DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Nov. 12, 2014— Leading up to the “World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims” on Nov. 16, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan blasts “corrupt workmanship” behind sub-standard roads and infrastructure that have claimed lives in freak accidents.
“Is it not a fact that many road-traffic victims lose life or limb because of ill-constructed roads and highways, the pathetic handiwork of corrupt workmanship? Have not many drivers fallen off cliffs, ridges and road shoulders, because of inadequate road signs, ill-lighted highways and the criminal absence of assistance that should come from government functionaries tasked with road safety?” he asks in a recent statement.
Driving with charity
Villegas stresses that the government should construct safe and reliable highways, rid of the “wages of corruption”, and that maintenance be regular, thorough and continuous.
According to the prelate, the United Nations event should not only be “a time of sentimental remembrance of all who perished on our highways,” but also of firm resolve that governments, motorists, and pedestrians all share in the responsibility of keeping roads safe.
The head of the Archdiocese of Lingayen – Dagupan also regrets that the Philippines seems to have “more enforcers looking out for traffic violators than ones on lonely stretches of highways, mountain passes, and dangerous road turns ready to render assistance to motorists in trouble”.
He also reminds pedestrians to exercise prudence when crossing highways, adding that help should be always available, especially to the elderly and the mentally impaired.
The prelate advises motorists to drive with that charity by which Christ’s disciples are to be distinguished, pleading with the public to see traffic-rules for what they are: recognition of the rights of others.
‘Lack of prudence’
Villegas notes how oad-traffic victims, whether motorists, unwary pedestrians, or simple bystanders, are often referred to as accident victims given that “accident” suggests an unfortunate confluence of events about which people are generally helpless.
“The truth of the matter though, is that most of the time, road-traffic victims suffer because of lack of prudence and a failure of simple providence, the egregious violation of traffic rules (such as those that limit driving speeds) and conduct that is not only criminally actionable but morally reprehensible, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” the prelate explains.
“If we ask God to make all things work for the well-being of those who use our highways, we also ask God to instil responsibility, prudence and above all charity on our all motorists, because motorists are, in fact, the biggest threat on the highways,” Villegas adds.
“If this be our resolve on this day of remembrance, then the words of the rite of blessing will indeed come true: ‘In every place stay close to your servants who trust in You, and wherever they go, be their leader and their companion,”” he says. (Raymond A. Sebastián)