I had to go to a meeting yesterday in the company car, which also happens to be coded out to drive, more popularly known as “coding”. It was the only available car and I didn’t have enough money for a taxi. The various sub-cities of Metro-Manila have developed a policy in coordination with the MMDA that basically states that you are only allowed to drive your car on certain days. On days that you are not allowed to drive, the hours are from 7am-7pm in Makati City, the central business district. In the rest of the sub-cities, the hours are from 7-10am and then again from 3-7pm.
So we began driving through Quezon City and had to go around Makati to reach Malate by the ocean since it was 1:30pm. Everything appeared to be going smoothly when all of a sudden a traffic enforcer waved us over to the side of the road. I immediately knew what he was going to say. “Ma’am, you know you can’t drive today, you are coding.” I fired back that it was 1:30 and I still had 1.5 hours to get to where I’m going. “No ma’am,” he said. “The rules for this area have changed from 7am-7pm as well.” He hesitated his response just enough to make me think he was trying to get a bribe to let me go instead of issuing a ticket. I further suspected that he was bluffing and just fishing to see if I’d respond. I immediately snatched my ID back and said, “I’ve never heard about this change! I was just at the LTO where the head of the LTO himself told me I can drive anywhere else but Makati from 10-3!” He continued to argue. I fired back at him and demanded that he stop arguing with me, give me a ticket, and let me go. He continued to argue with me, talking nonsense to get me riled up. It worked. I then demanded that he give me his name which he pointed to his nametag. I took off my sunglasses and looked him straight in the eye, unflinching. “Mr. XXXX (I can’t remember it), I demand that you either give me a ticket or let me go. If you give me a ticket, I’m going to bring it to your MMDA head office and tell them how you, Mr. XXXX do not know the laws you are enforcing and you still issue tickets without merit. Furthermore, I’m going to copy that letter to the head of the LTO and describe to him what you said that basically makes him look like a liar! Is that what you want, Mr. XXXX?”
As I talked he began to visibly shake and tremble until finally he gave a weak smile, backed away from the car, shook his head “no”, and let me go on my way. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Philippines is that you should know the law inside and out. Even if you have very little idea of what you are talking about, at least be able to B.S. to make it look like you do! J
February 2nd, 2005
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