UNLESS proven otherwise beyond reasonable doubt, the Feb. 28 evening murder of traffic enforcer Mark Langam of the Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA) will be perceived rightly or wrongly to the ongoing road clearing operations conducted by Cagayan de Oro City Hall.
One of the details that marked Langam’s murder and the December 2016 murder of another RTA traffic enforcer, Cris Cabingas, is too coincidental for any person to ignore; both murders occured right after road clearing operations conducted by City Hall’s Task Force Hapsay Dalan.
Let us be reminded that Mayor Oscar Moreno’s administration had conducted road clearing operations even before President Rodrigo Duterte issued his marching orders during last year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) for local governments across the country to conduct road clearing operations in their area of jurisdiction.
The President’s order was contained in a circular issued by the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) to all cities, towns and provinces in the country and all local governments are expected to comply with said circular and so far there had been mixed results.
It’s also useful to remember that the road clearing operations did not only affect stallholders and market vendors whose plight afterward is a source of political fodder and ammunition for aspiring and traditional politicians seeking public office in the City of Golden Friendship and elsewhere around the country.
That said, it would be certainly a cheap shot and political gimmick for any incumbent opposition official or critic to twist Langam’s murder into a political issue by saying or even insinuating that the road clearing operations is a failure by City Hall and should thus be challenged in court or worse, halted altogether.
I’ve received information that a group of tri-cab (tricycle cabs locally known as bao-bao) operators and drivers have voiced their opposition to the DILG circular banning their units along with traysikads (pedicabs) and tricycles from passing through the national highways both in court and online.
While they are understandably opposed to the circular owing to their livelihood, it remains to be seen if their position is also shared and supported by the riding public, most of whom also ride other public utility vehicles (PUVs) like passenger jeepneys whose operators are hit by direct competition from the bao-bao and traysikads.
The ban on tricycles, traysikads, motorelas and now tri-cabs enforced at the national highways had been in effect since two decades ago, in the early 90s in fact owing to the traffic congestion caused by their drivers who pick up and offload passengers even in the middle of the highway.
Just imagine rush hour traffic or even midday traffic in these highways being held up by these tri-cab, motorela, traysikad and tricycle drivers who take their own sweet time loading and uploading their passengers in the middle of the highway to the chagrin of motorists and even jeepney drivers and their passengers.
As per latest word I received, a suspect in Langam’s murder was supposedly caught during an anti-drug raid in Tagoloan town late last Wednesday evening (March 4) barely a week after the traffic enforcer was slain and I join the others in hoping that this is a breakthrough in the investigation into the incident.
This may be good news to Langam’s mother who tragically lost her husband last March 3, Tuesday due to cardiac arrest. She received a P30,000 cash assistance from City Hall while the 19th City Council agreed to each donate P5,000 from their representation and transportation allowance to Langam’s mother.
Both Mayor Moreno and Rep. Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy of Cagayan de Oro City’s first district issued separate statements condemning Langam’s murder and called for swift justice to be rendered to the Langam family. Despite Langam’s murder I join the others in hoping that the road clearing operations will not only be sustained but improved on.
Though the RTA is but one of several components to Task Force Hapsay Dalan, their role is still crucial and I appreciate Councilor Teodulfo ‘Bong’ Lao’s proposal that some of the RTA personnel who’ve shown exceptional performance be promoted to regular status if only to be assured of benefits for their family’s welfare.