Road rage boils down to pride and guns in the car

Googling, it seems that most perpetrators in road rage cases in the Philippines are in power and have guns in the car.

 

IT was 3 in the morning when I arrived at her humble house in Antipolo, Rizal province.

It did not took me long to knock at her door. Elma Fernando, 41, opened it and silently welcomed me. Her eyes were red and puffy as if she had cried all night, and I could still sense that she was about to break out as soon as I start asking her questions. And she did.

“My husband was pleading. He was willing to pay whatever the damage was,” she recounted in tears. “But he wasn’t listened to. He was just shot to dead.”

Her grief and rage as she narrated how her hapless husband was killed woke up her three young children, ages nine, 10 and 13. They looked innocent, full of wide questions as they watched the interview – one was, perhaps, whatever happened to their father.

Petronilo Fernando, a 42-year-old passenger jeepney driver, was fired thrice in an apparent road rage incident on Marcos Highway at about 5 p.m. of May 1, a report from Antipolo City police disclosed.

(Read: EXCL: Jeepney driver, patay sa pamamaril ng pulis dahil sa away-trapiko)

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Marcos Highway in Antipolo City

The suspect was a law enforcer no less – PO2 Ronald Pentacasi of Manila Police District station 3, who was then riding a motorcycle.

“While the jeepney driver was heading toward Peñafrancia, he accidentally sideswiped the single motor that caused its rider to fell. Then, the rider confronted the jeepney driver straightaway,” said Mario Galisim, public safety officer of Cupang village, who responded to the incident.

“When the victim realized that their argument was causing traffic, he asked the suspect that they talk at Catalina Street. Upon reaching, as the jeepney driver was walking toward the motorcycle rider, the latter pulled his handgun and shot the victim,” he continued.

The police report said that Mr. Fernando died on the spot.  A bystander child was also hit by a stray bullet and sustained a “non-life threatening” wound.

PO2 Pentacasi fled.

“The pain is excruciating,” Mrs. Fernando lamented. “He was a good man. I’m seeking justice for him.”

How to raise her small offspring is now an agonizing thought for the 41-year-old widow.

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Petronilo Fernando (in blue shirt) with his family

While there was no statistical data of road rage incidents in the Philippines, Mrs. Fernado and her three children were certainly not the first family who lost a loved one in a violent traffic argument.

From news stories of these incidents, though, it appeared that most suspects in road rage cases in the country were in power and had guns in their vehicle.

One high-profile and sensational case in the Philippines was the killing of construction magnate Rolito Go to 25-year-old engineering student Eldon Maguan in San Juan City in 1991.

A study published by Automobile Association, Group Public Policy and Road Safety Unit, defined road rage as a driver’s display of extreme aggression that results to violence.

It added that road rage, like any other forms of anger, often seems to be caused by the driver’s frustration.

Gus Lagman, president of Automobile Association of the Philippine, said the driver’s sense of entitlement could be one of the contributing factors why arguments ensue on the road.

“Sometimes, drivers are territorial. We don’t know how to give,” he said. “I think a lot of drivers on the road do not completely know how to drive and doesn’t have road courtesy.”

Psychologist Camille Garcia posited that road rage comes from drivers who have power-trip issues. They are those who take advantage on others because they feel that they know better and they will not allow other people to outweigh them, she said.

The expert also explained that violent behavior may be due to intense anger, in that a person will feel anxious if it will not be released. A “displaced anger” is then possible.

“There are some people who are really considered hotheaded. Possible concerns are issues at home or work,” she said. “If a person is unable to compartmentalize the problems, there are tendencies that this person will explode.”

Lagman called on government to strictly regulate the carrying of firearms especially in vehicles as most fatal road rage incidents involved a gun – whether a motorist brandished a gun or fired one at someone.

“If you are hotheaded, better not to bring your gun in your car,” Lagman said, adding that the country’s worsening traffic condition would really test one’s limits.

For safety driving, Garcia advised motorists to leave “extra baggage” at home and compartmentalize problems.

“Focus on driving. If you are angry, do not drive. If you are confused and had a meltdown, never consider going home and drive on your own,” she said.

“There are bad days but never do a bad driving.”

 

Update: P02 Pentacasi has surrendered to police. Trial on his case is still ongoing.

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