Media personality Ben Tulfo of “Bitag” fame has chosen a side between Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic czar Edison Bong Nebrija and Riders’ Safety Advocates of the Philippines (RSAP) founder Bonifacio Bosita when it comes to the back-rider slippers controversy. Well, sort of.
In his program, Tulfo acknowledged the raging online debate between the followers of Nebrija and Bosita on the subject, and claimed that his own followers have been prodding him to comment of it.
“Ang sinasabi ng mga tao, ‘Anong masasabi mo dito, Boss Ben?’ Ako ang simpleng masasabi ko dito, ang pagbabasehan dyan ay yung batas. Respeto lang dito konti doon sa mga nagpapatupad ng batas (The people have been saying, ‘What can you say about this, Bpss Ben?’ My simple take on this is, the basis should be the law. Let’s give some respect to those who are enforcing the law),” he said.
The tit-for-tat between Nebrija and Bosita–two personalities with huge social media followings–began a month ago after an MMDA traffic enforcer apprehended and ticketed a motorcycle-riding couple. The alleged offense? The female back-rider wore slippers instead of shoes, which was supposedly a no-no under Land Transportation Office-Administrative Order (LTO-AO) No. AHS-2008-015.
“Ano ba ang tama rito, sino ang tama? Kung sino yung sumusunod sa batas! Ako ho rito, kung titignan, tama ho si Nebrija (So what is right here, who is right? The person who follows the law! For me, as I see it, Nebrija is right),” Tulfo said.
However, the popular media man quickly clarified that he didn’t say Bosita was wrong. He even accepted as true the common position of RSAP members–and motorists in general–that there “abusive, crazy, disrespectful, and mulcting” enforcers out there.
Despite this, the tough-talking Tulfo echoed the MMDA traffic disciplinarian by asking riders to “follow what the law says.”
He then directed the following remarks to Bosita, a retired Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) colonel.
“Huwag nating iinterpreta ang batas. Col. Bosita nakikinig ka ba? Hindi kita pinangangaralan kaya lang para sa akin, baka kasi, alam kong pinangangalagaan mo mga followers mo, at ang mga followers mo naman importante awatin mo. ‘Wag magwala (Let’s not interpret the law. Are you listening, Col. Bosita? This is not a lecture, but for me, it’s important that you restrain your followers, whom I know you look after. Don’t be unruly),” he said.
In a viral video, Bosita confronted the MMDA enforcer along EDSA and told him to pay the female back-rider P500, which was supposedly the salary she lost that day as a result of the wrongful apprehension.
And pay the woman the enforcer did. Bosita’s meddling irked Nebrija, saying it skirted due process and was tantamount to “usurpation of authority”.
“Ang lagay, parang above the law ka (I appears like you’re above the law). The law applies to all, or none at all,” Tulfo said of Bosita.
Mr. Bitag wrapped up his segment by stressing that “mutual respect and admiration” are important in order to avoid quarrel between the two camps.
“Ako naman taga-tabla lang ako, magsasabi ng katotohanan. Wala akong paki-alam kung sino magagalit sa inyo. Nakialam na ako? Hindi. Nagsasalita lang ako para maging malinaw (I’m the person in the middle who would only tell the truth. I don’t care if any of you get mad. Am I meddling? No. I only spoke out for sake of clarity).”
But wait, there’s more.
After hearing Tulfo’s comments, Bosita wrote a post on the RSAP Facebook page shortly before midnight Thursday, April 1 and questioned the extent of the former’s knowledge when it comes to the context of the slippers issue.
“Hindi ko alam kung napanood mo ang aking video, kung nabasa mo ang Administrative Order Nr. AHS-2008-015, at kung may alam ka sa dinadanas ng mga ordinaryong motorista (I don’t know if you’ve seen my video, or if you have read Administrative Order Nr. AHS-2008-015, or if you know anything about the plight of ordinary motorists),” Bosita said.
“Kung hindi mo napanood ang aking video at hindi mo alam ang aking mga nabanggit, maglalabas ako ng pahayag patungkol sa mga ito bilang tugon sa pahayag mo (If you haven’t watched my video and are unaware of my utterances there, then I will issue a statement in response to your remarks),” he added. (Ellson A. Quismorio)