MMDA ‘buddy’ assigned per tow crew as complaints rise
Armed with tablet computers and traffic violation tickets, around 30 traffic constables of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) were deployed along the Mabuhay lanes on Friday to serve as “buddies” of towing crews accredited by the agency.
Being a buddy connotes a friendship, but the MMDA personnel are actually tasked to monitor the conduct of the towing teams following recent complaints of extortion and other abuses.
Cris Saruca, head of the MMDA’s Traffic Discipline Office, said the new arrangement was part of the reorganization of its towing operations after a number of motorists whose vehicles were towed alleged that some towing crewmen demanded grease money.
“Each tow truck will now be accompanied by a traffic constable,” Saruca said. “They will become the buddy of each tow truck, one is to one.”
If an illegally parked vehicle is found and the owner is present, the traffic constable will issue a ticket and the vehicle will not be towed, he said.
If the vehicle is unattended, the traffic aide will use the tablet to take a picture of the vehicle and send the image to the MMDA Metrobase through text message or e-mail. The transmitted data will include the time and location, as well as other details about the vehicle, the towing crew and the tow truck involved.
Metrobase would then send the traffic constable a reference number and a “clearance to tow.”
“Once you give the reference number, there is no way there will be talks (between the crew and the motorist) like: ‘Let me go, I’ll give you money,’” Saruca said. The reference number will also be sent to the impounding area, where the receiving staff will wait for the tow truck with that number.
The start of the buddy system coincided with the launch of the iTow app, which MMDA chair Emerson Carlos said would give motorists “extra protection against illegal towing operations.”
Victor Nuñez, head of the MMDA’s towing and impounding unit, said the app, which can be downloaded for free in iOS and Android systems through the PureForce Citizen application, allows motorists to verify if a towing company is accredited by the agency.
With the app, Nuñez said, there will no longer be “overpricing” since it also shows the exact distance from the spot where the vehicle is towed to the impounding area. “So when you get there, you already know exactly how much you have to pay.”
Saruca added that Metrobase can also monitor all the accredited tow trucks through the app. MMDA personnel can thus dispatch the tow truck nearest to a vehicle that must be impounded.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.