January 5, 2007
To Mr. Bayani Fernando and the rest of the people in MMDA:
Last night at around 8:30 in the evening, our van was stalled in the middle of EDSA and we were able to pull over by the U-Turn right between EDSA Shrine and the POEA building. I’m pretty sure we were NOT obstructing traffic because cars and buses were freely moving on the lane beside our van. I called my mom, who in turn called the Wheelers Club that we are a member of so that our van could be brought to our house. We were waiting in the van (I was with our family driver) and had our hazard lights on. One MMDA officer came up to us and asked what had happened. Our driver told him that our van just stopped moving and that we had already called the Wheelers Club to send over a tow truck. So he left us.
And then, this group of four MMDA officers riding a tow truck (one of those MMDA ON THE ROAD type of trucks) pulls over near the U-Turn slot. One of them comes up to the driver and asks what had happened. So our driver relates the same story he told the other officer. And then, this particular officer says that apparently someone called them and said that we were causing traffic. OBVIOUSLY, like I said before, we weren’t. But anyway, they expressed concern that since we were on a U-Turn slot, we might cause an accident, etc. So fine. Then, he says that they’ll bring us to their office (which is just a few blocks away from the U-Turn slot, after the intersection). And I call my mom to ask if this was right, because I really am not knowledgable about these things. She said that they will charge us P1,800 if we get towed and to explain to these officers that a Wheelers Club truck is already on its way. And that if we aren’t causing any traffic, it’ll be alright to wait. The officers were insisting, though, that we had to be moved. And then, they said something about, “Kayo na lang ang bahala..” which usually means money for their trouble. My mom talked to one of them and even asked if she was going to be given a receipt if we paid them. And the officer said no, because hindi naman daw sila naniningil. If we want a receipt, they’ll get the accredited towing service to tow us and we will pay P1,600 and our vehicle will be impounded. I thought this was absurd! I mean, if we already called a tow truck, why should we pay another P1,600 to be moved to yet another place? Anyway, I don’t know what happened but they hooked up us to their truck and brought us over to the emergency bay right across Megamall. And then, they said to tell the Wheelers Club that we had been moved there. So I called my mom again so she could call the Wheelers Club.
And then, I don’t know why, but my driver came over to the officers. And for some reason, when he came back, he was asking me for money. Apparently, these four officers asked for P300, which for I don’t know what reason, my driver gave them. And they wanted P100 more because they were four. Pang-kape daw nila. Ano po ba ang kape na iniinom ng MMDA officers at tig-P100 ang cost nito? Reluctantly, I gave the P100 because my driver looked like he was going to get a heart attack from all the stress. Thinking back, I wish I didn’t give it to them because three minutes later, the Wheelers Club truck arrived at the Emergency Bay.
It must be noted that right after these four officers were given money, they quickly left.
Now, I’m not sure about the rules you have over at your office but I’m pretty sure that asking for money like this IS NOT LEGAL. If it is, there should have been a receipt given. And if it is legal, I don’t know why you should be asking for extra money when it is YOUR JOB to do this. I’m sure these people get paid to do their job and our simple THANK YOU is enough for their trouble. I am really, really mad about what had happened. I seriously think that your office should do something about this rampant abuse of “power,” if you can call it that. I know it was a mistake to give them the money, but I had no control over our driver and he was just scared and didn’t know any better. But I hope that you do something about it, because it would be a shame if this will keep happening to other people.
Unfortunately, I was not able to get the names of said officers but was able to note down the plate number of the truck. It was XLE 155 (or it may have been 755, it wasn’t that visible), but I’m pretty sure that it was TOW TRUCK 8. And whoever was on duty at 9:30 in the evening last night (January 4) were the people who got money from us for their GOLDEN coffee. I hope you really do something about this because I think it’s terrible that courtesy and help have a price now. My God. Isn’t THANK YOU worth anything in this country anymore?