It is exciting to see that Bacolod City has mustered the will to crack down on illegal parking with tire clamps and towing, albeit on a limited scale, only on selected streets.
Of course, we can’t really expect them to go all out, right out of the gate, because after all, most of us never even thought it would be possible in the first place, if we are going to be honest. However, the mere fact that the city is exerting an effort should already be applauded as a good step in the right direction.
It will be interesting to see how consistently the city, or its private contractor, will be able to prosecute this campaign, which will hinge upon the clarity of the rules and consistency in the implementation, if the pilot run is to be successful.
Hopefully, the rules on the when, where, and hows of illegal parking are clearly laid out, so there is no confusion during implementation, as the lack of clarity in laying down the rules, old or new, can quickly derail any initiative, because as soon as those affected are inconvenienced, any inconsistency will be lumped together with accusations of corruption, as they usually go hand in hand. That is the sort of resistance implementers should anticipate as they embark on the long overdue enforcement of a common sense ordinance for any urban center that wants to see itself as among the better ones in the country.
If you come to think of it, having gone through the announcement of the clamping and towing measures, unless motorists have it printed out and hung from their sun shades for quick reference, it is quite difficult to fully understand where and when exactly the rules will be implemented during its trial run. I haven’t been to the affected area and tried parking there, but aside from the announcement, there should be signs and markings clearly stating where and when parking is either legal or illegal.
In a city that has tolerated and ignored illegal parking for so long, a social media post or a one-time press release shouldn’t count as the official announcement of any crackdown against illegal parking. Unless the city officials make a blanket declaration that on-street parking is hereby illegal unless otherwise indicated, signs and markings have to be installed in the areas selected for initial implementation.
That is important because if this well-meaning initiative is not implemented properly, the chances of it being derailed by accusations of corruption and incompetence are going to be pretty big, especially with such a spoiled, entitled, and largely ignorant motorist population who have been used to getting away with pretty much anything they want to do so far.
If the signs and markings are already there, then implementation should be easy peasy. All the enforcement team has to do is clamp and tow the offenders parked in the areas designated as no parking. They will have to deal with documentation and protect themselves from being sued by overly sensitive car owners who will want to turn the tables on them by accusing them of mishandling and damaging their prized but illegally parked possessions, but as long as the everything is clear, we should finally be able to see the start of a regime when people finally understand what illegal parking means.
In an ideal world, if the pilot testing area is successful, the implementation and enforcement should expand to the entire city, which means that motorists can no longer park anywhere they please. That will be tough, especially for those who have designed their lives around the concept that parking anywhere is a right, but it is something that has to be done if there is going to be any of the order and discipline that we say we want but very often don’t want it done to us, only to others.
As it cracks down on illegally parked vehicles on the street, the enforcement team also has to deny the practice that a lot of Filipinos think is a loophole that can be easily exploited – which is to illegally park on sidewalks instead. It blows the mind how people can think it is a viable loophole when it is actually even more inconsiderate, disrespectful, and yes, illegal, to park on the sidewalk. But if you come to think of it, that is how the Filipino motorist’s brain works, and that is part of the mentality that city officials and urban planners will have to break if they are serious about establishing discipline and finding a cure for the chaos that rules our streets.
It’s going to be inconvenient to discover that the usual parking spots in the affected areas are no longer available, but if you come to think of it, we have been spoiled by the lack of enforcement and discipline for far too long. I am hoping that the LGU can keep up this initiative despite the drawbacks, growing pains, criticism, resistance, and complaints from all sides – from the motorists to the residents and businessmen who somehow believe that they have the right to occupy public property which was never theirs in the first place.
Best of luck to the City of Bacolod and the people trying to enforce this old law.*