BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Jaywalkers in Davao City are kindly treated than their cousins in the cities of MetroManila.
While there authorities are running after jaywalkers and upping fines, jaywalkers in Davao City—despite existence of an ordinance against jaywalking —can cross any street as if they are walking under the moon.
To top if off, there is a move in the Davao City Council to “decriminalize” jaywalking which means one could violate the ordinance over and over without being charged in court.
Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also helped make the anti-jaywalking ordinance a toothless legislation.
I would shoot any driver who would run over somebody crossing the street even if the green light is on for vehicles, he said once on television.
It should be people’s lives first and drivers should not give the alibi that they were given the green light, he said.
Traffic cops also are not interested in enforcing the law, and simply look away upon seeing violations.
Because it has not been seriously implemented, the anti-jaywalking ordinance has landed in the list of city councilor Melchor Quitain as among the many “landmark legislation” that he described as “landmark embarassments” passed by the Davao City Council.
Approved by the Davao City Council in 1992, the ordinance became the talk of the town when the then newly-created Traffic Control and Management Board (TMCB) and its implementing arm Traffic Management Center (TMC) adopted a controversial scheme during the initial implementation of the ordinance, in a bid to force pedestrians to use pedestrian lanes in crossing the streets.
The scheme involved fielding TMC traffic enforcers to apprehend violators and bring them to holding areas where they are given lectures after being booked for violation.
With hundreds of violators being arrested and held at the holding centers one of which is at the Rizal Park, the anti-jaywalking campaign gained so much media and public attention.
The holding center itself at the Rizal Park, a small area enclosed with a rope and roofed with a tarpaulin, with a giant streamer at the side with the markings “Jaywalkers Club” lured a sizable crowd who gathered around the holding area to ogle at the violators.
With the violators inside the center hiding their faces from the ridiculing public, the Jaywalkers Club scheme came short of being a shame campaign.
The holding centers became home to violators for a week, until something happened that sent City Hall to assess whether or not it was in the right direction in herding the violators in an enclosed area at a public park like pigs.
One morning, a lawyer crossed San Pedro St. in front of the City Hall without using the pedestrian lane.
He was promptly apprehended and escorted to the Jaywalkers Club holding center at the Rizal Park.
The lawyer, a well-known figure in the legal circle, felt offended after suffering the ignominy of being publicly ridiculed while being held with the other violators for an hour at the Jaywalkers Club.
After being released, the lawyer went straight to the office of the Commission on Human Rights to file human rights violations against then Mayor Duterte, the late then the City Legal Officer Onofre Francisco, and other City Hall officials behind the Jaywalkers Club holding area implementation.
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