EGALITARIAN| Friday the 13th indeed

WELL, this had been a very old belief. It stem from the story of Jesus’ last crucifixion where 13 individuals were gathered in the upper room the night before his death. This belief, according to behavioral science studies have altered the way people behave on a Friday. Some avoided going out, some would decide to cancel a flight due to this superstition. The other which is far more portentous, it is the gathering of 12 witches and 1 devil.

Mine takes a different stride. Last Friday I was flagged down by LTO amidst confusion of LTO Law, City Government’s decision of traffic relief and the Magna Carta for the disabled.

For all I believed, turning left from a middle lane is a fine turn during those times as all other big trucks who are using the road did the same. The arrow pointing to left and the circles are on green suggesting that vehicles can turn left while the oncoming vehicles of the opposite side wait for the left-turn-arrow to disappear.

Time then was different, the City just allowed a single lane of the Diversion road. That Friday evening, commuters suffer a bumper-to-bumper traffic for yet another closure of the Diversion road for another threat of landslide at Shrine hills. So time was really different, as my case is totally different from the rest of the drivers. I am a polio victim who drives own car.

Going to the morning of that Friday, knowing that Maa road is a traffic relief for motorists, lo and behold, the LTO flagged me down. So slowly I moved to the shoulder, opened my window, and prepared the license. Then I asked the LTO agent what was wrong, he said, “Sir, bawal ang middle lane magturn left” Then I asked, dugay na balaod na? Ang CTTMO ginapaliko gud mi” (this of course due to the diversion road closure). Without answer, he took my card went into the front (where he could have seen my PWD sticker) and asked for my signature then told that you can use this for 3 days referring to the TOP. Then I told him, “sir PWD baya ko, ikaw ako pangitaon sa LTO if ako kuhaon ang license” as I was already thinking of the trouble to park, to walk at the LTO office and how to insert in the throng of people waiting at the LTO office.

As I was staring at my front, a black SUV was allowed to go without even a citation. And what was that for? To me, it was a message that a disabled is an unwelcome driver. I am a disabled person. Yet I had my car registered after modifying it, I sought approval of two doctors to allow me to drive. Our experience is a triple worse than what ordinary driver can experience. Of an estimated 40,000 registered persons with disability in Davao City, there were only around five to 10 of us who drive own car. It is my conscious effort to make my fellow disabled acquire cars; my first witness to this is Reden Martinez, the president of ADAP. Most of us disabled who drive our car know the fundamental of the laws, as we are aware of our privileges set by the Magna Carta and the BP 344.

When I turned left to Maa, there was no thought that it was a traffic violation. There was no signage to tell the public not to turn left. The big trucks which were advised to use the Maa road are using the middle lane to turn left. For the longest time, the CTTMO personnel had been there since, and neither reminder nor citation to that effect to educate the public that it is prohibited.

To this end, is it really hard to be considerate and feel for others who have different conditions in life? I was asked by the Chief of Operations of the LTO, do you expect to be always given consideration when you violate the traffic rules. My answer is NO. Do not consider us when we beat the red light, do not consider us when we over speed. These are deliberate acts to cause trouble.

Consider us when we park near the entries or exits of the building, consider us if there seemed to be incongruence with the LTO law and the Welfare Law (Magna Carta for Disabled and the BP 344). The LTO agent seemed to decimate the essence of welfare and decided to exact enforcement. Let this be a guide, John Locke’s social contract decides that it is the role of the government to ensure protection of the marginalized before the law; a special grant of attention to them for they need more for them to stand equal with rest in face of the law. I think, it is just right that every person should feel for others, please feel for us also, and feel for the disabled, the senior citizens, the pregnant women. We need your understanding of our concerns. It does not make you less of a person, in fact, it makes you stand better in the barometer of humanity.

Posted in Opinion