‘Pu­trageeze!’

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - OPINION - CIELITO F. HABITO [email protected]

On read­ing my last col­umn about the Land Trans­porta­tion Of­fice’s his­tor­i­cal propen­sity for putting hur­dles in our way, for­mer agri­cul­ture un­der­sec­re­tary Resty Col­lado wrote in about his own story. “I un­der­went the same rig­ma­role when I re­newed my driver’s li­cense not long ago. As I en­tered the clinic, I told the at­ten­dant (not a doc­tor, mind you) that there was no need for me to read the eye chart, as I had al­ready mem­o­rized it. She be­lieved me. I did no read­ing, but I was still made to pay.”

Reader Noel Ag­caoili chimed in from Canada to af­firm my ob­ser­va­tion that we are un­usual in re­quir­ing a med­i­cal clear­ance for all driv­ers ap­ply­ing for or re­new­ing their li­cense. “Here in Toronto a med­i­cal exam is not a re­quire­ment in re­new­ing a driver’s li­cense,” he wrote. “The clos­est thing they have are two sim­ple yes or no ques­tions: (1) Has an op­tometrist/doc­tor ever ad­vised you that you need cor­rec­tive lenses to drive? (2) Has a physi­cian ad­vised you that you suf­fer from any of the fol­low­ing: heart dis­ease, stroke, di­a­betes re­quir­ing in­sulin, epilepsy, etc.?” The fact that the Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties would take your word for it says a lot about honor and hon­esty in that so­ci­ety. That our own LTO wouldn’t trust us enough to fol­low Canada’s ex­am­ple sug­gests lack of honor and hon­esty in our own.

An­other off­shoot of this per­ceived lack is the all-too-of­ten re­quired no­ta­rized af­fi­davit to cer­tify when we’ve lost some­thing. When I mis­placed a check is­sued me by a pri­vate in­sti­tu­tion and re­quested for a re­place­ment, I was re­quired to pro­duce a no­ta­rized af­fi­davit of loss, even if they could eas­ily no­tify the bank to stop pay­ment on the check, which they needed to do any­way. Col­lado also wrote of a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence: “At the Calamba toll gate of the South Lu­zon Ex­press­way, the scan­ner wouldn’t read my RFID sticker. The toll­gate keeper asked for my ac­count card, but I couldn’t find it in my bag. I vol­un­teered the li­cense plate num­ber of my car (so she could look up my ac­count in their sys­tem). She said that wasn’t good enough. Luck­ily, I had with me the re­ceipt of my (pre­paid load) pur­chase the day be­fore. The next day, I stopped at a RFID satel­lite of­fice, ready with my P300 to pay for a re­place­ment card. They wouldn’t give me one. They said I need an af­fi­davit of loss. I asked if they had a form for it, and they gave me one. I filled it out, but still no dice. I must have it no­ta­rized first, they said. Pu­trageeze!!”

I could well imag­ine the steam com­ing out of his nose and ears, as I know the feel­ing, hav­ing been in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions be­fore. Can’t we Filipinos trust our­selves to be truth­ful, that ev­ery­thing has to be no­ta­rized?

Per­haps there’s nomore em­bar­rass­ing il­lus­tra­tion of the prob­lem than last week’s amus­ing news on the clo­sure of the “Hon­esty Store” at the Manila Po­lice Dis­trict (MPD)—in­spired by the well-known Hon­esty Café in Batanes that is left unat­tended, re­ly­ing on the hon­esty of cus­tomers to leave the right pay­ment for what­ever goods they take. The MPD ver­sion even has a prom­i­nent sign that reads “Manila’s Finest are Hon­est.”

Sur­prise, sur­prise: It seems they are not (well, not all of them are). They closed it down as it was los­ing up to P1,000 a month. The gen­eral man­ager of the MPD Finest Broth­er­hood Co­op­er­a­tive was quoted as say­ing that “some buy­ers did not pay the cor­rect amount, while oth­ers were get­ting more than the ac­tual change due them.” She ven­tured on to say that “Hon­esty Store is not ap­pli­ca­ble in MPD, and for that mat­ter any­where, ex­cept in Batanes.”

Sad, but does this seem­ing lack of hon­esty, es­pe­cially in the very peo­ple ex­pected to up­hold that virtue, jus­tify those LTO-re­quired med­i­cal ex­ams and rig­or­ous re­quire­ments for ac­cred­i­ta­tion of clin­ics and doc­tors ad­min­is­ter­ing those ex­ams, then? I don’t be­lieve so. I did ar­gue that men­tal fit­ness is prob­a­bly the more prob­lem­atic at­tribute we should be train­ing and test­ing driv­ers for.

Some read­ers who wrote in were much too un­kind to the LTO, declar­ing that it is they who need a men­tal test. I don’t think they do. They, along with many oth­ers in and out of gov­ern­ment, just need to get out of the hur­dle mind­set that af­flicts too many among us.

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