At the top of Session Road, where the rotunda is, people risk life and limb squeezing between concrete and iron barriers, playing a potentially fatal game of patintero with motorists, brazenly and oh so easily ignoring the huge signs that say, “no jaywalking” and “violators will be apprehended.” And what’s worse is that the scene repeatedly happens right across the office of the city’s traffic management czar. And what makes matters even worse is that even policemen do it.
It’s the same thing at the bottom of the Session Road where the city’s so-called experts on traffic management had this bright idea of closing the pedestrian crossing lane right across Mercury Drug. While I believe that the move was anti-pedestrian, elitist even, a rule is a rule.
At the upper part of Abanao Street, they left open a few meters of the rest of the center island fronting a gasoline station, just a few meters from the newly-constructed pedestrian overpass. This un-barricaded part of the road has now become an open invitation to the lazy to again violate a rule – people of all ages can be seen darting through traffic in this area instead of using the overpass.
What’s all the ado about jaywalking? Because it says a lot about us as a community and Baguio as a city.
For every jaywalker that gets away with it, that’s one person who believes that the law isn’t something to be taken seriously. That’s one person who will find it easier to park his vehicle illegally, beat the red light, not segregate his garbage, smoke in public buildings maybe even right in the heart of Justice Hall in full view of the public like someone I know, cheat on his taxes, not issue a receipt if he owned a business, drive a colorum taxicab, be an illegal vendor or a legal vendor of illegal merchandise, and so on and so forth. Am I exaggerating? Look around you.
Our government flaunts all these laws that in the end aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Take the seatbelt law for example: when it was introduced not so long ago, every motorist in the city obeyed simply because the law was strictly enforced. Well, at least for a while. I was once apprehended for not wearing my seatbelt and I remember thanking the policeman for the reminder. But that law has since been forgotten and today, even most taxi and jeepney drivers don’t even bother to pretend they have a seatbelt on by just placing the lifesaving contraption across their chest without actually locking it in place.
You let them get away with one, you encourage them to try to get away with another.
Late at night, if you stop at a red light even if it’s clear that there are no cars approaching, you suddenly become the stupid one when the car right behind you starts honking his horn egging you to violate the law. At the lane crossing Mabini Street, you’re the dumb one who waits for the pedestrian light to turn green even if there’s no car coming down the street as everyone else starts crossing, at times you even get screamed at by those behind you for being in the way of their being a scofflaw.
What’s the point? If you can’t enforce it, scrap the law! Take out the No Jaywalking signs because yes, our police allow jaywalking. Take out the signs that say Violators Will Be Apprehended because violators don’t get apprehended.
For if our government cannot implement even the simplest of laws such as the one jaywalking, how can we expect it to lift a finger at all to enforce more complicated laws that, say, protect and defend our environment and our right to a healthful climate?