Leaders of big transport unions in Mandaluyong today filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against Luisito E. Espinosa, chief of the Traffic and Parking Management Office (TMPO) of Mandaluyong City, and all the traffic enforcers of the TMPO who are under his supervision, to stop what they believe is an attempt to defraud transport workers of hundreds of thousands of pesos every year.
Last December 2008, Espinosa issued a directive requiring all drivers of PUJs, Tricycles and Pedicabs plying Mandaluyong to pay PHP 100 to secure an annual driver’s ID under pain of a fine of not less than PHP 1,000 but not more than PHP 3,000. This directive is purportedly aimed at implementing Ordinance No. 325 that was issued by the Sanguniang Panlunsod of Mandaluyong way back in December 2005.
“The problem is, Ordinance No. 325 never mentioned anything about collecting PHP 100,” Ernesto Cruz, President of Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator sa Starmall, EDSA Crosing at Kalentong Annex (STOMEKA), said.
“Worst, Ordinance No. 325 applies only to drivers of PUJs whose terminals are within the boundaries of Mandaluyong. And yet, Espinosa wanted all PUJ drivers, including those whose route merely traverses Mandaluyong, be included,” Cruz added.
But what makes Espinosa’s directive more questionable is the fact that drivers are required to get their IDs from an organization called Federation of Mandaluyong Drivers’ Association or FEMANDA. Thus whatever is collected through his directive would not accrue to the government
“There is nothing in Ordinance No. 325 that authorizes FEMANDA to issue the ID nor does Espinosa have the power to authorize the same. Clearly, Espinosa is abusing his authority,” Anton Loresca, president of Lagarista Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (LAJODA), declared.
It was estimated that this illegal directive would affect at least 9,400 drivers. This means that FEMANDA stands to gain at least PHP 940,000 or almost a million pesos every year. Why was FEMANDA granted this financial favor?
It was reported that those who are opposing the directive, particularly the members of STOMEKA, LAJODA and P. Victorino, Hulo, Kalemtong Operators and Drivers Association (PVHUKODA), are being harassed and cited by TPMO traffic enforcers. But the transport unions are determined to continue fighting the directive.
“We vow to fight until this illegal directive is rescinded,” Aries C. Chuaquico, Board Member of the PVHUKODA, said. “Our complaint before the Ombudsman is just the beginning. Next we will file a criminal case against Espinosa and his cohorts,” he added.
Between them, STOMEKA, LAJODA and PVHUKODA have at least 600 members. These organizations are affiliated to the National Confederation of Transportworkers Union (NCTU), which in turn is a member of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and the International Transportworkers Federation (ITF) based in London.