Sunday, August 30, 2015

Traffic: Another Manifestation of Our Culture of Palusot

The issue of the horrendous traffic situation is now crowding front page news and the government had ran out of ideas to address it as shown by the recycled schemes being proposed lately.  The President himself endorsed the “Odd-Even” scheme and this idea is already as stale as it can be.  Moreover, all the other proposals are just band aid solutions that in my opinion, do not address the underlying problem of traffic which I believe is a direct result of our “Culture of Palusot.”   I discussed a facet of this culture in a previous article “Pork: A Culture of Palusot” as applied to the pork barrel issue.

Our traffic problem is not caused ay a single identifiable factor that can be isolated and addressed by a single clear cut solution no matter how holistic it is.  This problem is but a microcosm of our society in general that no matter how you address the 3Es of Traffic (Engineering, Education, and Enforcement).  Any scheme will still fall short—unless the underlying factor, “The Culture of Palusot” is addressed!  So what are the daily manifestations of this “Culture of Palusot” in traffic?

1.         My favorite pet peeve:  Palusot at Intersections.

Did you notice our attitude in the intersections?  “Dutdot tayo ng dutdot sa pwet ng sinusundan natin kahit wala naman tayong mapupuntahan!”  And so we encounter a situation that everyone is at a standstill because everybody is blocking everybody!

And do you notice the facial expression of a driver stranded in the middle of the intersection because s/he tried to run the yellow light thus was not able to completely clear the road like in EDSA-Kamuning or EDSA-Aurora Boulevard intersection?  Dedma lang, with no sign of embarrassment whatsoever!

The same is true with vehicles caught blocking the intersection with a line of left turning vehicles:  not even a glance at the mess that they are doing!  The attitude is, “E walang magawa e.  Inabutan ng pula e.” even though that s/he knows very well right at the very start that with the yellow light flashing, there is no way that s/he can clear the intersection before the red light goes on.  The worst part of this however is that the traffic enforcers who are supposed to enforce the law and apprehend such motorists for beating the red light had already turned numb and apathetic to the violation because of at the end of the day, this is the most common “palusot” situation there is on the road.  Wala nang nahuhuli sa violation na ito dahil sigurado away ang aabutin ng mga traffic aides sa mga gago, pilosopo, and most of all, PALUSOT drivers!

Phillip Morris is bad for your health

This provides the premise of my next equally blood curdling pet peeve:

2.         That palusot na “Kung sino ang nakabangga, sya ang may kasalanan.”

This philosophy is among the top reasons why there is chaos on our streets and it actually has basis in our laws!  It is called the doctrine of last clear chance and the the most oftenly cited case is Philippine National Railways v. Brunty:

The doctrine of last clear chance states that where both parties are negligent but the negligent act of one is appreciably later than that of the other, or where it is impossible to determine whose fault or negligence caused the loss, the one who had the last clear opportunity to avoid the loss but failed to do so, is chargeable with the loss. Stated differently, the antecedent negligence of plaintiff does not preclude him from recovering damages caused by the supervening negligence of defendant, who had the last fair chance to prevent the impending harm by the exercise of due diligence.

While this doctrine is good if applied properly, in our society with an overpopulation of lawyers, its inevitable bastardization is almost a foregone conclusion.  This is the reason why drivers swerve with impunity—because if you hit a swerving driver, it is still your fault, kasi nga “nakanguso na sya” and you have the last clear chance to avoid the collision.  Never mind that swerving is a violation defined by RA 4136 as reckless driving.

Pag nabangga mo ang ulol na bus na yan, ikaw ang may kasalanan!

If you hit a pedestrian in the middle of a higway, the police will still file a case of reckless imprudence against you, again, because you have the last clear chance to avoid the accident by applying the brakes!   Never mind that there is also that “Emergency Doctrine” and the blaring signs of Bayani Fernando shouting “WALANG TAWIRAN!  NAKAMAMATAY!”

Tawid pa more mga ate!

And this brings me to my other pet peeve:

3.         Palusot drivers and other road users including pedestrians and TRAFFIC INVESTIGATORS

In a previous article where I slammed Top Gear Philippines (Stupid Drivers), I noted that it was not only drivers and ordinary folks who are ignorant of our traffic laws.  Even police investigators hold misconceptions that started out as palusot but had became accepted as the truth with the passing of time because everybody exploited it for their advantage.  And with media outlets like Top Gear who have no qualms at prevarication just to forward its selfish agenda, then we have an inevitable disaster in our hands that is now manifesting as this monster called traffic.

Sige Top Gear, palusot pa more!

So what do I think is the solution to this traffic?  Well for starters, it will not hurt to revisit the basic of basics:  the original three Es:  Engineering, Education, and Enforcement. 

Traffic engineering should be given to people who actually know what they are doing or more specifically, had personal experience of what they are talking about!  One example of a scheme crafted by people who did not actually experience what they are proposing is the common terminal project that among others, attempted to ban provincial buses along EDSA.  I tackled this in a previous article that you can read here.  The traffic problem is most felt by the common tao because he is in the middle of it sweating it out in the long lines of the MRT or running after an SRO bus during rain at rush hour.  It is best addressed by people who come from this strata, not the executives who, all their lives had been riding in airconditioned SUVs even in their short trips to the mall!

Education should be honest to goodness with the LTO being in the forefront of this.  Wag lang pamemera ng pamemera ang atupagin nila.  They should invest in more competent traffic educators who must be properly compensated.  Sino sa inyo ang talagang dumaan sa seminar at examination nung kumuha sya ng lisensya?  Why are you smiling and asking, “Ay, may ganyan pala?”  Most probably, an instructor just signed your certifications without ever personally seeing you because your papers were all processed by a fixer who paid the instructor for your "non-appearance" seminar!  Tama?

Enforcement is another aspect that needs a complete overhaul.  Honest enforcers are not enough.  We also need them to be competent.  In a previous article, “Stupid Drivers,” I cited an example of a traffic investigator who lived all his life on “oido.”  I seriously doubt if he had actually studied RA 4136!  At the end of the day, one of the pronouncements of The Chief, Police Director Ric Marquez is applicable in our traffic enforcement as well:  “The best deterrent to crime is the certainty of arrest.”  Modified and applied to traffic, we can expect to deter traffic law violations if we can make certain the punishment because the enforcers actually know what they are doing and they have the competence to enforce it to the letter.

Just like in Subic:  NO PALUSOT!


  1. Your points are valid. However, the main reason for the worsening traffic situation is two-fold. The first is the burgeoning population and the resulting increase in vehicles sold and registered in this area. Then there have been no noticeable improvements in the infrastucture of the metropolitan area. The relocation of NAIA to Clark and the closure of the ports in Manila will go a long way towards easing traffic congestion, but it is also necessary to build more roads. And your point about stupid drivers is correct, but unless the rule of law is followed there is no end in sight. In New York the block, meaning the square area on two intersecting streets cannot be blocked, so the lanes that have the green light can proceed unimpeded. If you insist on squeezing in and part of your car is caught in the box, you face a hefty fine. The Filipino driver does not recognize this courtesy, and so chaos prevails. Also, if you are turning right, you do not have the right of way. The right of way belongs to the guy going straight. Driving in Manila I have seen many drivers going straight because the left turning vehicles keep coming. The system is rotten so traffic stinks. There is no solution except build more roads and change the way people drive, which is like spitting in the wind. Poor Philippines.

    1. thanks for the comments! poor philippines talaga!

  2. Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one!


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