“In a snap, my car floated mid-air and my body slammed on my seatbelt. I felt my life flashing. Is this it?” Jose Margo Flores thought to himself as an L300 suddenly rammed his black Peugeot 508 Monday in Quezon City.
The collision happened at broad daylight—at around 1:30pm. He was out to do some errands and attend to something at work (according to his Facebook, he’s connected with an advertising agency called The Happy Three Friends), the reason why he was driving along V. Luna Extension in Quezon City that afternoon.
Flores says he would like to believe he’s a good driver. “I’m capable of driving from Metro Manila to Pagudpud and vice versa alone,” he shares in the Facebook post that tells of his heartbreaking, it not mind-numbing, ordeal. “I’ve also driven along hundreds of miles of long roads and high mountains in left-hand drive countries but never did I encounter a mishap. I know that I abide by the rules and I make sure everything is well before I take the wheel.”
But as Flores realized, accidents do happen—and sometimes, it’s not even out of one’s own doing.
Flores was driving his car calmly until he reached the intersection of V. Luna Ave. and Anonas St. in QC. He saw an accelerating L300 on his periphery, and that’s when he realized something terrible was going to take place. “I know I can’t do anything anymore but I braced myself for what was about to happen. It strongly crashed on my car, driver side. Blag! My car flew mid-air as I felt my door denting because of the impact.”
Everything happened so fast. “It’s like one of those scenes you see on TV—it’s something like when (HTGWM Spoiler!!) Annalise Keating’s car was hit by Frank. That’s exactly how it visually felt like,” Flores vividly recalls on his Facebook post.
For a moment, he thought it was the end of him, but he luckily lived to tell what he likes to call “a story of incompetence and injustice.”
What caused the crash?
Still in shock, Flores’ first reaction was to drive his wrecked car to the side of the road to prevent street traffic from building up.
He was trying to process what had just happened. “Is the driver of the other vehicle drunk? Is he sleepy? Are his brakes faulty?” he writes. “My body felt numb. I wasn’t sure if I got bruised or what but as a pragmatic person, I got off my car and checked the situation calmly.”
That’s when he realized his Peugeot 508, who he refers to as “Khaleesi,” is now a total wreck.
“My window is broken and I can’t close the door anymore. I imagine that if I was driving a different car, I might be writing this in a hospital right now (or I might not be writing anything at all),” he remembers.
Unsure of what had just transpired, he checked around and looked for the driver of the L300. “He’s telling me that I’m in the wrong. I was confused. How is that possible?” Flores thought to himself.
That’s when they found out that both their traffic lights are on green. “Yep, it’s a faulty traffic light intersection,” he confirmed.
Apparently, everyone in the area knows it’s broken, attests Flores. “The passersby, the motorcycle riders, the guard from the mall beside the intersection—they all know it’s a faulty traffic light. Even my friends who live in the area are aware of it. It’s been broken for months,” Flores points out.
Reporting the incident
With the other car’s driver, Flores went to the nearest police station to file an incident report, and it turns out everyone there, too, knows about the faulty traffic light.
“What I got is an affirmation that the traffic light is broken,” he recalls. “They’ve already reported it to the Mayor’s office at QC City Hall but no action has been made. I asked if this is the first time this has happened and nope, accidents were frequent in that area but the faulty traffic light is still on.”
But wait there’s more: “I’m not sure if it’s true but someone told me that the reason why it’s not fixed is that the supplier for its maintenance is not yet paid.”
The two men were eventually issued a police report with the next step as disposition—“meaning we should just settle it by ourselves,” notes Flores.
After securing the police report, the two went to the Barangay Hall which is just a few steps away from the faulty traffic light. They will secure CCTV footage. “They asked us what time was the accident and we said it was around 1:30 pm. It took them some time before they allowed us to look for it by ourselves because they were having a hard time looking for it,” Flores shares.
Flores noted that while the people in the hall were responsive and helpful, one was ranting like a mad man: “Hindi talaga namin makikita yan kung mali-mali yung oras na binibigay.”
At that point, Flores was already starting to feel his body aching from the impact. “I was dumbfounded. I just had an accident because of the incompetence of the Quezon City Government and here I am, still in shock, hearing the side comments of a person who should be aware in the first place of the accident that has transpired beside their office a few hours ago,” he remembers.
The footage was finally found with the time stamp of 1:21 pm.
What made matters worse was that the company the driver works for wanted Flores to pay for the damage “because the faulty traffic light is on the side of my road and the driver was just following the road signs.”
He tried to explain but to no avail. “I even requested to fix the settlement the next day because my body is aching and I want to have a check-up but they want me to settle right away,” says Flores, frustrated and disgusted. He says the company would rather “have the car impounded, halt the job of their driver, have their driver travel from QC to Valenzuela at night without the L300, with the on-going pandemic, just to bully me into settling.”
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In the end, Flores consulted a lawyer and they assessed and dealt with the situation. He thought about the driver of the L300, who’s only trying to make ends meet because he needs to feed his kid. His wife is in Singapore with an unstable job because of the COVID situation there.
Flores knows he can definitely take the matter to court, but he didn’t want to put more burden on the driver. And that’s when it dawned on him “how f**ked up everything is.”