I know I have been absent lately with reviews. And to think my next post is still unrelated to reviews. I have to let this out before the day ends. I have to share this my experience today, in a more detailed manner. I was able to share this already in my personal Facebook account, and with my personal twitter account, as it happened.
But I feel like I should share it here as well. In case something happens. You’ll never know. It’s something I learned from Senator Miriam during the Napoles trial: Make it known to public. Make a testimony. After, they can’t touch you and your loved ones since it will be known. Also, it’s better to be paranoid than to be sorry. So here it goes.
Who knew this is such a popular modus from Makati Anti Smoke Belching Unit?
Note: If you’re not living in the Philippines, and/or uninterested with how the corrupt system works here, move to the topic before or after this.
Incident: Random Emission Testing Conducted by Makati Officials in accordance with the Clean Air Act
Date and Time of Incident: November 9, 2013 (Saturday); Between 2-3PM
Location of Incident: Under the second elevated U-turn (coming from Bonifacio Global City), C5 – Northbound, Metro Manila, Philippines
Details of Incident:
My brother and I were headed back north after coming from S&R, BCG branch. We were tasked to buy pizza in S&R for our sister’s birthday. My brother was the driver and I was seated behind the passenger seat with the 2 boxes of pizza on my left. As we passed by the second elevated u-turn, we got flagged down by two of those Makati officials (in green shirt, in his mid-20’s, and the other in a black collared shirt, also in his mid-20’s), along with other cars (rather old cars). The officer asked for my brother’s license and a copy of the vehicle’s OR/CR (vehile was a Crosswind, and running on diesel) for information, and he explained (in Tagalog) why we got flagged down, “Emission testing lang (For emission testing only)“. My brother complied, while I searched for the photocopy of the vehicle’s OR/CR. When my brother was talking to the guy in green shirt, I made to a point I took his photo in a visible manner (within 5 minutes of the incident). Why? He didn’t even introduced himself when we were flagged down. So he replied threateningly, “Sige, video niyo pa ‘yan. Tutuluyan ko kayo (Go ahead, take a video. I’ll make it harder for you.)“. I initially want to get a video, but my phone’s already low in battery. So I posted it on my personal twitter account right away, just in case something happens.
The guy in green shirt
They asked us to move to the side, and line up for the emission testing. I phoned in my mom since this isn’t the first time our vehicle got flagged down for the same reason. In fact, it was the second time. My dad got flagged down on the same location, with the same vehicle few months back. So this time, we were ready. Information ready. My mom provided us information on what to do and not do, what to say, etc. We also recalled what my dad told us when he experienced the incident and what he should have done. But still! Experiencing it yourself is very scary.
As we wait in line, we noticed that the 2 vehicles in front of us (rather old looking models, also running in diesel), failed the emission test they conducted since they took their back plate numbers. Also, note that a guy in yellow (the licensed emission officer, according to himself) did the tests on the vehicles’ drivers’ behalf.
On our turn, the guy in green gave us back my brother’s license and the vehicle’s photocopied registration. He then asked the guy in yellow shirt to come over. The guy in yellow shirt stood by the driver’s door, indirectly telling my brother to let him do the emission test (stepping on the gas of the car). My brother and I invoked our right that he cannot go in the vehicle since it is our private property (yes, according to the law, they are not allowed to go in the vehicle without a warrant, since it will be considered as trespassing, a criminal offense. The vehicle you are in, acquired legally, is considered as your private property – like a house. If you let them in the vehicle, then it is not considered trespassing since you volunteered them to do so). The yellow shirt guy then moved to the passenger side and insisted again. We again invoked our right. With that, he walked to his group (under the trees, there are at least 6-7 of them in total: 2 guys in yellow shirt, 2 guys in black shirt and 2-3 guys in green shirt) then walked back to us. The guy in yellow then told us, “Ah, ikaw nalang? Marunong ka naman di ba? Apakan mo hangang singko [rpm]. (Ah. So you’ll do it? You know how to do it, right? Step on the gas until it reaches 5 rpm)“. We then replied (in tagalog), “According to the DOE regulation, the maximum allowable to this vehicle is up to 3 [rpm].” With that, he turned his back and said annoyingly, “Sige, sige. (Ok, ok.)”
