Four more fake traffic enforcers fall into dragnet

manilastandard.net | by: Bill Casas | September 29, 2017

 

Four more bogus traffic enforcers extorting money from unsuspecting truckers—one being a notorious repeat offender—were arrested by operatives of the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau in the continuing operation against scalawags ordered by Mayor Joseph Estrada.

Estrada lauded MTPB led by Dennis Alcoreza for the arrest of Benjamin Baliuag, 33; Edard Canares, 32; Demetrio Cruz, and another unnamed suspect, bringing to 10 the number of fake traffic enforcers arrested by the city’s traffic unit since May.

A fifth suspect, identified as Rogelio Balatbat, managed to escape the dragnet conducted along Taft Avenue in Ermita on September 14. He is now the subject of an extensive manhunt, Alcoreza said.

“I commend MTPB for this successful operation. My strict instruction to them is very clear: get rid of these thugs and extortionists tarnishing the image of MTPB and of the city. No let-up,” Estrada said.

The complainant, a cargo truck driver named Herson Bulag, recounted he was driving along Taft Avenue near the corner of United Nations Avenue at 2:30 a.m. of Sept. 14 when three men flagged him down, supposedly for violating the truck ban policy in Taft Avenue.

One of the suspects, who turned out to be Balatbat, was wearing an old MTPB orange uniform, the driver recounted.

Bulag said the three men demanded P1,000 from him but he only gave them P500. But unknown to them, an MTPB team was watching from a distance.

Unfortunately, Balatbat was able to run away when the arresting team pounced on the rogue traffic cops.

All three suspects were former MTPB enforcers during the previous city administration, Alcoreza confirmed.

In separate operations, MTPB operatives also arrested Cruz and another suspect who were victimizing not only truck drivers but also jeepney and taxi drivers.

Alcoreza said they have long been on the trail of Baliuag, who had been arrested in an entrapment last May but was released after being able to post P120,000 bail on charges of robbery-extortion and usurpation of authority.

“We were not surprised at all that he went back to his illegal activity,” Alcoreza said of Baliuag.

“They usually operate at dawn or past midnight, usually along the UN-Taft area and along R-10 in Port Area, where there are many trucks going to and from the pier,” the MTPB chief said in describing the suspects’ modus operandi.

All five suspects, including Balatbat, have been charged with robbery with intimidation (extortion) and usurpation of authority, which Alcoreza said has a corresponding bail of P120,000.

In order to avoid being victimized by these fake enforcers, Alcoreza reminded the public that legitimate MTPB men are on duty from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. only.

After 10 p.m., only selected traffic enforcers with verifiable mission orders are allowed to operate but only on rare special occasions, Alcoreza explained.

“When you are flagged down at night and at dawn, 99 percent that supposed traffic enforcer is fake,” he  stressed.

MTPB operations at nighttime, he added, are done by groups of uniformed traffic enforcers and at well-lighted checkpoints.”