Taking a look at the Bacolod City government’s history with implementing policy, there is little doubt anything happens with the recent release of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2020-036, which bars tricycles from national highways. Watchmen Daily Journal columnist Emmanuel Canto has been covering the issue with several articles but, the question remains, will there be a meaningful response from local officials?
The circular makes it very clear: “No tricycles/pedicabs along national highways.” The directive goes on to reiterate, “No tricycle or pedicab should operate on national highways utilized by four-wheel vehicles;” adding, “The prohibition includes the use by tricycles and pedicabs of national highways for crossing and making a U-turn.”
DILG also lays out guidelines on non-compliance, noting: “Local chief executives shall be issued show cause orders in case of non-compliance and, failure to provide sufficient response, shall be grounds in the filing of the appropriate administrative cases.”
Despite the possibility of administrative charges, it is still doubtful anything happens.
In August 2017, the Bacolod City Sangguniang Panlungsod approved a resolution urging the strict enforcement of a previously-passed ordinance that bans the use of plastic bags; something that has been adopted by cities around the world.
According to City Ordinance 562, passed in October 2011, business establishments are not allowed to “utilize, sell, or provide plastic bags.” The ordinance defined plastic bags as “a type of bag made of thin, flexible, plastic film that is designed to be provided or utilized at the point of sale for containing, carrying, holding, and transporting goods.”
The policy required businesses – Including market vendors – to provide “alternative packaging material” for free.
The resolution also included penalties.
A P1,000 fine for any individual or business found in violation of the ordinance; a second offense carries a P3,000 fine; while a third offense is assessed a P5,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Additionally, on a third offense, businesses caught in violation of the ordinance will see their business license canceled for one year.
To this day, three years after the second ordinance (and nine years after the original ordinance) none of it has been enforced. Plastic bags continue to be used by every business, from small market vendors to large-scale grocery stores and, at this point, the major supermarkets in town must be beyond their third offense and none of them have seen their business license canceled.
Yet, this policy is somehow touted as an “accomplishment?” Apparently, the local definition of an “accomplishment” is merely getting something done in writing without having to act on the matter. How shallow.
In April 2017, the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office touted the success of city ordinances requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets and combating jaywalking.
City officials boasted about collecting P51,800 from jaywalking violations after only two days of implementation, while another P178,100 came after 10 days of implementing the helmet ordinance. Without a doubt, those are impressive numbers.
However, this was a personal turning point for me; when it became clear that no real change would ever be seen in the near future – or my lifetime.
Given the fact that the city saw a windfall from implementing the ordinances over a few days and it did not motivate those in charge to continue beyond one or two weeks, it makes one question, how is an influx of money into city coffers not enough of an incentive to those in elected office?
Today, the streets of Bacolod City are crawling with jaywalkers, even people walking parallel to traffic. The unlawful practice continues to go unfettered and has since boiled down to being “a part of life” in Bacolod City, a so-called “model city” (the entire “discipline” initiative is pointless when a “model city” tolerates rampant jaywalking).
On top of that, many motorcyclists continue to operate without helmets, often times with an entire family in tow. This makes it even more ridiculous when city officials discuss plans to “suspend” helmet ordinances – no need to suspend a policy that goes mostly ignored.
Perhaps the tricycle ban goes the way of the plastic bag ban, superficial policy./WDJ