On his signal, my brother stepped on the gas until it reaches 3rpm, as what you would do on a normal emission test. So we performed it according the law.
After a little while, the guy in green came back again, his face looked rather annoyed and said, “Dahil ayaw niyo magparticipate, wala kami nakuha. (Because you didn’t want to participate, we didn’t get anything.)” I had to correct his statement, it’s not true. So I replied (in tagalog), “We participated. We followed based on the rules set.” To which he replied, “Wala nga kami nakuhang usok! (We didn’t get any smoke!)” Of course, this vehicle was well-maintained. How can we get the car registered if it wasn’t in the first place? After his statement, we then asked (in tagalog), “May we have your identification card and mission order?” Our remark startled him and replied more annoyed and slight fear, “Pinabayaan na nga kayo. Hingin niyo pa? (I let you off already. And you still will ask for it?)“. Ok, so with that, we left the spot. We didn’t pay for anything, as most of the stories ended nor had our plates removed. I just hope the ones behind us followed suit.
Some facts over the incident:
- According to implementing rules and regulations of the Clean Air Act (Republic Act 8749), they should only conduct the session mentioned above Mondays to Fridays ONLY. Unless they have the mission order that they are officially asked to do it also on weekends.
- They would want to perform the test themselves to make sure your car will fail.
- When asked to pump the gas till 5 rpm, there will definitely black smoke coming off the vehicle, thus making you a violator. It will also ruin your car. That’s why there are maximum limits set within the IRR.
- The emission test should be conducted as how it is conducted during renewal of your registration. It is also stipulated in the IRR.
- The guy in green shirt’s threat to me when I got his photo, technically I can file a case against him.
- The guy in green shirt’s hesitation to provide identification card and mission order is a red flag. They don’t want to be identified. I wonder why. Hmmm….
- Ask them to show you their certification of the device and the tester (TESDA certified). For the others, certified/authorized ID, etc.
- Ask for proof if you are a smoke-belcher from them (like photo of your car emitting black smoke)
- It is really prevalent. Here are some forum links on the topic: http://www.pinoyexchange.com/forums/showthread.php?t=564808&page=3 , http://www.topgear.com.ph/board/index.php?topic=16944.0 , http://www.thelobbyist.biz/perspectives/less-government/item/114-anti-smoke-belching-harassment
So what’s the lesson? Let me enumerate them:
- Be alert and pay close attention to the incident.
- When flagged down and was asked for the license and registration, ALWAYS ask for the officer’s identification card and mission order, graciously, in exchange. Never give your license and car’s OR CR. ONLY SHOW IT, since they can only take your license if and only if you are involved in an accident. This is for your protection. This is something that we should have done in the first place. Ask other certifications, legal documents (like for the tester, etc), when necessary.
- Know your rights as citizen and the governing traffic rules. They cannot enter your vehicle since it is your private property (unless with a legitimate warrant). Know the IRR (Implementing rules and regulations) of rules specific when driving vehicles (such as the Clean Air Act, Traffic Rules and Violations, etc). This works very well if you are very sure you didn’t commit any violation.
- Keep a copy of the traffic rules, laws covering private vehicles, etc in your vehicle. Highlight the important points and make sure you are updated. Keep them close with the insurance papers, copies of vehicle registration and photocopy of your driver’s license.
- Talk with a calm head and voice. Show confidence (not over, ok?) and look as if you know what you’re doing and saying. Even if you’re nervous also. They will not be pushy if you show you know what you are saying or doing. In fact, they will be nervous and defensive.
- Make sure your mobile phone is charged and know who to contact on emergency cases. You may take pictures, video of the incident.
So there. Hope this helps you folks out there. Please this share to your family and friends. This abuse of power has been running for months since the implementation of the random smoke emission test. So I’m sharing to you our experience so that you will know what to do when the time comes. It is also prevalent in Pasay as well.
Let us show them that they cannot underestimate the people and push us citizens around. It’s time that we should step up and fight for our rights (especially if you are sure that you are innocent).
I would like to thank our parents for being on the other side of the phone line, guiding us. Even pulling in some reinforcements, just in case. We do have connections, and will use it should the need arises. Thank you to my brother for keeping a calm head, and to our guardian angels for watching over us (and continue doing so).