• Of stickers, commemorative plates and calling cards

    6
    VERNON B. SARNE

    VERNON B. SARNE

    CAR-SHOW model Alyzza Agustin is attractive. This fact alone would have worked wonders for her when she was recently trying to wiggle her way out of a traffic violation ticket for breaking the number-coding rule. But no—for good measure, she also whipped out the signed calling card of a high-ranking police officer in a clear attempt to intimidate the poor traffic marshal. Of course, she got away scot-free.

    Not content that she got off the hook, she had to brag about it on her Facebook page. And this, as you can imagine, got her into all kinds of trouble. Not only is the police officer—Alexander Ignacio—denying that he knows Alyzza, he is now also threatening to sue her.

    Not to trivialize Alyzza’s nauseating sense of entitlement, but let’s face it: Almost everyone in our society has, at one time or another, consciously taken advantage of “connections,” both real and fabricated. It takes on different forms. Cronyism, nepotism, name-dropping, networking, whatever. We live in a country where people wrongly put a premium on personal ties.

    Bata ni meyor. Kumpare ni congressman. Shooting buddy ng pangulo.

    The general assumption is that if you mess with somebody who knows someone with a modicum of power, you’re dead. The security guards who politely refused Makati Mayor Junjun Binay passage through a closed gate of Dasmariñas Village, learned the hard way that doing the right thing in the Philippines doesn’t result in rewards—it only results in embarrassment and retaliation.

    I do not join the call to investigate Alyzza further. That, to me, is comically petty. Issue her the traffic violation ticket if you want to, but leave her alone after she settles the fine. It’s not as though we’ve suddenly stumbled upon a tightly guarded high-profile crime here. Her misdemeanor happens all the time; her error takes place everywhere.

    It happens whenever you attach a “PNP” sticker to your car’s windshield. It happens when you equip your SUV with a siren. It happens when you use an “NBI” commemorative plate. It happens when you hang a “MEDIA” identification card on your rear-view mirror. And yes, it most certainly happens when you flash the calling card of a powerful individual with the intent to flout the law.

    Alyzza Agustin had a momentary lapse in judgment and got flogged on social-media like her offense carried the weight of Janet Lim-Napoles’s remorseless pillage. That should be enough. The scourge of online humiliation that came her way should last her a lifetime of reminder that it’s never right to use her connections to get her way in life. If there’s anyone who should be interrogated in this case, it’s the police officer whose name is proudly printed on that calling card, however vehemently he maintains his innocence. Something tells me there’s a deeper story there.

    The beautiful model committed a blunder, one almost each one of us has done in the past. Her actions merely exposed the epidemic that no one had dared talk about (not least because nearly everyone benefited from the practice). Now we know what a community of decent people thinks about it. So this calling-card culture—this padrino system—has to stop now.

    Let’s stop the subtle bullying of “lowly” traffic officers by letting them know we are connected whenever they stop us for a violation. Reason out if you have to. Quote the letter of the law if you so desire. Or appeal to the traffic officer’s emotions if you’re desperate.

    But please—for the love of everything that’s honorable and upright—do not mouth off the name of your cousin who works in Malacañang. Do not dial the office of a politician and hand the phone to your captor. Do not try to speak in nose-bleeding English and point out your relation to a cabinet secretary. And do not pull out the calling card of a policeman and sneer smugly as you show it off to the traffic aide.

    A world where everyone is scheming to get away with everything and anything is screwed.

     

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    6 Comments

    1. In the UK, the Queen’s daughter has been prosecuted for speeding, and a Chief Constable (Chief of police for a region) has been charged by his lowly police constable for drunken driving. So it should be. We are all supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law. Could that happen here?

      • When Shwarszenneger was Governor of CA, he was fined $40 for parking on a “no parking” zone. His wife, a Kennedy clan member was also fined for taking to her cellphone while driving. No one is above the Law.

        No excuses. But here in our beloved PH all can get away just by flashing calling cards of government officials. I hope congress shall make legislation to control these culture of Palakasan.

    2. Juan De La Cruz on

      One cannot fault the people who name-drop to avoid a “traffic ticket”. This culture is a product of the common & blatant practices of the so called lowly traffic officers who are out there purportedly to enforce traffic rules and regulations. No enforcing traffic regulations is farthest from their mind, rather, their main objective is to victimize unsuspecting motorists of, more often than not, confiscating their licenses over imagined “severe traffic violations”. And most of the time, “unconnected” motorists/victims are forced to fork over “cash donations” to avoid having their licenses confiscated. I am of course speaking from first hand experience when I went back to the Philippines for a visit. We were stopped by lowly “traffic officers” for what clearly appears to be an imagined violation. They even flaunted an “overused” traffic regulation booklet to us pointing out our supposed violation. After a lengthy discussion, it became quite clear that they weren’t there to enforce the law, but to extort money from us. Having just flown 18 hours from Canada were were dead tired so we had no choice but to fork over whatever amount they desired so that we can be on our way. What is so sickening to is once they discovered that we are balikbayans, they were not willing to settle for pesos “cash donations”. They insisted for us to make “cash donations” in dollar currency. And what is further sickening is that once we indicated how much we were willing to “donate”, the arresting officer called over his supervisor whom promptly blurted to us, “hanggang $20.00 lang ba kayo”. After handing over $30.00 to the supervisor we were promptly sent on our merry way with a wish for an enjoyable visit. I have a close relative who is an army General whose name I could have “dropped” to intimidate the “lowly traffic officers” but I took the easy way out, which I have been informed is a common practice in the Philippines.

    3. jose hernani m. parco on

      next time she should try flashing her HD frontal nude picture of herself to the traffic officer and taunt “bakit ba hindi mo ba ako kilala?”! for sure the officer will request for a selfie and an autograph! no problem!

    4. Kudos to you Mr Sarne! What an excellent article – your righteousness is clearly evident. Even if only a handful of people will follow your example our country will be a better place to live in.

    5. At last, a person like you Mr. Vernon Sarne from the Manila Times mentioned something about the BINAY’s arrogant behavior. You said ” The security guards who politely refused Makati Mayor Junjun Binay passage through a closed gate of Dasmariñas Village, learned the hard way that doing the right thing in the Philippines doesn’t result in rewards—it only results in embarrassment and retaliation.”. This is totally true because the Binays in tagalog term “nakatikim” ng ginhawa sa buhay dahil sa corruption nila. Question? When are you and the BAYAN Muna make mention or comment or make a headline on the BINAYS corruption. Alam na nating lahat ang kabulukan ni Binay at bakit ayaw ninyong baggitin sa diyaryo ninyo. Sa palagay nyo ba mananalo pa si Binay sa pagka-presidente kaya takot at tahimik kayo?