited above will mean forfeiture of their retirement benefits and will be barred from any employment within the government service.
On the distaff side, incentives will be provided to those who will provide information leading to the apprehension of violators of this proposal. The nature of the incentives will be provided under the Implementing Rules and Regulations.
The said measure was filed in the 15th Congress by former Rep. Angelo Palmones of Agham party-list, to no avail.
Under the Civil Code of the Philippines, the provinces, cities and municipalities will be liable for damages for the death of, or injuries suffered by, any person by reason of the defective condition of roads, streets, bridges, public buildings and under public works under their control or supervision. LLANESCA T. PANTI