Sunday, August 02, 2009


Coming back home today, I witnessed an ordinary, everyday traffic altercation involving an armored van and a taxicab, and what looked like a simple 'gitgitan' case turned out quite ugly soon as one of the guards alighted from the van and positioned himself to poke his shotgun at the cabbie - in the midst of several onlookers. By the looks of it, I'd say the armored van was at fault, having counter-flowed his way at the inconvenience of many motorists on that narrow service road. Was he in a hurry, I thought - on a sluggish Sunday?

Indeed, drivers of armored vans have acquired a deserved reputation of being arrogant and reckless. I remember several years ago, one of them tangled with the wrong guy, when he ignored and ran over a man who was directing traffic on one fine busy day in one of the major thoroughfares in Makati. The man turned out to be the late former Vice-Mayor Arturo 'Toro' Yabut.

That incident subjected the youthful city official to hobble around on crutches for just a few months, but he said this won't deter him from cracking down on abusive drivers of armored vans, who justify their mindless recklessness by saying they simply want to avoid street-holdups.

And that wasn't the last we heard of our good friend Toro directing traffic. Some months after that, right after shedding those creaky crutches, an incident between him and an American motorist over a traffic violation occured, which could have sent our two countries at war with each other. Well, seriously, it led to a bad precedent. The American provoked the incident by violating a traffic rule while Yabut was directing traffic. The former flashed a dirty finger sign at Yabut when the latter tried to apprehend him.

The US embassy, claiming Yabut mauled the American, filed a diplomatic protest with the Philippine government. Yabut was subsequently ordered suspended for 60 days by then Interior and Local Government Secretary Raffy Alunan.

Because of this, it won't be a surprise if local government officials have now been lax and toothless in enforcing the law if it involves a foreigner, especially an American. Would the local officials now dare to enforce traffic, anti-pollution, zoning, health, anti-littering, anti-jaywalking and other ordinances against Americans, who might just run to the US embassy for help?

Well, at least it cannot be said that the US embassy does not look after and take care of their own people no matter if they're right or wrong.

Can you imagine the Philippine embassy in Washington filing a diplomatic protest on behalf of a Pinoy involved in a traffic incident along Pennsylvania Avenue? Well, I didn't think so either.

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