By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
A PUBLIC Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) personnel assigned at the controversial Diversion Road in Mandurriao district passed away on June 20, 2019 purportedly due to exposure to extreme heat.
Sanny Ballentos, 50, of Brgy. Mansaya, Lapuz, Iloilo City fell unconscious on June 18 after manning the pedestrian lanes of Diversion Road.
Ballentos’s death prompted the PSTMO to plan better work system and benefits for traffic enforcers.
PSTMO head Jeck Conlu said Ballentos may have succumbed to extreme heat.
“Naglain matyag niya sang Tuesday but hambal niya tapuson niya ang duty niya so gin-dul-ong siya sa iya balay pagnaog niya sa salakyan, nagcollapse mga 6 p.m. Gindala siya sa St. Paul’s Hospital and just this morning, we were informed that he already died,” Conlu said in a phone interview on Thursday.
Conlu said that they started deploying personnel to Diversion road following the tragic accident that claimed the lives of two public school teachers on Saturday.
“We were tasked to assign personnel on the Diversion road but tam-an gid ka lapad and open ang Diversion road amo na hindi man makaya sang aton mga personnel kag iban sa ila gareklamo naman kay tam-an ka init,” he lamented.
Due to lack of personnel, Conlu said that they had been shifting their personnel from three other divisions – Special Services Division, Traffic Management Division, and Public Safety Unit – to render traffic management works.
“Kulang kita sa tawo so ginalibot-libot naton sila. In Diversion road, we assigned eight personnel to man the area and guide the public especially in the pedestrian lanes,” he said.
Following the death of Ballentos, Conlu said that they are now looking into approaches that would help minimize hazards to traffic personnel.
Last year, about seven traffic auxiliaries in Iloilo City passed away, according to Conlu.
“Ginatun-an pa namon kon ano na approach ang possible pa mahimo naton para maminimize ang danger sa personnel,” he said.
Conlu added that he has discussed with Mayor-elect Jerry Treñas the possible changing of the system and additional benefits for the traffic personnel.
“Nadiscuss man namon ni Mayor Treñas nga lainon ang system kag benefits. Liwaton ini siya, indi lang ila trabaho kag pati ila sitwasyon bilang government employee,” he said.
As of now, traffic auxiliaries and personnel are working voluntary in nature with a minimum of ten hours of duty for six days in a week.
Conlu said that their salary is honorarium-based, amounting to only P8,300 per month with no other benefits.