Accidents, and law enforcement, do not take holiday breaks
posted 10-Apr-2018  ·  
1,370 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Two incidents in the capital town of Virac in the past week deserve some thought from readers, especially persons in authority whose sworn duty is to uphold the law and citizens who are supposed to follow it.

A netizen vented his scorn on face book against the local police who were conducting a checkpoint in enforcement of traffic rules and regulations on Holy Wednesday (March 28), particularly against driving a motorcycle without license or safety helmet.

“Hanot nyo sir semana santa na dakop man siempre kamo?” he quoted himself as saying to the Police Officer 1 manning the traffic stop.

“Lalo nasupog su patal na PO1,” the facebook user said in his rant. “Bako nman na hayohayo ang gibo msydo stricto bako paman tabi kitang syudad pra mag alog kmo kaan kahigpit, lalo na su mga hambugon na pulis.”

Two days earlier, a 17-year old student of Pandan School of Arts and Trades (PSAT) drowned in the diving board area of Twin Rock beach resort where he and two other friends were swimming at about 3 P.M.. Investigation showed that the victim, who did not know how to swim, was swept by the strong current to the deep portion of the sea.

One of his friends tried to save him but had to untangle himself and swim to shore after the victim held on so tightly that the would-be rescuer almost drowned. Two resort goers later dived underwater and retrieved the body.

By the time the victim was brought to shore, according to witnesses, he was already unresponsive despite efforts by a resort employee to revive him. The resort is about 10 to 15 minutes away from the poblacion, quite a long time if one it is to save a drowning man whose life is already measured in a few minutes the moment he goes underwater.

There was no lifeguard on duty at the resort, where a sign advised visitors to swim at their own risk. The same sign could probably be found in the other resorts and swimming facilities in the island which, according to a member of a rescue team, have yet to hire a certified lifeguard to ensure the safety of the public.

What is galling is that all of these resorts and water recreation facilities, frequented by the paying public especially these summer months, are violating the provisions of Provincial Ordinance No. 004-2016, which requires all pool or resort owners operating in Catanduanes to employ certified lifeguards and lifeguarding equipment in their operation.

As pointed out by a police officer, the traffic policemen were only doing their job of safeguarding the public from untoward incidents or, in the case of hard-headed motorists who flaunt the helmet law, from harming themselves.

The netizen who called the unnamed PO1 and his companions “patal” and “hambugon” should have thanked them instead for keeping him and other motorists safe. Taxpayers who are spending for the recently-increased salaries of these police officers would be shortchanged if the law enforcers would take a break from their duties just because it is a holiday. On the other hand, beach and river resorts, as well as hotels with swimming pools, should have realized that their decision not to hire a lifeguard to save on costs would backfire on them in the long run, even if the local government units are not serious in enforcing the ordinance.

Just as death can come at any time, accidents does not respect the day of week or the hours of the day. Nor does the negligence of local officials give anyone, especially resorts and other business establishments, carte blanche to violate the law with impunity.

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