I WAS invited to Pampanga to test drive Haima cars, which are made in China. I was not too excited. After all, Chinese cars spur too much excitement. If I would go, then I would have to reprogram my thinking, which means I’m going to evaluate these cars not on the basis of how quick it takes me from zero to 100 or how it can take a corner, but rather how well it can take me from point A to point B.
Chinese cars, generally, have a bad reputation. It has been known to be unreliable and made with poor quality. The first Chinese car I encountered was the Beijing Jeep that was introduced in the Philippine market in the early 90s. Not many remember this vehicle and I have not seen one running in more than 10 years. However, I was told that Haima will make me change my opinion of Chinese cars. So let’s see.
By doing a little research online, I learned that Haima used to be the Chinese partner of Mazda Japan. Now they are on their own and manufacturing cars based from what they have learned from their former partner.
In the Philippines, Haima is imported and distributed by the Laus Group, a company that has been in the business since 1978 and has a total of 37 independent dealerships. This includes Mitsubishi-Carworld, Ford, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Kia, Suzuki, Nissan, Mazda and BMW.
The Laus Group knows the automotive industry well, and they have been testing and selling Haima cars in Northern Luzon, from Pampanga all the way to Bagiuo for several years. The brand has a number of cars in its lineup, from a utility drop-side pickup to a crossover SUV with compact sedans in between.
The group said the time has come for Haima to go nationwide, believing that the brand is ready to compete in certain segments of the market because of its good quality — better than other China-made cars sold in the Philippines. I am very curious. I will test those cars and give a full report.
Implementing the Anti-Drunk & Drugged Driving Act
Finally, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) has announced that the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act has been released. I have been searching for a copy online but could not fine one.
What I understand from DOTC’s press release is that a person has to be apprehended for a traffic violation, and if he is suspected to be under the influence, he will be asked to take a battery of sobriety tests. If he passes, then he gets apprehended only for his traffic violation, but if he fails then he will have to take a breathalyzer test. This checks if the alcohol level is beyond the legal limit, and there it can be determined if he is in violation of the act.
On paper, these look good since it protects our rights. A driver will not be asked to pull over on mere suspicion because he must first violate a traffic law before the sobriety test comes in to play. My fear, though, is that we might see traffic enforcers inventing violations just so they can randomly test someone.
I remember during my law school days in Manila when I switched from one lane to another in a perfectly legal manner, a traffic enforcer apprehended me for swerving. I believe there was no such violation and he just wanted my money. Unluckily for him, I was a broke student and had nothing to give him. He pointed me to the nearest ATM, but I told him I didn’t have a card and so he let me go.
It is also unclear whether or not the drunk driver tests will be applicable to non-moving violations such as parking in a no parking zone, or driving at night with non-functioning headlights. I hope a full and complete copy of the Implementing Rules and Regulations will be published soon.