THE RECENT collision between two light rail trains should hopefully spur legislators to support a bill that would make it a criminal offense to use cellular phones while driving.
According to reports, an investigation of the incident showed that one of the operators was distracted by his cell phone—and was speeding, too. Fortunately, the trains were empty so nobody was injured.
I hope the trains were not so badly damaged to be out of commission for a while, considering the volume of passengers that take the Light and Metro Rail. I hope, too, that repair would not cost a lot.
Rep. Susan Yap of the second district of Tarlac cited statistics gathered by the Philippines Global Road Safety Partnership and the Philippine National Police that showed that, between 2008 and 2009, accidents resulting from the use of cell phones rose 601 percent, from 70-601.
Although Yap’s bill is just one of several that have been filed in Congress, hers imposes a higher penalty—P3,000-10,000 or imprisonment of at least one year. Other bills only set a fine of P500.
The efforts to curb the use of cell phones by drivers are certainly welcome. Let us just hope this does not provide traffic enforcers another “income-generating” activity.
The Cash Department of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas responded to a query by a reader about what the government is doing to ensure that commercial establishments give consumers their exact change.
Director Violeta F. Mejia, officer-in-charge of BSP’s currency management sub-sector, said the institution was taking every step to ensure establishments had enough supply of coins for change.
“For 2011, some 1.1 billion coins of various denominations would be minted for release to the banks on staggered basis to service the public requirements for coins. This will further augment the coins already in circulation which, as of 31 December 2010, is about 16.32 billion pieces, amounting to P18.21 billion. Of this total, 88 percent consists of lower-denominated coins.”
But, Mejia said, while the BSP distributes new coins every year to meet the requirements o the economy, demand remains unfilled in many parts of the country “because coins are not being re-circulated or used regularly by the public.”
They are, instead, kept in piggy banks, made into jewellery, or thrown away/discarded as an inconvenience.
“The low regard toward lower-denominated coins is one of the main reasons coins are not circulating efficiently,” she said.
Meanwhile, SM Retail Inc., through its president, Jorge T, Mendiola, said the supply of coins is never enough despite the efforts of BSP and commercial banks. In view of this, he said the company had launched programs like Palit-Barya, which encouraged the public to have their coins converted into paper bills at SM stores.
Mendiola said they had also partnered with various groups, including schools and churches, to collect coins. At the same time, he said, store frontliners like cashiers and checkers are being trained to handle situations better such that, if they are unable to give exact change, customers would not feel they had been taken advantage of.
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