Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Brush with the Law

A friend of mine, let’s call her “C”, was waiting for a taxi near her home. There were several other people there waiting for taxis but she had been there first. She finally managed to hail a cab and had already gotten in the back seat when an MMDA traffic guy [1] stopped her and told her that he had hailed that taxi for two women nearby that he pointed to. C said she was the one who had hailed the taxi, but the traffic guy politely but firmly insisted that she get out of the car. Indignant, C took note of the traffic guy’s name plate and went on her way.

As soon as she got to the office, C composed a letter of complaint to the MMDA director and faxed it to their office as soon as she was able. Having coursed her complaint through several different offices, it was promptly handled and a hearing with the traffic guy was scheduled during the next week.

C and I talked about it several times during the week before her hearing. She had asked me before sending the complaint whether it was a good idea or not, or if she should just let the incident go. I said no, she should proceed with her complaint. The traffic guy was clearly in the wrong, and she at least deserved an explanation regarding whether or not MMDA traffic guys are allowed to hassle people who are getting into taxis. Some people were worried that the traffic guy might be vindictive and might try to get back at her in some way. C is a pretty strong and brave woman though, and she wouldn’t back down even if that was a likely possibility. What did concern her was whether her complaint might cause someone to lose their job. I told her not to worry, at worst he’ll be asked to apologize and explain, and that will be that.

The day of the hearing arrived, I wanted to go with her to the MMDA office since I was curious how things would proceed, but I had a meeting an hour or so afterwards and I didn’t want to risk being late, and besides she already had her boyfriend with her for support. I’m told that the traffic guy made some lame excuse that there was some sort of emergency and that’s why the two women needed the taxi. But he apologized to C anyway and promised to be more circumspect in the future. C got a written apology and came away satisfied, having fought city hall and won, sort of.

She asked me if I think she wasted her time. I told her that what she did was a good thing; every so often someone has to complain against people who may or may not be abusing their position, if only to keep such people honest. And she got to witness firsthand how the government handles things, if ever she gets into a more serious situation with the government later on, she has this experience to draw upon.

My take? I’m guessing the two women were friends/acquaintances of the traffic guy and they were impatient to get a cab. In true macho Filipino fashion, traffic guy offers to help them out. And that would have been fine, really. That is, until he started harassing another commuter to get it done.

I’m glad I wasn’t there at the hearing though. If I had heard that lame excuse I might have done my best Phoenix Wright impression and shout “Objection!”


  • [1] I'm not sure whether they're called "officers" or not.
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