Traffic > Appraisal

In response to ‘ticket trap’ issue, Makati City points to MMDA

Also, traffic personnel in the area have reportedly been replaced

This passes for ‘traffic management’ in Makati. PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Yesterday, we shared a video and narrated our experience with one curious intersection in Makati City—the crossing of Gil Puyat Avenue and Bautista Street. We said the junction seemed to be a ticket trap, with malfunctioning traffic lights aiding stationary traffic enforcers further down the road in ensnaring “erring” drivers.

The story got passed around very quickly. Virtually everyone agreed with the article, many having gone through the same ordeal in the past—at exactly the same location. People then started tagging the social media pages of the Makati government, even that of Mayor Abigail Binay.

To cut it short, the city issued a statement via its Makati Traffic Twitter account:

Here is the message in full:

Good day! We have checked and initial report is that the stoplight is owned by the MMDA. We will coordinate this for its maintenance.

As an initial measure, assigned personnel in the area have been replaced pending further investigation on the allegations posted on the site. New traffic enforcers have been assigned to the area. However, [a] review of the documents shows that only those who are making an illegal left turn and violating the UVVRP are being apprehended and none for stoplight violations considering that the stoplight is not functioning.

Nevertheless, the City will conduct a full investigation of the matter and update the public on its progress. We are inviting the writer of the article to appear in City Hall during the investigation. He can get in touch with Atty. Michael Camiña, city legal officer of the Law Department, for the schedule. We thank him for his vigilance and hope that this will be resolved immediately.

Where do we begin?

First, the opening statement is very typical of Filipino leaders (especially politicians). When confronted with an issue, the automatic reaction is to shift the focus to someone or something else. For the sake of argument, even if said traffic light is owned by the MMDA, it is installed in your territory. Therefore, it becomes as much your own lookout as it is the MMDA’s. By the statement’s logic, Makati’s leaders are saying they will just sit around helplessly if their faucet at home stops delivering water because the supply is the responsibility of Manila Water. That’s your house, guys. You should know (and we think you do) what’s happening in every nook and corner of your city.

Second, the statement says there has been a review of “the documents,” which supposedly showed that the city’s traffic enforcers stationed in the area weren’t apprehending “for stoplight violations.” Of course you found no records! Hello? Did you even read the comments posted by affected motorists? The place is a trap, designed to extort money from unsuspecting drivers. These enforcers are said to accept bribes—that’s what everyone has been screaming (for many years now, apparently). Why would these bribes be documented? “Okay, ma’am, here’s a ticket as official proof we took P500 from you as penalty for a phantom violation. Have a good day.” Naman.

Third, why are we (this website) needed in the investigation? We have nothing more to say. We unloaded everything we knew in that article. And everyone concurred. We have no desire whatsoever to be part of a PR spectacle. And what is there to investigate? The way we see it, there are two things that are very clear here: (1) The traffic lights are busted, and (2) the traffic enforcers are wasting time under the shade instead of directing the flow of traffic through the intersection. What could our role possibly be in solving these? Either you fix this issue or you don’t. It’s that simple.

The ball is in your court, our honorable Makati City leaders. Everyone will be watching. Make your constituents proud.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.