Las on use of sirens

PNS — UNAUTHORIZED use of sirens or blinkers — Presidential Decree No. 96 (Declaring Unlawful the Use or Attachment of Sirens, Bells, Horns, Whistles or Similar Gadgets That Emit Exceptionally Loud or Startling sounds, Including Dome Lights and Other Signaling or Flashing Devices on Motor Vehicles and Providing Certain Exceptions Therefor) dated January 13, 1973 expressly declares that: “1. That it shall be unlawful for the owner or possessor of any motor vehicle to use or attach to his vehicle any siren, bell, horn, whistle, or other similar gadgets that produce exceptionally loud or startling sound, including domelights, blinkers and other similar signalling or flashing devices.

“2. The gadgets or devices mentioned above may be attached to and use only on motor vehicles designated for official use by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation, Land Transportation Office, police departments, fire departments, and hospital ambulances,” (emphasis supplied).

P.D. No. 96 directs that any devise or gadget violative of said law “shall be subject to immediate confiscation.” In case of a second or subsequent offenses, the offender “shall be prosecuted for violation of this decree” and “upon conviction x x x shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for six months and/ or fine of 600 pesos” and in addition, the certificate of registration of the motor vehicle on which the device or gadget is installed shall be cancelled or revoked.

Clearly, the unauthorized use of sirens or blinkers entail a criminal sanction. It follows therefore that any public officer who violates P.D. No. 96 may be held accountable for either grave or simple misconduct, depending on the circumstances. This administrative accountability is made more conspicuous by a presidential directive ordering “all government offices and agencies to strictly adhere to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 96 dated January 13, 1973.” See Administrative Order No. 122 (Directing All Government Offices To Strictly Comply with Presidential Decree No. 96 Declaring Unlawful the Indiscriminate Use of Sirens, Blinkers or Similar Devices) dated June 30, 2005.

R.A. No. 4136, otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, also provides that “(n)o horn or signaling device emitting exceptionally loud startling or disagreeable sound shall be installed on any motor vehicle.”

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Regulation No. 03-005, dated May 22, 2003, entitled ‘Banning the Installation of Loud/ power Horns, Horns of Varying Sounds, Sirens (Wangwang) and Other Similar Devices That Produce Exceptionally Loud or Startling Sound on All Types of Vehicles Traversing Along the Thoroughfares of Metro Manila’, practically reiterates P.D. No. 96 except that instead of mere confiscation the MMDA imposes “outright destruction of the prohibited device at the place of apprehension.” Inspite of the seeming vigorous words in our rules, the prohibition is hardly implemented. Like so many of our regulatory issuances, our government officials sometimes confuse words with accomplishment.

It is clear therefore that members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, councilors and city mayors, by themselves, are not authorized to use sirens no matter how late they may feel they are for their next meeting. The odd thing about this regulation is that while the use of sirens (and their variations) are repeatedly prohibited by various issuances, their sale and importation continues to be made openly and unregulated as an add-on car accessory. Since it is obvious that this prohibition is not being enforced vigorously, or not being enforced at all, the government would do well to instead restrict and regulate the importation and sale of such sirens.