July 23, 2024

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

The presumption of regularity should prevail so that policies that are crafted to ensure these will fulfill their purpose.

Councilor Jose Molintas emphasized this during the public hearing held to gather inputs on the proposed amendatory ordinance that would allow senior citizens who are headed to work and those who are seeking medical consults to be exempted by the Number Coding Ordinance.

Molintas added the proposal is also not meant to generate additional funds for the city government by imposing penalties on violators.

The proposed ordinance provides that when needed, the senior citizens should show proof they are qualified for the exemption from the ordinance by showing their identification cards.

What happens when a senior citizen cannot show an identification because they forgot to bring one?

Molintas said this is where the enforcers’ discernment come in: direct them to other routes or allow them to pass for humanitarian considerations.

Molintas and Councilor Peter Fianza said senior citizens should not be issued citation tickets when they say they forgot to bring their cards.     

“It is not our duty to make money out of violations. If a senior citizen says they forgot to bring their ID, they should be directed to another route or be allowed to pass through the CBD for humanitarian considerations,” Molintas said.

He said the exemption is only one of the ways the city government can show it recognizes the need to give privileges to the elders, which is also provided for in the law.

It was reiterated the vehicle, with the senior citizen as drivers or a passenger, is only exempted from the coding scheme at the CBD if the purpose is to bring the elder to and from work and to and from a medical consultation.    

Daryll Longid, head of the Public Order and Safety Division, aired the sentiments of traffic enforcers about the challenges once the ordinance is approved and implemented.

He said the ordinance might be abused and can become the cause of traffic congestion when the enforcers have to ask the elders to prove that they are qualified for the exemption.

Molintas said the presumption of honesty should prevail.

“We should presume people to be honest. Let us give the senior citizens the benefit of the doubt. How will you argue if they say they forgot their IDs? The solution is to direct them on which way to go to avoid apprehension or simply let them pass,” he said. 

Representatives of other sectors, such as parents of children undergoing therapies and the media, also sought the possibility of being exempted from the ordinance.

Molintas said for children needing therapy, the best way to avoid apprehension is to set the therapy on days their vehicles are not banned from the CBD.

For the media who need to enter the CBD during their coding days because of coverage, Molintas said they can always coordinate with the police so members of the media can be given work-related exemptions.