July 16, 2024

The proposal to exempt senior citizens from the implementation of the Number Coding Ordinance especially when traversing the central business district (CBD) will be an acid test of how truthful and obedient the residents of Baguio City are in terms of complying with local policies.
The proposed amendatory ordinance that sought to allow senior citizens to enter the CBD even during the days that their vehicles are covered by the number coding scheme was the subject of a public discussion called by the city council on July 10. It is up for third and final reading.
While the intention of the ordinance is noble, we share the view of traffic enforcers that without clear guidelines, the policy can be abused and can again subject the law enforcers to undue bullying.
At the same time, this ordinance will also test how honest and law-abiding the Baguio residents are.
The ordinance provides that the exemption accorded to the senior citizens only applies when they go to work and when they are headed to a medical consultation. This means elders who go out even when their vehicles are covered by the coding scheme for reasons other than an emergency, work, and medical appointments should avoid passing through the CBD.
We are confident that our senior citizens who will benefit from the exemption are honest and obedient enough to not abuse the privilege accorded them.
We are confident they will help the authorities by bringing with them their identification cards at all times and that if they are not headed for work or are not set for medical consultation, they will take the initiative to use routes outside the CBD, as what responsible citizens should do.
However, we also recognize that when policies are not clear and are subject to different interpretations, these can cause misunderstanding and chaos instead of order.
We understand the fear of the traffic personnel that the exemption can be prone to abuse, especially if it is not explained clearly to the senior citizens, or to concerned individuals serving as drivers of the elders. Besides, when laws or policies are crafted, it is the implementers who bear the brunt of public ridicule and pressure.
It is important for the policy makers and the implementers, in this case, the city council and the Baguio City Police Office and other deputized traffic law enforcers to continuously engage and address the possible gray areas in the ordinance to ensure its smooth implementation and avoid a situation where one party is unduly subjected to harassment or humiliation.
This will also avoid a scenario where law enforcers are accused of being inconsistent if they are lenient to one group then go strict on another.
As we await the implementation of the exemption, we call on all sectors to do their share in ensuring the city’s streets safe and congestion-free.