Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Say No to “Wang Wang”

Posted by butalidnl on 4 July 2010

President Noynoy Aquino (aka PNoy) made an interesting statement in his inaugural speech, which was “Walang wang-wang, walang counterflow, walang tong” (no sirens, no counterflow, no police extortion). The part about the “wang wang” and counterflow, is about the abusive practice of public officials to use sirens when they are on the road. This is an abuse of public office. This practice should be stopped.

Let me point some more things about this “wang wang” campaign. The first thing is that the use of “wang wang” is a sign of corruption. Corruption, after all, is the use of public office for private gain. And, getting exempted from traffic through the use of wang wang is a very glaring demonstration of abuse of public office. Many officials use sirens to smooth their ride through traffic – just because they can. And nobody could safely ignore these sirens; who knows, maybe you’ll get roughed up or worse by that official’s bodyguards.

The call against “wang wang” is actually a first step in mobilizing the citizenry against corruption. I think that at this point, any politician with the gall to use his “wang wang” would face a public outcry. There will be blogs, letters to the editors, even videos posted in facebook about this. And the police will be forced to take drastic measures against the violator. This will prepare the citizenry to support further steps against corruption.

Wang Wang is Illegal
Unauthorized use of sirens is illegal. There is a law against this – PD 96 – and according to this law, the only ones authorized to use sirens are: “motor vehicles designated for official use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Commission, Police Departments, Fire Departments, and hospital ambulances”. Through the years, this law has been largely ignored by all kinds of public officials.

Because of the wang wang campaign, now everybody is aware that there is indeed a law against this.  This is sure to help in the campaign against corruption, since after all, corruption is illegal. And specific forms of it are subject to all kinds of laws. But the thing is, we need to be quite conscious of the illegality of something, to be able to stop doing it, and to stop others from doing it.

Not trivial
Some people may think this is a trivial issue. Perhaps, but it is something that irritates ordinary people to no end. So, this campaign (if you could call it that) is quite popular. The wang wang had become the symbol of the abuse of power by elected officials. It is appropriate to make it the first target to hit in the government drive against corruption and abuse of power.

While no congressman or other official will dare use their wang wang now, we don’t know what will happen a couple of months on. I expect that some will start to use it again, perhaps to test if they could get away with it.  And I hope that that official will face public defiance e.g. drivers who will not give way to that wang wang, or people booing that car, and taking pictures or even video of it. Only then can we say that the anti-wang wang campaign will have succeeded. And of course, the police should arrest or fine the wang wang user.

And finally, there is this video:

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