“It’s time to put an end to road ragers getting away with their reckless and dangerous behavior”
Two recent incidents of road rage have sparked public indignation over the seemingly limited ability of the law to address and penalize such cases.
Both cases featured guns being drawn and pointed, with what may be perceived as the clear intent to scare off, threaten, and intimidate.
The first incident involved a cyclist and an ex-cop who has shown a pattern of similar behavior in the past.
The latter’s bluster and former’s cowed demeanor after threats were made enraged many in the biking community and the general public, who saw this as a perpetuation of the perceived police penchant for violence, and the impunity shown by such persons.
No less than celebrity lawyer Raymond Fortun, himself an avid cyclist, came to fore to bring justice to the case. Even the Senate got involved and held a hearing on the matter.
This high-profile investigation brought to light another road rage incident that also occurred last month.
In this one, a motorist brandished his pistol at a cab driver in Valenzuela City.
Both road rage cases were caught on videotape. The videos went viral on social media.
After the incident involving the cyclist, an anti-road rage bill was filed in the Lower House by Reps. Erwin Tulfo, Jocelyn Tulfo, Ralph Tulfo, Edvic Yap, and Eric Yap. House Bill 8991, An Act Penalizing Acts of Road Rage and for Other Purposes, seeks to establish a policy to “protect all road users from all acts of road rage that not only cause unwarranted road obstruction but physical harm and even death in extreme cases.”
This is not the first time such a law has been proposed.
In HB 5759 or the Anti-Road Rage Act of 2019, Rep. Florida Robes argued for strict penalties including a P250,000 fine and imprisonment against drivers who act in an “aggressive, hostile, or violent” manner on the road or in traffic.
There have been countless road rage incidents that have gone unrecorded and unpunished.
Many of us, whether driver or passenger, will have such stories to tell.
Here’s mine: Some years ago, my daughters and I were in a cab on the way to church at UP Campus.
We were in the tunnel from Quezon Boulevard that passes under EDSA and our cab was behind a large white SUV that was hogging the center of the road.
Our driver tried to pass on the left, but the driver of the SUV stuck his hand holding a gun out the window.
It was a clear threat to us to stay away. We immediately dropped back.
It’s time that such hostile and anti-social behavior, rooted in entitlement, excess, and a sense of untouchability, is penalized.
Extreme cases of road rage have ended in death and tragedy.
In 1991, businessman Rolito Go shot dead college student Eldon Maguan.
In 2009, former U.S. army soldier Jason Ivler shot Renato Ebarle Jr. In 2016, former Army reservist Vhon Tanto shot and killed Mark Vincent Garalde, a cyclist.
How much longer before the law gets tougher on motorists who can’t keep calm under stress?
How many more people have to suffer threats and intimidation from people who feel entitled because they have a gun ‘sukbitized’ in their belt?
With today’s advanced video technology, such incidents are being filmed.
Perpetrators may try to intimidate bloggers who’ve shared such videos into taking them down, but once it’s on the internet, it’s immortalized.
Road ragers trying to talk their way out of it will see their fabrications shrivel in the glaring light of video evidence.
As a consequence of these incidents, Atty. Fortun has asked the Supreme Court to “consider the court’s proper appreciation and admission of video evidence of a crime, even from anonymous sources.”
He added such would “insulate citizens with cellphone cams and dashcams from having to disclose themselves and expose themselves to retribution or threats.
“Our prosecutors should not be hampered by the absence of witnesses to get convictions for crimes caught in digital recordings.”
Fortun asked the highest court in the land to “consider the passage of a new Rule of Procedure or, in the alternative, an amendment/s of our current Rules on Electronic Evidence, so that our courts would favorably consider the appreciation and admission of video recordings coming from mobile phones, dashcams, and CCTV footages obtained from anonymous sources.”
He cited Singapore as an example. Their law enforcement has a website that allows citizens to anonymously provide information about crimes by uploading photographs and videos.
Confidentiality is preserved, encouraging civic engagement.
The era of social media and viral videos has brought about a paradigm shift in the way we document and address crimes.
The power of recorded evidence transcends mere words and negates lies, and it has the potential to reshape the landscape of justice in the Philippines.
Atty. Fortun’s appeal to the Supreme Court is a significant step towards modernizing our legal system, fostering transparency, and empowering ordinary citizens as vigilant guardians of truth and accountability.
This will not only strengthen our legal framework but also reaffirm our commitment to a just and transparent society where the truth cannot be concealed, no matter how hard one may intimidate or threaten.
It’s time to put an end to road ragers getting away with their reckless and dangerous behavior.
* * * FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO / Email: [email protected]