1:58 am PHT

So as I was driving home from work along EDSA Extension in Pasay early this night, I switched lanes from the one that goes into a U-turn slot to the straight-ahead route. (See the location in Google Maps.) Immediately after, I was pulled over by one of the Pasay City traffic enforcers that were manning the U-turn slot. He charged me with committing swerving. I protested calmly but vehemently saying that what I did was not swerving. I have read before that there’s really no such violation as swerving (a real related violation is reckless driving, but I wasn’t at all reckless) so I was prepared to fight it.

I gave him my driver’s license when the enforcer asked for it. He took a really good look at it before again saying that what I did was wrong and that I should’ve switched lanes 15 meters before the U-turn slot. I questioned whether there were any lane markings indicating such and all I remember seeing were broken white lines which means vehicles can cross, as long as they do it safely. He still insisted that I had a violation and so I demanded that he just issue me a ticket to end the conversation. Opening his ticket booklet, he declared that I will be charged with violating lane markings and showed me the name of the violation on the booklet manual. So it was no longer swerving and not anymore switching-lanes-too-close-to-the-U-turn-slot violation.

In exasperation, I stepped out of the car and walked back to the U-turn slot to see for myself the lane markings that I was supposedly violating. Lo and behold! There were no lane markings at all and only faint traces of broken white lines that were now mostly erased remain. I complained to the enforcer that he cannot charge me with violating lane markings that were not even there. He only offered in defense, “nabura na kasi eh.” ("It got erased.”) I gave him a piece of my mind about how it was not my fault that the lane markings were erased.

Maybe realizing that I will continue to question him, he conceded defeat by handing me back my license. Maybe seeing that I am a Villar living in Las Piñas City (though I have no relations with the Speaker) also helped convince him that he can’t really charge me. (I never claim that the good senator is a relative, but I always leave the implication on the table.) Having my license back, I got into the car and continued my commute home. My really good mood at listening to good music while driving was irreparably damaged by this incident.

Before you pile on the enforcer, I won’t say that he was extracting lagay (bribe) since he did not ask for anything and did not go into the spiel of how inconvenient it is to settle the violation. Maybe I did commit some traffic violation in whatever ordinance the councilors of Pasay legislated. But really, if I did do something wrong, why did he give up that easily? It was dinner time and they were probably hungry, so speculation remains, of course.

Moral of the story? Stay far, far away from U-turn slots, unless you’re going to make a U-turn.  :)

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