DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 Sept) — An angry Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte faced a gym full of jeepney drivers and operators Wednesday, saying he will come up with an ordinance prescribing jail terms for reckless driving in the city.
At the same time, Duterte told drivers a 30-kilometer-per-hour speed limit will be imposed in the city starting Thursday, a speed that he said is so slow it will not allow drivers to overtake even a funeral procession.
“Try to overtake a funeral procession, you’ll exceed the limits, you violate the law,” said Duterte, shaking with rage over the senseless death of eight people, including a pregnant woman, in a reckless driving accident in Talomo District on Friday, September 24.
It was the second deadliest accident involving an “uso-uso” jeepney driver in the city after another accident in Mintal a few months back. An “uso-uso” jeepney is a modified vehicle fitted with more powerful engines.
“You ask for it, I’ll give you what you want,” Duterte, speaking at the top of his voice, told the drivers. “I will come up with the ordinance. This is already a public hearing.”
Gomer Dy, regional director of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), told Duterte in a separate meeting earlier the LTO will conduct random checks to see to it that operators did not modify the engines registered at the LTO at the expense of customer safety.
“It is illegal to change the engines without our approval,” Dy said over reports that some “uso-uso” jeepney operators have discarded the engines registered with the LTO and replaced them with the ones used by bigger trucks.
“We have to see to it that the configuration of the jeepney still matched the one they registered,” Dy said.
“We’ve deputized the highway patrol to conduct random check,” said Dy in a separate meeting with Duterte at the Grand Menseng Hotel. The meeting was also attended by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the police.
Lawyer Abdulgafar Mohammad, LTFRB regional chief, also said that under the Local Government Code (LGC), it is within the city’s jurisdiction to enact an ordinance prescribing speed limit in the city in the interest of public safety.
Under the Traffic Code of the Philippines, vehicles passing through crowded streets with intersections and blind corners and those passing school zones are only allowed a maximum speed of 20 kph; those passing city and municipal streets, 30 kph; and those passing by streets and boulevards cleared of traffic, 40 kph.
“Kanang inyong sakyanan, dili na na inyo (Your vehicles are no longer your own),” Duterte told the stunned jeepney drivers and operators at the Almendras Gym. “When you applied for a certificate of public convenience, half of that is already owned by the public,” he said.
“I already told you before. Inig bangga, ang tawo, ang iya kontra, puthaw ug semento (During collision, man will be cast against iron and concrete),” he said.
“What shall I do? I could no longer bring back to life those who died,” an angry Duterte said. “It is unfair for those who lost a mother, a father from this accident because of you.”
He asked the LTO and the LTFRB to revoke the permits of abusive drivers and operators.
Edel Gonzaga, secretary-general of the transport group Transmission-Piston, said they understand the vice mayor because of the death of nine people but it was a pity majority of the drivers who behaved well on the road will have to suffer for the wrongdoings of the reckless few.
Duterte said he will also initiate a random drug test for jeepney drivers.
He said there is reason to suspect that the driver in last week’s accident could have taken illegal substance.
The vice mayor noted that there was a known “active player” in Calinan who had been disposed of earlier “but may have gone active.”
He admitted, though, that the city might have a hard time subjecting the drivers to a drug test because of their constitutional rights issues. (Germelina Lacorte / MindaNews)