Me and my family attended a baptismal ceremony at St. Francis of Assisi Parish this morning and since the church is near SM Megamall and the reception is in a restaurant just inside this mall, my husband decided that we'll just park at SM Megamall.
We are not familiar with the traffic flow within this area but since we brought the children with us, we decided to bring the car.
We were traversing the inner lane of Dona Julia Vargas Avenue going to SM Megamall when we were flagged down by a Pasig Traffic Enforcer (the blue boys of Pasig City) after we crossed San Miguel Avenue. Our violation according to the enforcer is swerving ... but later on he said that we did not follow the traffic sign that says "vehicles at inner lane should turn left". Actually we did see the sign and we were going to make a left turn at San Miguel Avenue but when we saw the cars in front of us just switched to the inside lane of the supposed to be opposite lane (a counter flow scheme to give way to motorists going to SM megamall), we thought it was just fine to remain in our lane ... a big mistake because we were stopped by the traffic enforcer.
At first I made an appeal to the officer telling him that we are not familiar with the route and it is our first time to drive in this area but he told us that it would be unfair for the other motorists whom they had apprehended before us ... he even showed us the two driver's license he was holding.
Sensing that the Pasig traffic enforcer won't listen to our appeal, I told him to just give us a ticket and I'll make the payment to their office on Monday but he discouraged us to get the ticket because it will just be time consuming and he have to confiscate my husband's driver's license ... instead he offered us to just pay the penalty to him at half the price and he will be the one to pay it to their office and the good thing about it is that he will not confiscate the driver's license.
Haven't been with this kind of situation before, we thought it is how it works and so we agreed with what he was suggesting. The enforcer told us that the penalty for our violation (ignoring a traffic sign) is 1,000 pesos so we just have to pay him 500 pesos and it will be okay, he showed us a smaller ticket which I thought was a receipt which he will give us but after he received the 500 peso bill he made a sign that we can go. I called him and I asked for the receipt but he said that there's no receipt needed and the ticket he just filled-up will be submitted to their office.
This is where I came to my senses ... this is not right ... I insisted that he give us a receipt and his name. I'm trying to read his name tag but it was hidden with a strap of a sling bag or part of their uniform? ... I'm not sure.
Since the enforcer won't give us a receipt and his name, I told him to return the money and just give us the ticket instead ... that time a man wearing a white shirt riding a motorcycle parked at the back of our car and the enforcer talked to him.
After a while, the enforcer went back to us, gave back the 500 peso bill and said that since he already filled up the other ticket he will generate a wrong report if he will issue us the other ticket (the real one), so he asked if we can just pay 100 pesos so he can cancel the other ticket and we can go ... being late for our appointment, I gave in to what he said ... I know it was wrong but just to end the situation, I gave him 100 pesos.
I searched the internet and I learned that the offense we committed was only due for a 150 pesos penalty and the way the Pasig traffic enforcer apprehended us was not within their standard operating procedure, he was supposed to introduce his name when he approached us.
Here is the link for the Philippines Traffic Violation with their corresponding penalties and the link for the standard operating procedure a traffic enforcer has to follow in apprehending traffic violators.
We have learned our lesson, so from now on, I will keep a copy of these documents in the car. If you own a car, it is really a must that you know the rules of the road and your rights as a motorist.
I respect the traffic enforcers because I know they got a tough job out there but I should be ready for those who abuse their power and make money from unsuspecting motorists just like us ... this is our first time to encounter this situation and I know this will be the last ... we will arm ourselves with proper knowledge and if ever we'll be flagged down again for a certain violation, I'll make sure that the money I'll pay will be going to the proper authorities.