How to React When Pulled Over by Traffic Enforcers in The Philippines

The following is not something we made up, it’s something we researched, and we believe that are proven facts. Many people have many questions about that and answers are often poorly covered, scattered all over the place, or misleading. Let’s try to get the facts together, alongside sources (where applicable).

We are no lawyers. But we have spoken to a lot of them. And everything we say here is quite well researched, although, we can not guarantee 100% accuracy.
Photo by Brian Dys Sahagun (Keen Eyes) on flickr - Flock of MMDA Officers
Photo by Brian Dys Sahagun

Generally

  • Keep calm, rational and respectful. Stick to facts, do not over-discuss things. Make your point, short and powerful, but calm. Hot tempers have never helped anyone. Even keep calm when the officer doesn’t, or especially then. We know, it’s hard sometimes.
  • Give yourself understanding. Even if you’re not, deep inside. Make a fist in the pocket, swallow the bitter pill, but act kind and as if you’d understand the situation of the officer. “Yes Sir, I understand, but …” is always helpful.
  • Don’t tell an officer how educated you are and how uneducated he seems to you. This is arrogant behavior, and it hurts the pride and dignity of people, no matter if officer or not. Expect that an officer will feel the attempt of intimidation, which leads to resistance and the urge to over-rule you, instead of acting kindly into your direction.
  • DO. NOT. BRIBE. There are better ways to not have your license confiscated and/or pay too much for a ticket. More on this below …
  • If you have a recording device, be it audio or video, use it! Record the conversation that’s taking place at your car window. Almost every (smart)phone has a recording feature. When certain words come out of the officers mouth — that could indicate illegal practices — let the officer know that all of this is being recorded, and see how the “flair” of the conversation changes immediately. Your recording can be very useful when it comes to your official complaint! If you’re too upset to do anything like that (or not tech-savvy enough), ask another person in the vehicle to do so. Or at least: take written notes of literally everything regarding the situation.
  • You don’t need to hand your driver’s license out, you just need to show it. That’s a difference! The membrane between a license you still own and one that’s confiscated is thin.
  • Protest against actions, clearly and loud enough to get heard by all individuals involved (witnesses), but execute them when asked, as long as they’re clearly not illegal. But protest! Don’t forget the first rule, though: keep calm, even if you protest.
  • In case of an accident: NEVER (NEVER!) say anything about what went down, and do not reply to accusations. In short: shut up, but say “I don’t want to make any comments right now”. When being asked “why not?”, repeat that sentence. Repeat it 100 times, if necessary, but don’t let yourself being dragged into something. Everything you say on site can be used against you. And you do not have to say anything, according to the law. Your lawyer (!) and insurances will sort this out, and you should lay it all into their hands. Exchange personal data where asked, and ask for it yourself, let the police handle that. Always request the POLICE to handle things on site! Do not make foul deals on how to handle damages or things like that. As long as you’re insured, all will be fine. Not insured? Sorry, but get off the road, you don’t belong there.
  • Over-speeding? Ask for proof. Always. Mind that detection devices are subject to inaccuracy, that’s why you can generally subtract 10% of what’s been measured. Usually the authorities do that already. If not: insist on it.
  • Print this page (there’s a button for that below this article) and put it into your vehicle. Pull it out when you need to remember stuff, or even show it to the officer.

If a motorist is apprehended by an MMDA officer, here are some guidelines based on MMDA rules and tips shared by (former) MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino

  1. Park your car at the side of the road;
  2. Do not alight from the vehicle. Let the MMDA officer approach your car;
  3. When requested by the MMDA officer, motorists must show their driver’s license and vehicle registration;
  4. Motorists may demand to see an MMDA officer’s “Mission Order” which indicates an officer’s area of responsibility, time of duty, official function and authority to issue tickets;
  5. A motorist can question an MMDA officer’s ability to apprehend if such officer is acting outside of his/her Mission Order;
  6. Apprehending MMDA officers are required to be courteous;
  7. Apprehended motorists should also be courteous.
  8. A motorist can question an MMDA officer’s apprehension or issuance of a “Traffic Violation Receipt” (TVR) by filing a contest with the MMDA’s Traffic Adjudication Division within five days after apprehension.

