Traffic enforcer in viral ‘kotong’ video may lose job

Traffic enforcer in viral ‘kotong’ video may lose job
Screenshot from viral video

THE traffic enforcer of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team) who was allegedly caught extorting money from a driver he had apprehended in Barangay Alang-Alang on Thursday, March 21, 2024, will face termination from service if proven guilty.

The Team already completed the investigation on the incident and has suspended him.

In a video that went viral on social media, the enforcer was caught on camera accepting something from a truck driver after issuing a citation ticket.

In an interview on Friday, March 22, City Councilor Jimmy Lumapas, chairman of the committee on transportation, said the Mandaue City Government already launched an investigation on the incident.

In the Philippines, extortion is commonly known as “kotong.” It occurs when a law enforcement official or public official intimidates or unlawfully extracts money or property from a person who is facing apprehension or charges for violating, or suspected of violating any law. They do this by exercising their authority unduly in exchange for protection against possible arrest or filing of charges.

Lumapas clarified that although it was evident that the enforcer accepted something from the driver, it was unclear whether it was money. He said a more thorough investigation was necessary to determine the truth.

Lumapas assured that he would inform Team to identify the enforcer in the video and request an explanation from him.

He said if the enforcer is found guilty, the City will immediately terminate his services, as they do not tolerate such behavior.

“As transportation committee chairman, I’ve worked hard to make sure enforcers get a substantial salary. That’s why they get above minimum wage. Yet despite my efforts, there is still corruption?” said Lumapas in a mix of Cebuano and English.

He admitted that there are instances when drivers plead with enforcers to be lenient and not impose penalties, particularly for minor violations.

He clarified that such requests are acceptable, as long as no money is involved.

He said this is the first extortion incident reported among Team enforcers in 2024.

It is not yet clear whether the driver who allegedly bribed the enforcer will face legal charges.

“Complimentary gift”

Hyll Retuya, assistant head of Team, said they have completed their investigation and have temporarily suspended the traffic enforcer.

They will be forwarding the results of their investigation to their legal department.

During their investigation, Retuya said the enforcer admitted to receiving something from the driver, but denied that it was a bribe.

The enforcer said it was a “complimentary gift,” but he refused to disclose whether it was money or not.

Retuya said this is not the first time that they have had to deal with incidents of this nature. In 2023, they fired three Team personnel also for extortion.

But the incident on Thursday was the first one that went viral.

Team enforcers are job order (JO) workers who are paid around P11,000 to P12,000 per month, and work in two shifts -- 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. for 30 days.

Last January 2024, Lumapas passed an ordinance that increased the daily rate of Team enforcers from P420 to P435, which is slightly higher than the Visayas minimum wage of P405.

The ordinance also reduced their working days to 28 days.

Retuya said the Team has around 300 traffic enforcers.

Value integrity

Retuya advised Team enforcers to avoid getting tempted by bribery and to prioritize their integrity over corrupt practices.

As part of their intervention, he said they have been providing Team enforcers with educational campaigns and information on how to perform their duties effectively while following proper rules and regulations.

Lumapas also encouraged motorists to refrain from resorting to bribery, as it could put the job of the enforcers in danger. (HIC)


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