A TAXI driver who ordered his passengers to disembark in the middle of heavy traffic last Jan. 7 earned his lesson the hard way yesterday, when the authorities ordered him to pay P18,000 in fines.

Bebiano A. Dapal Jr. of Upper Suran, Quiot, Pardo in Cebu City cried out loud when he heard the verdict from lawyer Edwin Antepuesto, a hearing officer in the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

His reaction moved complainant Wella Mae Olmedo of Talamban, Cebu City, who forgave him. Her decision prompted Antepuesto to reduce the fine to P6,000, for arrogance.

Dapal was driving a Catz taxi when he ordered a group to get out because they refused to give him the P2,000 he demanded, after a baby threw up in his cab. He also charged them the full fare, instead of giving the required P10 discount.

Dapal was found guilty of arrogance for demanding P2,000, discourtesy for ordering his passengers to leave before they could reach their destination, and overcharging.

Under Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-001 of the LTFRB, Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Department of Transportation and Communication, each violation carries a fine of P6,000.

But Dapal’s total fine of P18,000 was reduced to P6,000 after Olmedo forgave him.

A Facebook post on Olmedo and her group’s experience went viral. The other day, the Traffic Emergency and Management in Mandaue City intercepted Dapal then forwarded the complaint to the LTFRB.

His driver’s license was confiscated.

Olmedo, an administrative officer of a private company, complained that in the morning last Jan. 7, she and her mother, sister and her sister’s one-year-old child boarded Dapal’s taxi in Talamban and asked him to drive them to Birhen sa Regla in Lapu-Lapu City.

While they were near the University of Cebu’s Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue campus, the child threw up twice but Olmedo said she immediately cleaned up the mess using a small towel.

Dapal, however, allegedly got angry and demanded P2,000 so he could get the car cleaned. Depal allegedly shouted and pointed a finger at the child’s grandmother when the latter reminded him that such a young child needed understanding.

When the passengers refused Depal’s demand of P2,000, he stopped his taxi and ordered them to pay the full amount on the meter (more than P100), instead of deducting P10.

After receiving the amount, Dapal allegedly shouted at them to disembark immediately. At one point, he also challenged his passengers to report the matter to his taxi operator or the LTO.

Meanwhile, operatives of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) 7 arrested a 30-year-old man for allegedly stealing taxis in Cebu City.

Senior Supt. Jose Macanas, HPG 7 chief, identified the suspect as Romel Montellano, who hails from Tabogon in northern Cebu.

His latest alleged victim is Ernesto Hinonsalao. The two met in the HPG 7 yesterday morning.

About 10 taxi units were reported stolen to the HPG 7 last year, according to Macanas.

Montellano admitted stealing taxi units after his license expired last November and his brother fell sick. His idea was to change the vehicles’ names so these would not be traced.

Macanas said that Montellano drove the stolen cabs to earn money and robbed some of his passengers.

Last Monday afternoon, the HPG 7 operatives found one of the stolen taxis parked in Villagonzalo 2, Barangay Tejero, Cebu City.

They caught Montellano after a brief chase.

Around 6 p.m. last Jan. 6, Hinonsalao parked his vehicle outside a mall in the North Reclamation Area because he saw several passengers in line waiting for a ride.

The driver saw Montellano’s companion board a taxi, while the suspect approached Hinonsalao.

The suspect then instructed to transport him to a hotel, which is also in the NRA.

Hinonsalao obliged, thinking he could pick up some students from a medical university after he dropped the man off.

But Montellano allegedly aimed a knife at the driver and told him to get out of the taxi.

Later, his taxi operator reported the incident to HPG 7.