BARANGAY captains from Dalaguete town, some of whom are vegetable haulers, are complaining about some policemen who flag them down in Minglanilla and Talisay City and demand money for passage of their trucks.
During the barangay assembly in second district towns, village chiefs who operate hauling trucks alleged that policemen threaten to issue their drivers a citation ticket when they deliver vegetables to Carbon Market in Cebu City.
The policemen collect P200 from every truck driver. The barangay officials said they are victimized at least three times a week.
If they don’t pay P200, their license is confiscated and they are issued a temporary operator’s permit (TOP) for violations, such as overloading.
The penalty for overloading is P1,500.
The TOP is valid for 72 hours. Beyond this, the driver cannot drive unless he pays the fine. He has 15 days to pay it so he can claim back his license, otherwise his license is suspended or revoked after then.
The barangay officials said that from Barangay Mantalongon alone, around 10 to 15 trucks get victimized each day. Haulers from other barangays in Dalaguete complained to local officials that they also fall victims to extortion.
A barangay captain who requested anonymity narrated during the meeting how the policemen operate.
On a typical day, a patrol car stops the truck near the Mary Help of Christians School in Tungkop and asks the driver to get off the truck.
The driver approaches the parked patrol car, where the policeman threatens the driver with a TOP.
The truck driver then reaches into his pocket. The police officer tells the drivers: “Ihagbong lang diha (Just drop the money inside the car).”
Aside from the P500 that they pay the driver for every round trip to Carbon market, the truck operators give P200 more for the driver’s and truck boy’s dinner.
“Usahay magbagulbol kay tua na sa police ang ilang panihapon (They would complain that the money for their dinner ends up with the policemen),” the barangay captain from Dalaguete said.
In Talisay city, the extortion happens right after a truck turns right to the Cebu South Coastal Road.
The policemen from Talisay allegedly operate in the same way as those in Minglanilla.
In separate interviews yesterday, the police chiefs of Talisay City and Minglanilla challenged the concerned barangay chiefs to formalize their complaints and identify the policemen involved.
Chief Insp. Richard Gadingan, the Minglanilla police chief, told Sun.Star Cebu that the barangay captains should support their accusation against his men with proof.
“Lisud sad kaayo nga magtumo-tumo na sila nga walay klarong ebidensya ug kiha man lang (It’s also not fair to hurl accusations without evidence or a formal complaint),” Gadingan said. “It’s unfair to us who are doing our job because our reputation would be tainted.”
He said that when he heard about the accusation of the vegetable haulers, he immediately confronted his men about it. But his men, particularly those involved in traffic enforcement, have denied the accusation.
For his part Supt. Germano Mallari, the new acting Talisay City police chief, said that he is also looking into the accusation against his men.
He also urged the barangay chiefs to file a complaint or visit the police station to identify the policemen who extort from them.
Mallari said he himself will file complaints against his own men if there is evidence to support the accusation.
At the Capitol, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale urged the vegetable haulers to get the policemen’s names through their name plate and the plate numbers of the patrol cars so that the Province can act on the complaints.
When asked if similar extortion activities happen in Naga City and Cebu City, a barangay captain said there is none, but traffic enforcers at the South Road Properties would sometimes also flag down trucks for certain offenses.
“Di man gud mi kabalibad aning mga vendor nga motungtong sa trak kay mao na may naandan, nanghiyawat lagi (We cannot refuse vegetable vendors who hop on trucks because they’re also just trying to save on fare),” a barangay captain told Sun.Star Cebu.