The Puerto Princesa City Police Office (PPCPO) on Tuesday called on operators of rent-a-car businesses to require driver’s license and implement test drives on foreign clients before leasing their vehicles.
This, after a series of accidents involving motorcycles driven by foreign tourists in Puerto Princesa went viral on social media.
Police Chief Master Sergeant Emmanuel De Asis, senior executive senior police officer/investigation police noncommissioned officer of PPCPO Station 1, told Palawan News that they received reports of two road accidents involving foreign nationals just the middle of this month.
“Ang sa atin naman, nananawagan tayo sa mga may-ari ng mga nagpapa-rent [ng mga sasakyan] na kung puwede ay ipa-test drive muna nila ang mga driver na nag-re-rent sa kanila, then hanapan nila ng license, ng international license, kasi assurance ‘yon na kung may license siya internationally sa kanilang lugar ay papasa din siya sa pagda-drive dito. Hindi ‘yong pinapayagan nila kahit walang lisensya [at] magpapa-rent sila, ‘pag may nangyari na problema na ng pulis. Minsan ang hinihingi lang nila ay ‘yong mga passport lang iniiwan doon pero iba pa rin na at least meron silang control doon sa tao para ma-prevent ‘yong mga disgrasya,” De Asis said.
He said businessmen should prioritize the safety of their clients over profit.
“Minsan nagda-drive ‘yong mga foreign nationals nang walang damit, walang helmet, minsan diyan ‘yong iba sa kanila nakainom, tipsy. Ang iba medyo antok galing pa sa biyahe pero dahil gusto nila ng adventure and then hinahabol kasi nila ‘yong time nila na dito sila kasi paalis na sila kinabukasan. Talagang kahit kaunting oras lang magliliwaliw sila diyan kahit antok at kahit pagod na pagod, nakakaidlip, natutumba. ‘Yong iba naman bagong aral lang ng motor,” he said.
De Asis also said that tourist guides should brief their clients on the traffic and road policies in the city.
Another factor in these accidents, he said, is the language barrier because some of the foreigners cannot also read road signs even if they are written in English.
De Asis added that there is also the difference between the traffic regulations in the Philippines and the foreigners’ home countries.
On May 11, police records showed that a 31-year old Dutch national identified as Benjamin Kerter was driving a motorcycle owned by one Fernando Mozo.
Kerter accidentally hit another motorcycle, along the North National Highway in Barangay San Jose driven by Richardson Go and a passenger named Marille Joy Go.
Both the motorcycle incurred damages, while Go and his passenger sustained physical injuries and were rushed to the hospital.
The police also recorded another accident involving Chinese nationals on May 18.
A tourist van with plate number VAA 1143 carrying 13 Chinese passengers tilted on its side along Kilometer 42 in Purok Nasidoc, Barangay Manalo.
The Chinese nationals were identified as Yang Xinjian, Lei Lei, Liu Yuangang, Fang Yubing, Xia Lingxia, Chen Xiaona, Lin Yanqing, Lin Xiaohong, He Yinming, Luo Jun, Lin Guozhan, and Liu Yuangfang.
De Asis pointed out that the number of road accidents involving foreign nationals is not being treated with enough concern by the travel agencies and motorbike rental businesses.
“Siguro hindi naman puro sa kanila [na mga foreign nationals] ang fault, baka meron namang fault sa ating mga drivers dito kasi hindi ‘yan maiiwasan kahit saan naman merony kulang sa disiplina na mga drivers, [o] nagkataon lang,” De Asis said.