Davao Jaywalkers Get a Break from Duterte

Mar. 12, 2007

DAVAO CITY — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday that jaywalkers need not spend time in jail. Instead, a lecture on obeying traffic laws should do to punish them and, hopefully, stop repeat offenses. A current law considers jaywalking as a criminal offense, which is “silly,” Duterte said in his TV program “Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa” Sunday.

Although his opinion would not stop the Davao City Police from implementing the existing law, the tough-talking mayor said he would rather have the police take offenders to police stations and give them a lecture. The police need not even put the offenders’ names in the police blotter.

“I don’t want to shame people,” Duterte explained. The mayor believes that such a minor offense might cause trouble for people; they might, for instance, end up having a difficult time procuring clearances in the future because of the jaywalking record.

The mayor also took a different tack too as far as enforcing the seatbelt law is concerned. He thinks that with the way the police has been enforcing the law, which he thinks is rather selectively, it may be better not to enforce the law at all.

The leeway Duterte was willing to give these particular offenders is rather surprising given his sternness against people violating his policies and the law.

Last year, the mayor implemented the waste-segregation project, which aimed to inculcate in Davaoenos the practice of segregating biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste.

This is a continuing program where the mayor himself has been caught issuing warnings many times for the violators. Even a Grade Six pupil in yesterday’s program, who asked him about the penalty for littering, got a taste of the mayor’s harshness. “If I catch you, you will surely get a whipping, five times,” the mayor said.

But the mayor’s soft stance on traffic violators may have something to do with the fact that Davao folks are still adjusting to the new traffic system introduced to the city two months ago.

The system was reported initially to have caused more traffic jams than the old system, forcing Duterte to apologize for the disorderly outcome of the first test run in December. The 143-million pesos traffic system is among the mayor’s major projects. (Cheryll D. Fiel/davaotoday.com)

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