THE contributed photo that came out on SunStar Cebu’s Saturday issue, Feb. 8, 2020, was taken right in front of my grandmother’s place on J. Urgello St. in Barangay Sambag 1, Cebu City on Friday morning, Feb. 7.
If you still haven’t seen it, it shows personnel of the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) clamping a vehicle that was parked on the newly concreted but still closed lane in front of a “no parking anytime” and towing and clamping sign.
No. I didn’t take the photo. But yes, I did go out and check what the commotion was all about.
I mean, I heard shouting and sirens, which, come to think of it, are pretty normal at any given time of the day in this part of the metro, but I also heard something else. Excitement.
So, of course I had to take a look. And what a sight it was.
Several CCTO vehicles of various make, flanking illegally parked vehicles, with CCTO personnel, including traffic enforcers, in vests with a black, neon apple green and reddish color combination, strutting on the street looking all important. Curious onlookers waiting to catch a glimpse of the vehicles’ owners as they frantically tried to save a trip to the CCTO office to pay the penalty of, I don’t know, more than P1,000.
Actually, I didn’t see the last part. I just assumed the owners would be frantically trying to prevent their cars or motorcycles from getting clamped or hauled away, respectively.
The CCTO, according to the SunStar Cebu report, had no choice but to strictly enforce City Ordinance (CO) 1657, or the Clamping Ordinance that “regulates parking on the streets,” to impose discipline among motorists.
CO 1657 authorizes traffic enforcers to issue citation tickets and clamp illegally parked vehicles. Although the SunStar Cebu report made no mention of the ordinance allowing traffic personnel to haul away illegally parked motorcycles, again, I just assumed that this was also authorized by the measure.
Alma Barandog-Casimero, CCTO chief, said most of the vehicles that were clamped and the drivers who were issued citation tickets were those that disregarded traffic signs.
I went out during the tail end of the operation so I actually missed all the drama, but what happened next after the CCTO personnel and vehicles left was more than surreal.
One half of J. Urgello St. was eerily empty, devoid of vehicles save for the ones that had been clamped. Yeah, like the one right across my grandmother’s place. But in less than half an hour, that all changed.
The closed-off portion of the street was again abuzz with activity. Trucks delivering water, softdrinks and whatnot soon lined what was strictly off limits just several minutes before. These were joined by private vehicles and motorcycles that blocked pedestrians’ path.
It was as if the clamping operation never happened at all.