THE good news is that the Philippine National Police (PNP) may soon have radar speed guns and other computerized devices and gadgets, all worth P330 million. These are technologically advanced tools that will help the police in apprehending drivers who exceed the speed limit, as well as those who drive while drunk or under the influence of alcohol.
Gen. Archie F. Gamboa, chief of the PNP, has said that President Duterte has given the go-ahead to purchase the radar speed guns in order to address the growing number of road accidents in the country.
Speaking of road safety in the Philippines, there have been different numbers from statistics as to fatalities in car crashes. What is sure is that the road traffic deaths continue to rise, as indicated by data from the World Health Organization which estimated that death toll at 12,690 deaths in 2016. The WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety in 2018 also highlights that road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5 to 29 years old around the world.
The same report shows an increasing trend in road traffic deaths in the Philippines. The local data show that approximately half of these deaths are among vulnerable road users — motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists. Aside from deaths, there have been mounting cases of injuries and disabilities among road users due to road crashes. Road traffic injuries costs around 2.6 percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product.
The proliferation of low-cost motorcycles and the continuing gridlock in vehicular traffic in Metro Manila are also dual contributors to the problems of road safety, given the lack of respect for traffic rules, especially by motorcycle riders. Also, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has imposed a 60-kilometer per hour speed limit in all circumferential and radial roads and the success of this policy can only be ascertained if the authorities are able to implement the required speed limit well.
Considering these scenarios, the need for radar speed guns for traffic policemen has become imperative. As far as we can recall, the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government still holds the authority to do the procurement for the PNP. And so even if there is a felt need for these speed guns, the police will have to wait awhile for the procurement process to start and roll.
It was President Duterte who earlier decided to remove the authority to purchase from the PNP chief and transfer it to the DILG secretary. The President had been miffed by the perceived practice of overpricing in the PNP that he decided on that policy. This was before he appointed Gamboa to the permanent position of PNP chief.
The matter of buying radar speed guns elicited some acerbic comments from Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief and now a senator. Lacson said the greed of some police officials has evolved to ultra-greed as he expressed support to Duterte’s decision removing the procurement power of the PNP amid the potential of overpricing.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, said: “Nag-improve ang greed? Nag-evolve na ang greed sa ultra-greed. Kailangan ma-determine ni Interior Secretary (Eduardo) Año ang timeframe na nire-refer ng Pangulo sa overpricing na sobra-sobra. Hindi lang heads should roll. Some people should really go to jail.”
Lacson thinks the Chief Executive has reason to get miffed because he has been extra generous to the police organization when it comes to salary increases, upgrading of equipment, allowances, benefits, incentives and other support.
A well compensated police force should render the best service to the Filipino people, and their first order of business should be to shun corruption.