MMDA Against the World?

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) constables have been in the news lately. From MMDA constables selling “kakanin” (street food) — while in officer’s uniform — to last years altercation with an arrogant driver. And yesterday, a war freak Maserati sports car driving dude beat up another MMDA constable.

Maserati_driver_who_punched__dragged_traffic_enforcer_named___ABS-CBN_NewsLet me get this out of the way before I make my point: I hope the police find this guy. Nowhere in modern society should we allow this kind of arrogant power tripping to exist. Jail him, whoever he is, however influential and wealthy he might be. Eto yung isa sa pinaka-iinisan ko: mga mayayaman na nilalapastangan ang karapatan at pagkatao ng mga ordinaryong tao. I hope this will become a case study where every one is behind the MMDA constable and punish this rich, probably influencial offender.

Now, having said that, let me switch gear and say what every Metro Manila driver is probably thinking: Most MMDA constables are jerks. Yes, I’m not going to take it back. I’d say, 9 out of 10 of them — or at least those that are assigned to apprehend — are only after bribes. Not just the MMDA, this includes all the other LGU-based traffic enforcers. This is based on my 12 years of experience driving around the Metro almost every day of my life.

Accept it or not, we have this “lagay” culture. And these officers, making their meager salary as an excuse, are resorting to using their power to apprehend traffic violators to ask for bribes. And we, because we don’t want the hassle, whether the apprehension is correct or not, we give in to giving out bribes. It’s a cycle. Give and take. It’s ugly. But it’s the truth.

And 9 out of 10 of them MMDAs are like these. Take it to the bank.

“Sir, P1,500 po ang penalty nito.”
“May seminar pa po ito.”
“Tikitan ko na po?”
“Kayo po, ano po ang gusto nyo.”
“Kayo po ang bahala.”
“Sige, pa miryenda lang”
“Ipit mo nalang dito.”

Sounds all familiar?

I never have in my entire road driving life in Metro Manila did I see an officer apprehend me, tells me about my violation, and writes a ticket right away — no questions asked.

(Oh, I remember one time. In San Juan. I made a wrong left turn. The officer told me about my violation. Asked for my license. Wrote a ticket right away and told me “O eto sir. Mas mababang offense: seat belt. Para lang mag tanda ka.” That’s why I left 10% for these type of honest officers)

It’s not a hopeless case. I hope the MMDA and the LGUs will make some reforms to fix this sad culture of corruption. I don’t know how — maybe raise their salaries, or professionalize traffic management, or make creative ways to weed out the corrupt officers.

As to us driving citizens:

– DO NOT give bribes. Don’t be a contributor to the MMDA Bribe Fund.

– If they start sounding like they’re asking for a bribe, just smile and say “sorry sir”. This is how I get away with simple traffic violations. I know they’re asking for bribes, and when they know I’m not giving anything, they give my license back anyway. Simple but effective.

– In my opinion, if you know you were wrongly apprehended, you have the right to argue — in a most respectful way. You can also choose to fight it out for arbitration. One time, I got apprehended in Makati. I know the dude just wanted a bribe and I’m not giving anything. My fault is I said it to his face. Bad. Disrespectful. Sorry naman. So he charged me with the supposed violation AND for being disrespectful to officers. I said I’ll meet him in arbitration. And we did. I was found innocent. The violation was dropped, but paid the penalty for being disrespectful instead. So the lesson: always try to keep your cool and be respectful. Now a days, I would just say respectfully, “Sir, sa tingin ko mali talaga kayo. So, tikitan nyo nalang ako, mag arbitration nalang tayo.” Sometimes, that is also the key phrase for the officer to drop the wrong apprehension.

So, let’s run after the Maserati dude. But please, MMDA, police your ranks too.

* * *

UPDATE: I still think that 1) it is never right to punch anyone unless it is for self-defense, and 2) by not stopping and/or alighting his vehicle, the Maserati driver is still disrespecting the officer. I would have stopped and argued my case if I have to.

Now, after watching this ANC interview with the driver himself, John Russel Ingco, I have some questions in mind:

1. How near are you to be punched by the driver of a vehicle if the driver is obviously inside his vehicle?

2. If Ingco is right handed, I’m imagining you should be very near, almost near the window to be at a striking distance. If that is the case, why would the MMDA constable be that near?

– Ingco said MMDA is grabbing his shirt.
– MMDA might say (presumably, based on his interviews) that he was trying to retrieve his cellphone.

Who is more believable?

3. Why would someone punch anyone in the face?

– Ingco said he was trying to get rid of MMDA constable who’s grabbing his shirt.
– MMDA said because he was taking video.

Interesting.

4. Was the MMDA taunting by taking a video? I don’t think taking a video is wrong in itself. But how was it done might have caused the difference.

Just throwing out some thoughts out there. This might need further updates as the story develops.

UPDATE 2: Apparently, this MMDA constable has bad history with other motorists. At least 2 motorists claim they had a bad experience with him — both say Adriatico was arrogant, hot tempered and violated their rights as motorists. Broadcaster Ted Failon read a February 2013 complaint against Adriatico addressed to MMDA Chairman Tolentino. According to the complaint, this MMDA constable punched and dented her car. It looks like the complaint either didn’t reach his office or didn’t receive any action at all.

But the MMDA Chairman stands by his guy. He claims that the other incidents are separate cases and should not confuse the Maserati case. I agree. This should be treated as separate cases. But my question to Chairman Tolentino is this: If these complainants file the complaints — in fact there was already a previous complaint — will he act on it? Or, will he still side with his constable — kasubuan na, eh.

Just a quick reminder to Chairman Tolentino: kami po ang boss nyo. Kami ang nagpapasweldo sa mga MMDA constables. Kung pwede po sana na kami muna ang kampihan nyo pag may nagrereklamo? Hindi yung parang mga banal lahat ng mga tao nyo at hindi nagkakamali.

Update 3: Just as I suspected, MMDA constable Adriatico is also a “Kotong” Konstabol — or at least according to those who claimed to have been victimised. He fits the profile.