Last April 14, we posted a video on our Facebook page, showing an Isuzu campaign truck of the Buhay party list going against the flow of traffic in Manila. If you read the comments on the video, there is debate on whether the street is one-way or temporarily two-way because of a road construction in the area.
Anyway, Buhay information officer Eric Cham reached out to us and sent us the following statement (in italics):
We do not and will never tolerate any reckless and irresponsible behavior on the part of our drivers.
The video submitted by Ralph Reyes to Top Gear Philippines shows our truck going against what seems to be the normal flow of traffic. But what isn’t clearly seen in the video is that since one-half of the road is under construction and closed to traffic, the open half is being used to accommodate two-way traffic.
In this situation, vehicles going toward Chinese General Hospital have been utilizing the right side of the road, while vehicles going to La Loma are allowed to use the left lane. Which is why our vehicle, which was going toward La Loma, was on the left side of the road.
Our driver is seen giving way to those who are already in the left lane, but the person taking the video would not pass and still insisted on staying in the left lane. Uploading just that particular portion of the video unfairly puts our driver in a bad light.
Cham also gave us a pair of short videos to prove his point. The screenshots are below.
Now, we don't wish to split hairs over the legitimacy of the "two-way" argument. What we've learned so far from reading people's comments on our page is that the road is really one-way but is often made two-way by traffic officers (or mere bystanders, whatever) to ease the flow of traffic. And this is where it gets tricky--and what, we suppose, needs more attention.
Our authorities are fond of introducing whimsical traffic-management hacks that they don't consistently implement or supervise, leading to confusing incidents such as the one documented in the viral video. Yes, the Buhay party list driver may have had a valid reason to go against the normal direction of traffic, but the person who took the video most likely believed he was in the right, especially if he wasn't familiar with the area.
Two things we'd like to call attention to (and these are addressed to the powers-that-be):
1. If you're implementing temporary traffic rules, make sure there are traffic officers manning the area or at least visible traffic signs informing everyone. In the absence of either one, we believe the rule of thumb is that the regular traffic rule applies--which, in this case, is the road being one-way. The fact people can't agree as to whether the road is currently one-way or two-way proves the kind of confusion that arises when you're doing a poor job managing the traffic.
2. Perhaps most crucially, what the heck is that effing road construction taking forever for? We understand (also from the comments) that this road project has been going on for years. Hello, DPWH or local government (whatever the case may be)? Any plans to finish this dubious road repair so motorists in the area can go back to the normal way of things--and so that traffic disputes like what we have now do not happen?
So, okay, let's cut the Buhay party list driver some (or a lot of) slack in this case. But please, let's also exercise common sense when driving.
NOTE: The area in question is near Chinese General Hospital.
Top screenshots from video of Ralph Reyes; bottom screenshots from videos of Eric Cham