In My Eyes
By Edward B. Antonio
Sometimes, Philippine laws are just a mockery.
That’s how hard-headed the Filipino, fellas.
Due to this mockery and non-implementation of these laws, many people are compromised or hurt.
A mediaman was cruising the national highway on his way back home when his cellphone rang.
He decided to stop along the shoulder to answer the call, but the highway shoulder was full of palay being dried. He drove further, but the palay queue was very long, and before he reached the end of the palay line, his call terminated. The call came from his boss but he could not call back because he did not have enough load.
All he could do was curse to the heavens the trader who made the highway shoulder his own private solar drier.
A woman was driving her motorcycle when she heard the loud horns of a bus behind her. Peeping through the side mirror, she saw two buses racing together side by side. To avoid getting hit, she drove to the shoulder full of palay being dried. Unfortunately, the front wheel hit the stones which served as boundary barriers between the palay and the highway. The poor woman crashed. She suffered bruises in the arms and face.
Another motorcycle-riding woman who works some 10 kilometers from home usually complains of itchy neck, arms and legs. She is allergic to the palay dust and residues left along the highway shoulders. She has been spending quite a sum already for her doctor’s consultation and medication.
Another junkshop trader made the highway shoulder an extension of his junk shop. Sometimes the dirty junks are just sprawled there in the shoulder. He also turned the opposite shoulder as permanent parking area for his cars and carrier trucks. This panggalog junkshop owner who plies his trade in a town north of Vigan City was already accosted once, but arrogant as he was, he just played deaf to all the warnings.
A concerned individual has this question to these traders and farmers who dry their palay along the national highway: Before the highway shoulders were cemented, where were you drying your palay or corn?
“We have widened the national highways to facilitate smoother flow of traffic especially in major arterial roads and not to be used as solar dryers for palay or corn,” said former Secretary of Public Works and Highways Rogelio Singson.
In fact, the prohibition order has been issued by the DPWH three years ago.
National highways are meant to be used by motorists, not by farmers and traders of agricultural products as dryers for their palay or corn crops, the law says. It has been observed that farmers taking advantage of the good weather are cordoning off sections of national highways while drying their palay and corn stocks.
“To add trouble, the same farmers and rice and corn traders put large stones, if not boulders, and other barriers on the highways to protect their palay and corn from being overrun by passing vehicles,” Singson said, noting that such practices pose danger to motorists.
The order further stipulates a penalty of not less than P1,000 to the trader or farmer violator. But a violator is yet to be caught and penalized!
DPWH’s First Engineering District Head Rey Organo said that all local governments and the town PNP chiefs have been given a copy of the order and it’s already for the local chief executives and the police to implement the law.
But during palay and corn harvest seasons, the law is toothless.
“Maybe these LGU chiefs and the implementing police are also traders, farmers and middlemen themselves and they cannot police themselves,” Mang Maing said.
There was once a farmer who was accosted for drying his palay along the national highway, but he said that he would only stop doing the practice if Mr. Trader-Politician would stop drying his palay or corn along the highway shoulder. Mr. Trader-Politician is a big-time rice trader.
So, that’s it, fellas.
The law is toothless because the implementing people also have palay being dried up there on the highway shoulders.
But this seems to be a national problem.
Let’s read some reactions from concerned netizens:
Ka Patad writes during the last elections: “Dito po sa Laguna District 3 and 4, ngayon pa lang marami na ang nagbibilad ng palay, sa highway, kaya ang mga sasakyan hirap sa pag usad. May mga hollowblocks pa at mga kahoy na many pako, o kaya karetela. Walang namang DPWH para magbawal sa kanila kasi nasa mga opisina na de aircon. Di naman po pinagbabawalan ng mga barangay officials, at LGUs kasi election eh.”
A certain netizen said: “Most of the national highways are already widened but those benefited by it are the unscrupulous people/businessmen. They use the extra lane constructed as their business shop, junk yard, tire & auto shop, furniture shop/show room, construction & hardware display area, parking lot, etc., etc. I asked a policeman friend of mine about this, he said they are tired of warning these people. Walang disiplina. Sayang lang ang road users tax namin kung palay lang ang makikinabang.”
Mr. Hustler Galore commented: “Unang linya pa lang natawa na ako sa balitang ito. Maraming gamit ang kalye dito not only for drying crops. Meron diyang basketball court, public market extension, parking lot ng mga mayayamang estudyante ng mga mayayamang unibersidad, pwesto ng lamayan, bingohan etc etc.
But the more alarming report is this one from an anonymous netizen: “Yang backdoor roads from Lingayen, Pangasinan to Camiling, Tarlac — most of the highways are filled with palay and when you cannot avoid running over these, the farmers hurl stones at your car. Sila pa ang galit like they own the roads!”
So until when the highways serve as solar driers, fellas?
Until there are rice paddies. Or until there are highway shoulders.
But when will this practice stop?
“Until the law grows teeth,” Mang Maing said.#