ONE FRIDAY NIGHT, after an exhausting workweek, I was in a video shop in Laoag looking for a good movie to watch when I chanced at City Councilor Joseph Tamayo who was also on a scout for good films. The good councilor suggested to me “Law-abiding Citizen,” a film that stars Jamie Foxx.
The movie intrigued me instantly because I consider myself a citizen who has high regard for the rule of law, and more so in Laoag, the city of my affections. A traffic enforcer flagged me one time because my motorcycle had an open pipe. I am not a fan of anything noisy, my friends know how much I value silence, but when I bought the second-hand vehicle, it was set-up with an open pipe, and I was not aware that it was not welcome in my city given the number of motorcycles with open pipes around her streets. But informed that I was in violation of an Anti-Nuisance Ordinance, I respectfully presented my driver’s license, gladly accepted my violation ticket, and sincerely thanked the traffic enforcer for conscientiously doing his job. I went to the city hall and paid my three-hundred-peso fine the next day.
My friends would later on laugh at me. “You should have told the enforcer that you’re from the media, and he would have given you a chance,” they said. Sadly, they didn’t get the point. I write for a community newspaper and so I am in a better position to know existing legislation. It was a shame that I was ignorant, and the least that I could do was to pay my dues, and help inform the public of the law.
Tamayo, I know, is of the same stock. He was once flagged by Land Transportation Office personnel due to a violation: the Sangguniang Panlungsod’s majority leader was not wearing a helmet. He likewise accepted his ticket and went through the process, like any law-abiding citizen should.
As a survivor of two motorcycle accidents, I know how important the wearing of helmet is. Sans the protection a reliable head gear, either I would not be alive now or permanent damaged would have marked my shining, shimmering, widening forehead. And so I wear that monstrosity, no matter how inconvenient, every time I ride my motorcycle, and I encourage others to do the same.
I am a law-abiding citizen, and our washerwoman, who knows that I would rather keep garbage in my pocket rather than throw them in Laoag’s patently clean streets, would attest.
But what does one do when faced with a law that is patently strange, such as the one recently sponsored by Tamayo, Franklin Dante Respicio, Donald Nicolas, and David Frez? City Ordinance No. 2010-03 penalizes, among others, the wearing of tsinelas while riding a motorcycle in any street in the city.
This piece of legislation does not reflect the true sentiment of the people these gentlemen were voted to represent. I do not say that laws must always be populist, for real leaders, dear karikna, must not be afraid to make difficult decisions, and this is the best time to make unpopular legislation because the elections are over two years away, definitely not the time to fear losing votes, given our people’s short memory. But I believe the Sangguniang Panlungsod, who unanimously approved the ordinance, are wasting their political capital on this particular measure.
The public, as expected, met this ordinance with much resistance—from farmers who do not own shoes to sons sent by their frantic mothers to buy three pieces of tomato at the market. Continue reading