Prior to May 2019, motorists plying the streets of Pasig in Metropolitan Manila complained about the many traffic cops in the city who extorted money from them.
The modus operandi of those cops was simple.
They hid at corners, away from public view. Then they flagged down surprised motorists and held them to account for a range of offenses, anywhere from non-compliance with the number code restriction (based on the license plates of the vehicle), to using a mobile phone while driving (a common accusation), and even for imagined offenses (making an illegal turn when there is no road sign prohibiting it).
After sensing that the motorist is in a rush and has no time to argue, those cops would cite a litany of other possible traffic violations committed by the motorist and the heavy fines that go with those infractions. They would let the motorist go, but only after they’ve extorted money from the distraught fellow.
Those rogue cops operated their racket day and night. Their favorite intersections were those located at the northbound lane of Meralco Avenue corner Henry Javier Drive; the southbound lane of Shaw Boulevard after Meralco Avenue; and the westbound lane of Ortigas Avenue after the road leading to Green Meadows Village.
Police visibility is the best deterrent against motorists who find it tempting to violate traffic regulations. When traffic enforcers are not conspicuously present at road intersections, the temptation to breach traffic rules becomes irresistible to some motorists.
Those rogue cops exploited that human frailty to the hilt.
Instead of making their presence felt at road intersections and, thereby, discourage potential violations of traffic regulations, those corrupt policemen did the opposite — they hid, and they preyed on those motorists who took a chance and violated traffic rules, and on those who may have had a good reason to breach the rules (as in emergencies) but did not have the time to reason out with the cops.
Those corrupt policemen were called the “blue boys” of city hall on account of the color of their uniform, and their touted connections to power brokers in the city government.
Complaints against those “blue boys” reached the office of then Mayor Robert “Bobby” Eusebio of the Eusebio political dynasty that made Pasig politics a family business for years. All the complaining motorists got from Eusebio was the lip service that city hall “will look into the matter.”
When the youthful Vico Sotto won election as Pasig City Mayor in May 2019, motorists had good reason to rejoice. One of the first things that Sotto did was to get rid of the “blue boys” who were known to be part of the racket, and warned those who were suspected to be in on the same. Thereafter, the streets of Pasig were clear of those robbers in police uniform, for a while.
Alas! It looks like those street leeches are back in business today at their usual haunts along Meralco Avenue and Shaw Boulevard, and Mayor Sotto does not seem to be aware of their return.
Worse, these new rogue cops have an additional haunt — the corner of the westbound lane of Shaw Boulevard and Upper Canley Road (also known as Christian Route, near the motel zone) — where they gather after sunset.
Strategically “stationed” at their innocent-looking shindig in front of a bank on Shaw Boulevard near the corner at Christian Route, these uniformed vultures wait for motorists going up from Lower Canley Road to Christian Route, and on to Shaw Boulevard.
When the motorists make a right turn to the westbound lane of Shaw Boulevard, the cops flag them down even when there is no moving traffic along Shaw. The rest is… you know what.
Once the curfew (imposed because of the quarantine) begins, accosted motorists become very easy prey, even if they have valid reasons to still be in the streets.
The motorists are complaining again, Mayor Sotto! These new rogue cops in the streets of Pasig are giving you a bad reputation.
In line with public interest, this newspaper will monitor developments regarding this controversy.