MMDA terminates traffic enforcers in viral extortion video

MMDA terminates traffic enforcers in viral extortion video
In a statement yesterday morning, the MMDA cited the OCTA Research Group’s report released on April 16 that several cities in Metro Manila had downward trends in new COVID-19 cases, as the reproduction number in the capital region dropped to 1.16 from 1.19 the earlier week.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has terminated the employment of two traffic enforcers caught attempting robbery extortion in a viral video on social media. 

In a statement sent to reporters, MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said he approved the termination from service of traffic enforcers Mark James Ayatin and Jayson Salibio, both of whom were job order personnel assigned at C5 Special Traffic Zone. 

According to the MMDA resolution, both enforcers “committed grave misconduct as public employees” following an investigation on a complaint and video uploaded on social media involving them in a robbery/extortion activity. 

What happened?

On Wednesday, May 12, the complaint filed by one Christ Edward Lumagui said Ayatin and Salibio flagged his vehicle on May 7 along Levi Mariano Avenue corner C5 in Taguig City as he was about to make a U-turn and claimed he committed a traffic violation.

The motorist first pleaded for consideration but later told the enforcers to issue him a traffic ticket citation instead for his violation. However, Salibio asked for his driver's license and instructed him to make a U-turn so that they could talk on the other side of the road. At this point, he and his cousin decided to record the ordeal on video. 

Ayatin insisted that he will not be able to drive since he is using an international driver's license and that they are willing to help. Lumagui reiterated that he would just get the ticket citation. But Ayatin "insisted to help him," which the MMDA statement said was "a discreet way of telling him to just give grease money." 

In the latter part not shown in the video, the two enforcers checked his cousin's cell phone and demanded P300 for the violation. After Salibio took the money from Lumagui, they let them go. 

Based on the MMDA Legal Department’s investigation, the video clip clearly showed that the two enforcers displayed their intent to extort money, which is a violation of MMDA  policies, rules, regulations, and existing laws.

“It was evident that the two respondents conspired and acted in concert to extort money from Lumagui, which they successfully did,” the resolution read. 

“Considering that respondents' employment status are mere Job Order employees which contract of service are not covered by Civil Service Law but by COA Rules under Section 2, Rule XI of the Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions, thus, they cannot be charged under the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases,” the resolution added. 

Erring enforcers warned

Abalos acknowledged social media as a tool in exposing unscrupulous activities being committed by some of its personnel, while underscoring the importance of reporting such actions to the agency's official social media accounts. 

He also warned that personnel involved in illegalities will have cases hurled against them if they continually violate the MMDA's policies. 

“These two traffic enforcers are now terminated. The MMDA does not and will never condone any wrongdoing of our personnel,” Abalos said. 

"We won't be gentle in meting out punishments as we are very serious in keeping the MMDA corruption-free."

Just the week before, the MMDA dismissed from service two traffic enforcers also on a viral video after an investigation also found them guilty of extortion and grave misconduct. 



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