A few thoughts before I start:
1. Do this only if you certainly believe, 100%, that you are right, and the officer is only after something else.
2. What I did may not be correct. I may be wrong, and for that, I am sorry, MMDA.
Obviously, Jayson’s not the guy.
The recent Fabros-Carabuena incident taught us two things: 1) that everyone deserves respect, more so, any guy in official uniform, and 2) that contrary to general public perception, not all MMDA officers are crooked. Most, I certainly hope, are still doing their jobs as best and as clean as they can.
I hope you guys heard me correctly right there. (Because I’m going to drop the bomb, called the “obvious” in a while). I think the leadership at MMDA, including by one of their directors, Atty. Yves Gonzales, is doing a great job in cleaning the system. I salute you, sirs, for the passion you guys have placed into the system. Let me say it clear, whatever bad things that any crooked MMDA officer do, it will not erase the efforts these passionate leaders we have here have started and are continuously doing.
But you, my reader, are not here, because of these. You are intrigued by the title of this blog, and I’m not about to bait-and-switch you. So, here’s the bomb — and it’s obvious — the system isn’t perfect yet. While it is true that NOT all MMDA officers are crooked, the same is true: there are still a lot roaming around the streets of Metro Manila that are waiting on you like a roaring lion, ready to devour you, dear motorist, with any little vulnerability you might have.
I mean, let’s be honest, MMDA officers are known to ‘apprehend’ motorists for the kotong. Why do we know this? Because it’s true. It’s happening. It is based on my experience. On hundred and thousands of motorists’ experience. And if you’re weak, you can be the very next victim. If you are a Metro Manila motorist, you know what I’m talking about. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been apprehended because I did something wrong. I’ve been apprehended for not doing anything wrong. And, yes I admit of giving in to what they want — what else, the bribe, P100, P200 even P500 — sometimes if not most of the times.
You know the drill. They will apprehend you. Tell you about your supposed violation. “Sir, P1500 to pag binayaran nyo.” They’ll grab their tickets and will ask “Ano ang gusto nyo, sir?” That’s your queue. Offer anything. Start with 100 or 200. If they’re in the mood, they won’t accept that until you shell out P500.
But what if you think you were apprehended for no apparent good reason? Maybe you’re on your way to a meeting. Or you’re 10 minutes late from office. Will you still argue? Or just hand over the moonee? Or just receive the ticket? Do you plan to just pay for it? Or contest it?
I’ve done it all. I bribed. I paid a ticket. I’ve gone through the long and time consuming process of contesting it.
But recently, I’ve promised myself not to give bribe any more. If something has to change, it has to change from me. From within. My conscience couldn’t take it anymore if my mere 100 peson will go to a crooked public officer. No bribing, not anymore. It’s either I’m going to pay for my ticket — if what I did is indeed wrong. Or contest it, to give the officer a lesson.
But. Contesting it through the MMDA office is tedious for a busy dude like me. If I’ll loose half of my day, I’ll loose a lot. More so if it’s the whole day.
So, without further ado, here’s what I did to talk out an MMDA officer in giving me ticket when I thought he’s only after the bribe.
* * *
Today, in one of the busy streets of Metro Manila (Sorry, I’m not saying where), I got apprehended by an MMDA officer. I believe I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But because I knew the drill, I stopped, he talked. You know, the usual line.
I explained. I didn’t do anything wrong. I knew he was going to the bribe part — because I know the drill.
But instead of offering a bribe, I alighted my vehicle — which, by the way, shouldn’t be done. Sorry.
I tried to explain why I think he is wrong. He argued — I didn’t, I was just trying to explain. He asked for my license — you know, the drill. Then, mentioned about the fees. But he knew I wasn’t about to give in.
Instead, here’s what I said: Sir, I’d be willing to receive the ticket. But I will contest this. So, in order for me to have proof how both our reasoning went today, I will need to document our conversation.
Then I grabbed my cellphone, asked my wife to start rolling.
He started covering his face. I know a cellphone camera will be very intimidating. Remember, I’m not really sure if what I did was right. But my only purpose is to have a document with me if ever we’re going the distance at the MMDA office.
He wouldn’t allow us to shoot him up close so I asked my wife to stop recording. I stopped talking. Some more arguing from him, he ran out of words. He knew I will never give in.
So, a slowly grabbed him in the shoulder, a little friendly, honoring tap at the back. I said, “Sir, pasensya na kung na intimidate kayo sa camera. Wala po ako balak I-post yan sa YouTube. Gusto ko lang talaga ma record ang usapan natin para may document ako. Kasi po, alam nyo naman, may mga tiwali talaga na kasama kayo. Hindi ko sinasabi na ganon ka. Mukha naman po hindi kayo ganon (Chos!). Pero talaga naman meron na ibang tiwali, di ba? Sa tingin ko naman, sir, ginagawa nyo lang ang tungkulin nyo. Pero kailangan ko lang rin naman protektahan ang rights ko.”
He was actually agreeing with me the whole time. And while I wasn’t really very honest in everything I said — I thought wasn’t any different — a little reverse psychology, appreciation and respect does work.
He gave me back my license, asked me where I’m going — you know, the tail end of the drill. We’ve completed the drill. Only, I didn’t give a bribe.
* * *
If you think you’re absolutely in the correct side of the discussion, here are some tips on handling discussions with an MMDA officer — and I’m an authority on this as I don’t know how many times I’ve had discussions with them on the road through the years.
1. Respect them. Don’t do a Carabuena. In one instance, I was disrespectful. I didn’t “punch” the officer. I didn’t shout. But I did say some bad words that I regret. I ended up with another violation — arrogance. Ouch!
2. Discuss, don’t argue. In my experience, MMDA officers are threatened when you discuss with them. They would think you’re already challenging their authority. You’d be drawn into a shouting match. Don’t go there. Just state your case calmly.
3. If stating your case does not work, you have 2 options: 1) Get the ticket and file a complaint. Or 2) If you have more time, stand your ground and not sign the ticket. I know, I know, this might be wrong. In fact, I have not tried this yet. But I think you have the right to not sign a document you don’t believe as valid. Besides, what’s the worse thing they will do? Put you in jail? If that happens, I don’t know, maybe I’ll be willing to have it for standing for what I believe is right. Over a traffic violation. Man, that’s life changing.
4. Please, don’t bribe. If nobody bribes, MMDA officers will stop asking for it. If they will stop asking for it, irregular apprehensions will be lessen or be totally gone. Everybody wins.
Again, I’m not saying this to downplay the things that our awesome leaders at MMDA are doing. I’m just stating a fact, as a citizen, as a motorist. You can agree with me, or disagree with what I have done. But, being a constant figure in our streets, this is close to my heart. And I’m standing by this.
PS: These tips do not apply to MMDA only. This also applies to the city based traffic personnel — who, I will argue, are even far worse that some MMDA officers. In my experience, Makati’s MAPSA are the worse. Pinaka mga buwaya yan. Mas brutal yan sa paghingi. Second honorable mention, QC traffic personnel. The most friendly and professional are those from Mandaluyong Traffic — though, I have encountered one or two instance where they asked for something. Di talaga mawala sa sistema.