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Saturday, July 31, 2021

‘Traffic extortion’

TWO traffic enforcers in Mandaue City have been relieved from their posts after they were caught on video allegedly asking for money from a traffic violator in exchange for a citation ticket.

The Jan. 18 incident was recorded by a foreigner who had mounted a camera on the dashboard of his motorcycle.



He had with him his Filipino girlfriend as passenger when he ignored a No U-turn sign on Ouano Ave. in Mandaue City and consequently apprehended by the traffic enforcers.

The foreigner uploaded last Jan. 27 the video clip to YouTube.

The four-minute clip included text accusing the traffic enforcers of asking P2,000 from him and his girlfriend, instead of giving them a citation ticket.

Edwin Ermac, chief of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team), said the two traffic enforcers, Arman Gallardo and Gringo Pinados, have been relieved from their
posts.

While the clip doesn’t show the traffic enforcers accepting money, Ermac said they erred when they did not issue a citation ticket to the motorist.

In an interview with reporters yesterday, Ermac urged the foreigner to file a
complaint at the Team office, saying the video clip, with its poor audio, is not enough proof the traffic enforcers extorted money.

In the video, neither the foreigner nor his girlfriend is seen handing money to any of the traffic enforcers, but the foreigner is seen getting inside the patrol car.

The foreigner said the traffic enforcers let go of him and his girlfriend after she gave them P1,500. He said this happened last Jan. 18.

This was a Sunday and Cebu City was holding the Sinulog grand parade.

The video, titled “Mandaue Cops Sinulog 2015”, was uploaded last Jan. 27 and has been viewed more than 500 times as of yesterday.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ermac said the foreigner should file a formal complaint so the Team management can discipline the two traffic enforcers.

Ermac said Gallardo and Pinados have denied the allegation in an incident report he asked them to submit after the matter was brought to his attention yesterday.

The traffic enforcers said they didn’t issue the foreigner a citation ticket, which comes with a P200 fine, after his girlfriend asked them for consideration.

Ermac said Team personnel are generally considerate to foreigners because they might not be familiar yet with the local traffic rules and regulations.

In the video, the foreigner lamented that traffic enforcers apprehended him while allowing tricycles to pass through the same highway.

A national policy prohibits tricycles from plying national roads.

The foreigner said he saw the sign prohibiting U-turn “but this is Cebu, nobody usually takes notice.”

While the clip doesn’t show the traffic enforcers accepting money, Ermac said they erred when they decided not to issue a citation ticket.

“They have to prove to the investigators that they did it in good faith and not because they were given money,” said Ermac.

He said he has endorsed the matter to the City Legal Office and the Human Resource Management Office.

Ermac said traffic enforcers who are proven to have extorted money will be terminated from service.

“We observe due process. There should be thorough investigation and strong evidence before any disciplinary action is taken,” he said.

Ermac said Gallardo and Pinados have been relieved from their post as mobile traffic enforcers and their citation tickets have been recalled. The two are now assigned to man the traffic at junctions.

Ermac appealed to the foreigner to come to their office and execute an affidavit, saying uploading a video online only serves to taint Team’s image.

Ermac said he rarely receives reports about extortion, as most complaints that reach him are those concerning abusive and arrogant traffic enforcers.
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