On Tuesday, October 23, a video of a driver resisting the apprehension of traffic enforcers went viral on social media.
An unidentified woman was being flagged by officers of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in San Juan because of alleged illegal parking violations. Instead of complying with the officers’ requests to park her vehicle on the sidewalk, things started to get intense.
In the video, MMDA traffic constables were seen blocking the vehicle that was slowly trying to get away from the apprehension. Unfortunately, the footage showed that the driver successfully got away and the video ended there.
Shortly thereafter, MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago said they would seek the help of the Land Transportation Office to suspend or cancel the driver’s license.
This isn’t the first time happened—and this definitely won’t be the last. There’s no shortage of drivers who feel entitled whenever they step inside their cars. From illegal blinkers that feign authority to ignoring actual traffic constables, some people will do anything and everything to squirm their way out of a ticket. However, do you know what will happen to you if you speed off from a traffic enforcer who is about to give you a ticket?
Assault and peppered
The MMDA, whether you like it or not, are persons in authority. If you try to resist or physically assault them in any way, you might be held criminally liable under the law.
According to the Revised Penal Code, there is a provision where civilians can be slapped with criminal charges if they do not comply with an official in any way. Worse, there are far more severe consequences for those who will use force against MMDA traffic enforcers who are on duty.
Those who will harm an enforcer can be sued under Article 148 of the Revised Penal Code. According to the said passage, it counts as a direct assault when the perpetrating parties “attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or resist any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on occasion of such performance.”
What constitutes a direct assault? Any action of defiance against persons in authority should meet the following criteria:
- There is a serious use of force or intimidation to the person in authority, regardless of the weapon used.
- The person in authority is still with the respective government body where he belongs.
- The person in authority defied is identified as such, which means that the offending party knows his role.
- The person in authority is assaulted while performing his duties.
Given the following merits that should be met to qualify for direct assault of a person in authority, it’s now much easier to figure out which is which. If you’re still confused, we’ve got a few examples for you:
- A couple transported by a convoy got flagged by MMDA constables last August in Makati. When they flagged the convoy, they allegedly spat on the enforcers and cursed them. Later on, the bodyguards of the couple assaulted the traffic enforcers until the latter backed off.
- Meanwhile, a prosecutor of the Department of Justice dubbed as the “five-minute girl” tried to contest her vehicle being towed. Unfortunately, the whole scenario turned sour after the pleading turned into a commotion and eventually, physical assault.
Refuse and resist
Meanwhile, if you don’t inflict any harm on the MMDA officers flagging you or any other government agent considered as persons in authority but refuse to cooperate with their procedures, your violation will fall under Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code. The said passage is as follows:
The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who not being included in the provisions of the preceding articles shall resist or seriously disobey any person in authority, or the agents of such person, while engaged in the performance of official duties.
When it comes to the apprehension of MMDA officials, an act will be considered resistance or disobedience to persons in authority if a constable asks you to stop your vehicle and you either refuse to surrender your driver’s license or you ignore their signal altogether.
If you try to run away from traffic enforcers, the MMDA will seek the help of the Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group to apprehend you. From there, it’s just one case on top of another and before the day ends, you will be slapped with a number of cases depending on your behavior. Since you’re no Dominic Toretto, pretty sure you’ll be caught in no time.
Know your rights
Instead of hurting and berating MMDA officials or trying to run away from them, there are better ways to deal with a potential traffic violation you may have committed. To avoid piling charges against you, you should take the following steps instead:
- Stay calm! We know how scary it is to be apprehended by traffic enforcers. However, don’t let your emotions get the best of you when you get flagged. Remain calm and keep an open mind.
- Ask for your infraction. When you roll down your windows, MMDA constables must politely convey to you what your violation is. Until they tell you what your infractions are, you should not show your license card and registration documents.
- Don’t surrender your license outright. Unless you’ve committed some grave violations such as driving against traffic or you’re involved in a vehicular accident, you can refuse to have your license confiscated. If the infractions are light, they will return your license card to you with the ticket of your violation.
- Take a footage of the incident. If the apprehension makes you uncomfortable, take a footage of the encounter with the enforcer using your smartphone or a dashcam. As always, be polite and calmly tell the officer that you will be recording the encounter from that point forward.
- Contest the ticket if possible. When you’ve been awarded a ticket by the MMDA officer, take it and go on your way. However, if you believe that you have a valid contention to the violation, go to the MMDA-Traffic Adjudication Division within seven days and protest the said infraction.
Do you know what’s the best way to avoid a ticket from the MMDA? Start by following the rules and becoming a responsible citizen behind the wheel. After all, there is a proper venue to refute your violations if you know you haven’t committed those.