In his past SONA, President Duterte’s words were clear: Reclaim, clear all public roads to solve traffic. With his 60-day deadline drawing nearer, various and numerous local governments have switched their efforts into overdrive.
Just yesterday, Clearing Operations were conducted by DPOS (Department of Public Order and Safety) accompanied by local police in Barangay Laging Handa in Quezon City. Just so we know, the said barangay is in the vicinity of Tomas Morato, a bustling area of restaurants, offices, and business. Parking along the side streets cutting through the main avenue, then, is inevitable. That is until yesterday.
According to enforcers that we spoke to, they are simply carrying out the provisions of Quezon City Ordinance No. SP-1444. In this document are found the rules that bind people and vehicles to follow laws on, for this specific operation, parking along side streets and sidewalks.
As was expected, the enforcers were met with a lot of questions, and even more complaints and shouting. But they remained steadfast in their duties, and with good reason. What they are implementing is law.
Let’s make it clear, though, that this does not only apply to the above-mentioned barangay. SP-1444 covers all of Quezon City. So where does this leave those who park their cars along the streets and sidewalks. Law enforcement’s answer was very straightforward: “Different barangays may have their own local ordinances regarding street parking”.
Here’s an example from yesterday: cars parked along Sct. Fernandez, Sct., Fuentebella, Sct. Limbaga, and Sct. Rallos on the side of Brgy. Laging Handa were cited, whereas those along the same street but on the side of Brgy. Sacred Heart were not. It seems, then, that what the enforcers said holds true. Apparently, Brgy. Sacred Heart has already worked on their own city hall-approved ordinance following clearing operations from about one or two months ago. Should any car be caught “illegally” parked, owners will be given a ticket and fined PhP 350.
This then led us to our next question: what of restaurants and establishments that put up “Reserved” posts in the middle of parking slots and tell motorists that they cannot park in said slots? “Simple,’ the enforcer told us. “That is illegal. Parking slots are public property, therefore no one can prohibit you from using them. If anyone forces this, you can call QC’s 122 emergency and information helpline. If still, they (parking or establishment attendants) do not cooperate, then you can call The President’s 8888 hotline. Rest assured that we will respond to calls made to either numbers.”
Worth mentioning amidst all this talk is the fact that no citations or apprehensions were seen just a bit further down the road. Just a block from where we were is a certain establishment that high-ranking officials frequent. Vehicles bearing government or low numbered 'protocol' license plates would park along the side streets, but again, there wasn't much visible enforcement being done. Erring on their efforts? We hope not. We were assured, though, that they will be dealt with accordingly. As to whether they come through with their word or not, we hope to see the former.
Not too many people agree with such operations; most arguing that a heads-up is a requirement before law enforcers engage in such actions. But what most fail to see is that, as was mentioned, what they are doing is simply implementing the law. Ignorance is, was, and never must be an excuse to not follow the law. Granted, perhaps local governments (barangays) must also carry out their duty to inform and enforce rules in their areas of jurisdiction, but it all boils down to us, as citizens, to be part of the solution.
The next move is up to all of us, citizens, government officials, and law enforcers alike.