Martial law abuses

>> Thursday, June 1, 2017

March L. Fianza

While still on his trip to meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Philippine President Duterte on Tuesday night placed all of the southern island of Mindanao under martial law, following deadly encounters between government forces and Islamist radicals.
Government troops are fighting about 50 members of the Maute clan, considered a local terrorist group in Marawi City responsible for kidnapping, hostage-taking and bombings in the locality.
Mindanao is home to around 20 million people which, makes up around one fifth of the country’s population. The President’s announcement limited martial law to Mindanao but he also said he is willing to impose martial law nationwide if needed.
While Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said martial law in Mindanao would last for 60 days which the Constitution allows, Duterte said this can last for as long as a year, depending on the situation.
After Tuesday’s declaration, President Duterte whose controversial war on drugs claimed thousands of lives said, he might be forced to ignore the Constitution if there is need to impose martial law nationwide.
Comparing the imposition of military rule in Mindanao as similar to the martial law of President Marcos in 1972, Duterte however said that abuses will not be allowed. The first few years of martial rule in the 70s stabilized communities, although abuses were later reported, some of which I can colorfully recall.
Along Magsaysay Avenue in front of the public market and General Luna Road, I can still remember PC soldiers and local cops holding scissors and stopping the jeepneys. The soldiers would then ask the passengers to alight.
Then the cops would stare down the dresses of the lady and snip their skirts if these were short. Male passengers would have their hair cut against their will if these were long.
Fast forward to last Tuesday afternoon, President Duterte has yet to declare martial law nationwide but in La Trinidad, Benguet, traffic policemen are already making their own rules and becoming the prosecutor, judge and executioner rolled into one.
I parked along Halsema National Highway just across one of the gates of the Benguet State University and have just alighted to quickly buy some goods when suddenly a cop was stealing picture(s) of my beetle then crossed the road to his patrol jeep that was parked at the opposite side.
There was a van that left before I parked and there were passenger jeepneys behind me but there were no cops, making me think that the implementation of a traffic policy was selective.
I felt cheated because I had just parked with the motor still switched on and running when the cop appeared, took the picture, saw me get back to the car but did not bother to talk to me and explain the violations, if any.
That portion of the highway is used as a loading and unloading section for residents and students from BSU so that if I violated a “no parking rule”, the passenger jeeps likewise should not be allowed to unload and pick up passengers.
That part of the highway is lined by hardware stores and basic commodity stores so that trucks that are backing in and out to pick up deliveries all the more cause traffic. Also, there are no traffic signs that indicate the corresponding violation.
I have not heard of any public information drive in La Trinidad regarding traffic policemen being ordered by law to take pictures of motor vehicles causing traffic, which is required of any ordinance since implementation of rules and law enforcement are based on consultation and not dictatorial.
Consider the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act that was suspended because there were no public consultations with the public.
Relative to this, there are guidelines in the implementation of the “No Physical Contact Apprehension” that traffic cops in Manila strictly follow. I wish to include them here for the guidance of our traffic cops who are ignorant of the law.
Yes, the image of the vehicle violating traffic rules are recorded or captured thru the use of CCTV, digital cameras and other gadgets that are used to capture videos and images.
But, a “First” Notice signed by the traffic division head and the cameraman who took the video or picture shall be issued to the vehicle owner. The traffic cops did not do this, but just left like dogs.
The first notice shall indicate the date, time, location, traffic violation committed, the assessed penalties and a photo of the apprehended vehicle. The first notice shall identify the driver at the time and place indicated in the notice, and the address.
The notice shall likewise contain a statement that the traffic violator shall have the right to file a protest before the Traffic Adjudication Division within seven days from receipt of the Notice, and failure to do so within the prescribed period shall be seen as a waiver of such right to contest the traffic violation.
Within fifteen days from receipt of an adverse TAD resolution, the driver may file a Motion for Reconsideration. If the MR is denied, the driver within 30 days from receipt of the denial may file an appeal with higher officials where the Decision shall be final and executory.
By the way, payment of fines and penalties shall be paid within seven days upon receipt of the first notice unless a protest is filed. And if no protest was filed within the 7-day prescriptive period, and the fines remain unpaid, a Final Notice to settle the violation shall be issued.

I felt aggrieved and deceived because I was not given any chance to argue my side. If these are the cops that we pay out of our taxes in our communities, then they will continue to take advantage of us instead of protecting us.


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