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether MMDA officers can confiscate a driver’s license.

RA7924 grants MMDA the authority to confiscate, suspend or revoke drivers’ licenses in the enforcement of traffic laws and regulations.

Take note, however, that most traffic violations do not entail confiscation of driver’s licenses by MMDA officers. While MMDA officers may demand to see a driver’s license when apprehended for traffic violations, they may not automatically confiscate a driver’s license.

A driver’s license may be confiscated only under certain situations, which include:

  • the driver was involved in a traffic accident;
  • the driver has accumulated three or more unsettled violations

the driver has been apprehended for certain types of violations such as (but not limited to)

  • allowing another person to use his/her driver’s license,
  • operating a colorum vehicle;
  • driving against traffic;
  • driving through an illegal or unauthorized counter-flow;
  • using illegally transferred car plates;
  • or overspeeding.

For traffic concerns or complaints within Metro Manila, the MMDA may be reached at its hotline: 136, or the Metrobase at 0917-527-7304, VIBER: 0906-1476975. Emails may also be sent to: email@mmda.gov.ph or digitalmmda@gmail.com

As mentioned earlier: Apprehended drivers can ask for the traffic enforcer’s mission order from the MMDA Central Admin Office.

You may do this in order to ensure that the traffic enforcer who apprehended you was really on patrol in the area you were in that day. The mission order should include his time of duty, assigned area, and whether he is authorized to issue tickets.

(Source)

Photo by Brian Dys Sahagun (Keen Eyes) on flickr - MMDA Officers
Photo by Brian Dys Sahagun

“The MMDA is not vested with police power”

What does that mean? It means that MMDA is not acting on behalf of the state or country. LTO is, as a government authority. LTO gave certain power to MMDA, but not police power.

(Source)

I think I didn’t do anything wrong!

Good, nothing wrong about that. It’s your right to see things differently, as a citizen, even as a foreigner (laws apply to everyone in the country, unless you’re a diplomat). The Philippines is a “Democratic Republic”, and part of democratic values is the right to defend yourself when you think you’re being treated wrongly. Even if you’re not right, but think you are, you have the right to complain. Nothing bad will happen to you.

Those who wish to file complaints against malpractices of enforcers may do so at metrosolusyon.mmda.gov.ph. The MMDA also has a Twitter account and Facebook page. We learned that MMDA people respond surprisingly quickly.

Make use of this!

A court decision

A trial court rendered the assailed decision in favor of the respondent and held that (excerpt):

The summary confiscation of a drivers license without first giving the driver an opportunity to be heard; depriving him of a property right (drivers license) without DUE PROCESS; not filling (sic) in Court the complaint of supposed traffic infraction, cannot be justified by any legislation (and is) hence unconstitutional.

WHEREFORE, the temporary writ of preliminary injunction is hereby made permanent; th(e) MMDA is directed to return to plaintiff his drivers license; th(e) MMDA is likewise ordered to desist from confiscating drivers license without first giving the driver the opportunity to be heard in an appropriate proceeding.

(Source)

We hope that this article helps you getting through the demanding traffic of the Philippines. Please, one more thing, again: we did good research, but always recommend you talk to your lawyer. You can also show your attorney this article. Please, if you know better, by all means: correct us in the comment section for this post! We might be wrong, no matter how well we researched. Thank you, have a safe trip always!

IMPORTANT: This is what the MMDA says themselves (“10 Things That Drivers Should Know”), and you should read this. You’ll be surprised. Some of this is already said here (in other words), but the MMDA goes a few levels deeper.

Please, share this article (buttons for that below) when you think it’s helpful, so other truckers — and all motorists — know what to do when they get pulled over, for a good reason or not, which is often the case.

One thought on “How to React When Pulled Over by Traffic Enforcers in The Philippines

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