THE INSIDE MAN

Review those silly laws

Review those silly laws image

Text: Tito F. Hermoso / Photos: | posted August 04, 2010 11:12

Its about time they update the rules

Not a moment too soon as the Police checkpoints and 'no plate no travel' dragnets were dismantled when a relived public was rewarded with a new restriction on the privileged class. Tapping into a festering decades old resentment of the abuse of the oscillating wail of the Federal siren, the 'wang wang' was banned. But not before it was already a tragi-comedic parody of itself where scooters, desperate to keep the deaf drivers of noisy buses and trucks from crushing them, were also using them with abandon as they weave in between the lane markings.

But wait a minute...

But banning the 'wang wang' meant also banning fog lights and plastic plate protecting covers, as those are bundled with the law. It was a poorly crafted law that did not distinguish between one kind of lamp from another or one kind of cover from another. There was a good reason to do so during those latter years of the Marcos regime as poor or no street illumination was the rule and motorists resorted to amateur fitted driving lamps. These were mostly badly adjusted leading to blinding glare on oncoming traffic. Moreover, the auxiliary lights could be jerry-rigged to be a flashing beacon or blinker, mimicking an emergency vehicle.

Confiscate them all and let God sort it out

What were the law enforcers to do, especially those who could not tell the technical difference between a driving lamp, a fog lamp, an emergency beacon and an emergency blinker like those fitted to fire engines? Ban them all and confiscate them. So instead of legislating proper headlight aim adjustment, we had a ridiculous situation where bona fide safety devices like fog lamps and driving lamps were confiscated. Mind you, a World War 2 Jeep's 30watt headlight bulb can blind if badly adjusted.

To cover is to mask

More guilty until proven innocent theme is found in this same piece of sloppy legislation. This concerns the banning any covering of the plate number, even with a transparent plastic sheath. Unfortunately, the Motor Vehicle Code also specifies severe penalties for dirty or mangled license plates. Like in all things, there are good plastic covers and bad ones. The good ones really protect the cheapskate stamped tin sheet license plate numbers from stone pebble and insect damage. These good ones do not distort the legibility of the plate characters and come in good clear plastic that doesn't discolor the appearance of the official plates, at least to the naked eye. Problem is some of the covers come in tints that distort the official color of the plate number. Some problem covers also distort the numbers and letters at a certain angle but surprisingly these are street legal in some countries where widespread use of license plate recording surveillance cameras are used. Their Constitution respect the right to privacy of their citizens.

Uncover more of the stalled laws

What the wang wang ban brought to notice are so many other pending reforms that Ex-Asec Bert Suansing was trying to push in the positions he held at the DOTC. There's the stalled compulsory MVIS - motor vehicle inspection program where high tech European standard testing centers have been on standby for years. The reform of the income wages of the transport industry to deter cut throat competition. The MMDA RFID tag program reallocation of bus routes and terminals away from EDSA Cubao into the Central and Marikina Eastern Terminals. And the replacement of all our license plates to thick plastic elongated European type rectangles with 8 characters as the registration pool is running out of 3 by 3 alpha numeric permutations. Hopefully it does away with the Rizal Monument and the fake looking sky as it distorts the legibility of the license plate more than any plastic cover could. License plate numbers are graphic ID tags and not slogan bearing billboards. Besides, how would the Spanish Ambassador feel if his number '1000' Diplomatic plate, had a symbol that has an unusual significance on his King's history with ours?

Low number, low priority?

As for low numbered license plates, these do not commit abuses. The law does not empower drivers of low numbered license plates to be above the law. It's the drivers of these vehicles and not the office of the low numbered plate number that commit the abuse. Moreover, the bona fide security conscious privilege holders of low numbered license plates actually prefer regular full alpha-numeric license plates for discretion's sake.

Commemorative significance

As for commemorative plates, some people really do like them but strangely, they wouldn't be willing to have a big sticker emblazoned on the flanks or glass. Perhaps if they really think commemorative plates looks good on their vehicle, the law makers might be appealed to allow the display of the commemorative plate only in front while the regular license plate remains in the rear. If law enforcers say that's not good enough, then why do motorcycles, which incidentally have a higher theft rate than cars, not have a front license plate?

Back to the sloppy law

The law of unintended consequences is surely at work here. It's probably some Police divisions that, like the fog light ban, take the no-plate no-travel policy literally. This is surely a case where the law is needs to be revised, and not a moment too soon. Life should be made easier for the law abiding and not for the law enforcer unless they prefer to do nothing.