Getting away with it

I was driving home my friend at almost midnight when a taxi from the right lane swerved in front of me to make a left turn. As I instinctively pressed the brakes, I noticed that a motorcycle driver was speeding on the left lane and would most likely hit the swerving taxi. I held my breath as I feared for a collision.

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This was first posted on July 23, 2007, 8:23 PM as “Getting away with it” on lalarimando.multiply.com.

What a night. After attending a great wedding yesterday, I was driving home my friend at almost midnight when a taxi from the right lane swerved in front of me to make a left turn. As I instinctively pressed the brakes, I noticed from my left side that a motorcycle driver was speeding on the left lane and would most likely hit the swerving taxi. I held my breath as I feared for a collision.

The motorcycle driver manoeuvred and missed the taxi’s front bumper by an inch. But that effort outbalanced him. Metal screeched as his motorcycle hit the concrete– on the opposite lane. People in the area gasped as an approaching car hit the brakes so hard as to not run over the motorcycle driver already slumped on the ground.

The motorcycle driver turned out to be a delivery man dispatched to bring pizza orders to clients in their homes. He stood up, visibly shaken, turning left and right while looking for some missing items like his helmet. He was limping as he tried to make it to the pizza store just a stone’s throw away.

On the other hand, the taxi driver, frowning for whatever reason, returned to his cab. Then he started his engine, and out of the blue, he sped away! The security guards of the nearby stores tried to catch up with him, banging on his taxi. While the taxi driver could have easily left the scene since the guards were on foot anyway, what he did not anticipate is the presence of a police patrol car in the vicinity of the accident and who caught up with him right there and then.

And there we were, my friend and I, at the front seat of a seemingly movie drama show, unravelling right before our very eyes. The policemen aimed their gun on the taxi driver, made him come out of the car, commanded him to lie on the ground, then handcuffed him.

It was over in less than 10 minutes.

As we continued our drive, my friend and I analyzed the scene over and over again. Who’s fault is it? Why was the motorcycle driver on the left lane, when two-wheel drivers should be taking the rightmost lane? How bad could the injury of the motorcycle driver be? But what we couldn’t get over is the nerve of the taxi driver to actually think he could just leave the accident scene, despite the number of witnesses, and perhaps continue to consider this as just another evening at work.

Ah, we thought we know why. This is a country where those in the high positions in government and the wealthiest of businessmen don’t pay for their sins even if they were already caught in the act. In other countries, they hang their leaders who were proven to have benefited from illegal acts. In Korea and the US, white collar crimes are not spared. They put erring corporate executives to jail. No one goes scott-free. But that is not the case here. We flipped-flop on the death penalty law because the influential Catholic church said it is not the Christian thing to do. The Marcos cronies are coming back from obscurity and assuming plum posts in business and political circles (See my award-winning articles on the Romualdez family). Estrada, the second president besides Marcos who was booted out of power through peaceful but extra-judicial means of People Power, is set to be acquitted from corruption charges anytime soon. Many white elephant projects remain as testaments of bribery and corruption, but the proponents evaded the law. “Memories are short,” explains one of my sources before. Indeed, we easily forget wrongdoings as time passed by. As far as my memory serves, there were even no efforts to ask and give forgiveness.

So as we mull why the cab driver think leaving the accident site is an option, we thought perhaps because our system has made him believe that if the big guys could do it, so could he.

But with a gun on his head, perhaps he has easily realized that it’s an unfair world after all.

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