Friday, November 16, 2018
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‘NO STRINGS ATTACHED’

MMDA: No special treatment for Grab drivers despite gift of 100 body cams

MUTUAL PROTECTION The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority says the new body cameras will protect its enforcers from angry motorists, and motorists from mulcting enforcers. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Traffic enforcers deployed to the country’s busiest thoroughfare now have an extra pair of eyes to help them catch erring motorists, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Monday.

This was after Grab Philippines donated 100 body cameras emblazoned with the MMDA seal and below it, the transport network company’s unmistakable, curvilinear green logo.

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MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia sought to temper fears, however, that the high-resolution, China-made cameras would entitle Grab drivers to special treatment from the agency.

“Let’s not put malice into it,” Garcia told reporters, adding: “There are private sectors who really want to help because when traffic frees up, they also benefit.”

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The president of a commuters’ group also welcomed the donation, saying it would be “beneficial to all stakeholders involved.” But at the same time, she called on the terms of the endowment to be made clear.

“We know that when there are donations, people wonder, ‘What do they want?’” said Maricor Akol, head of the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection.

“So there are no lingering doubts, the deed of donation must state clearly that there are no strings attached,” Akol told the Inquirer.

Part of Grab’s CSR efforts

Grab’s public affairs head, Leo Emmanuel Gonzales, said the donation, which was part of the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, would “not in any way protect erring Grab drivers.”

“The fact that we offered this as a donation, we are putting our foot forward in saying please, go ahead, if there are any erring drivers under Grab, then apprehend them by all means,” Gonzales stressed.

If drivers who violate traffic rules introduce themselves as Grab employees and are allowed to walk free, it will be caught on camera and MMDA enforcers will face the consequences, Garcia warned.

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“These cameras will bolster transparency and protect enforcers who are cursed at, fought with or injured,” he added. “For motorists, it will protect them from enforcers who ask for bribes.”

The body cameras, costing around P9,000 each, will cover only a small fraction of the MMDA’s 2,000-strong bevy of traffic enforcers.

Garcia expressed hope, however, that more donations from the private sector would enable at least half of them to be equipped with body cameras this year. The MMDA does not have enough money to buy the equipment for its men, he said.

The Grab-donated cameras would likely be distributed to enforcers assigned to Edsa this week after they undergo training, Garcia added.

According to Gonzales, the cameras were “very easy to use.” He said the LCD-equipped devices with a battery life of 12 hours would produce high-quality video and voice recordings, even at night.

The MMDA added that the cameras would record nonstop and enforcers would be asked to explain any gaps in the footage.

Speedy apprehension process

Aside from reinforcing transparency, body cameras could also help decongest various choke points throughout Metro Manila by speeding up apprehensions, according to Akol.

“Now, when violators are caught, they move to the side and hog the lane. With body cameras, it’s a swift transaction; no questions asked,” Akol said.

Garcia said the footage captured by body cameras would be regularly reviewed to spot misdeeds committed by both enforcers and motorists.

“I’m giving a warning to motorists: If you do something wrong, don’t make any attempt to bribe [the enforcer],” the MMDA official added. “You are testing [their] personality and honesty. Let’s help them change.”

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TAGS: erring drivers, Grab, Jojo Garcia, MMDA traffic enforcers, special treatment, TNCs, Transportation Network Companies
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