Taxi ‘spray’ no drug, just ‘fabric conditioner’
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has suspended the operation of one of the eight taxis whose drivers are facing complaints for allegedly spraying chemicals to make female passengers drowsy and easier to rob or abduct.
The board also decided to hand the case over to the police for further investigation. This was despite the explanation given by a driver and his operator that the supposedly sleep-inducing chemical was just a brand of fabric conditioner meant to dispel foul odors inside the cab.
LTFRB Chair Winston Ginez said a hearing held by the board Wednesday morning had a woman narrating her “ordeal’’ in one such cab. It was the same woman who recounted the experience in a social media post that recently went viral.
But out of the eight taxi operators summoned by the LFTRB, only five showed up, including the one who runs the taxi that the woman complained about.
“She narrated her ordeal during the hearing but the operator of the taxi explained that what the driver sprayed inside the vehicle was just fabric conditioner,’’ Ginez told the Inquirer in an interview.
Smelled like vanilla
In her Facebook post, the complainant recalled taking a Dad’z taxicab (UVW 243) sometime in September on Timog Avenue, Quezon City. She asked the driver to take her to Manila.
As they reached Quezon Avenue, the driver adjusted the air conditioning system to lower the temperature and then sprayed something into the vent as he maneuvered on a U-turn slot, she said.
As the driver rolled the window down, she caught a whiff of what he had sprayed, which smelled like vanilla. She then remembered a similar incident wherein a passenger was allegedly drugged by a taxi driver—and the thought prompted her to alert a friend with a text message containing the cab’s license number.
She said she started to feel dizzy, with her legs weakening and her body growing numb. “I was having difficulty breathing. I opened the window and saw a gasoline station” where she asked the driver to drop her off, she said in her post.
But according to Elena Enciso, the Dad’z taxi operator, the driver identified as TJ Rely merely sprayed fabric conditioner on the air-con vent since the car’s interior tended to smell musty whenever it rained.
“(Enciso) said the driver just did it because some passengers complain of foul odors when they get into the cab,” the LTFRB chair said.
Ginez said the board ordered the preventive suspension of the Dad’z taxi unit for 30 days, for the woman’s complaint to undergo further investigation by the Quezon City police.
The board also ordered the operator to surrender the cab’s license plate and submit a formal reply to the complaint within 10 days.
“We also required the taxi operator to submit the license of the driver as well as his employment files for referral to the Kamuning (QC) police station so they could further investigate and possibly file a criminal complaint against the driver,” he said.
A second hearing on the complaints against seven other taxis was set for
“Only five operators of the eight taxi companies facing complaints attended. The three other taxis could not be found in their (operators’) listed addresses,” Ginez noted.
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