Street (in)justice part 2
A few months ago, I wrote about a friend, Wes Tsai, in my column. He had a small delivery truck which was forcibly towed from his shop front.
His driver was inside the vehicle when a towing crew suddenly descended on his parked truck, forced the waiting driver out of the vehicle, and proceeded to commandeer his delivery vehicle.
The delivery vehicle was parked in front of his shop as another delivery vehicle was making a manoeuvre to leave after making a delivery, and the delivery truck in question had simply moved from the driveway to allow the delivery vehicle inside the shop to exit.
There was a video uploaded on YouTube for everyone to see, but then the authorities (obviously) didn’t bother to do anything.
This incident could be regarded, for all intents and purposes, as qualified theft or car-napping.
And we, the average Filipino motorists, are powerless against these tow trucks that seem to operate above the law with the consent of both local and national governments.
Sadder still was that recently, last June 28, 2017, my friend fell into the same predicament with his delivery truck (ironically, the same one).
When I learned about it, I quickly visited the MMDA’s official website and checked for its implementing rules and regulations regarding towing vehicles (www.mmda.gov.ph/20-faq/2085-towing-and-impounding-faq).
Of particular interest is number 11, which states:
“Are the towing crew allowed to board an attended vehicle?”
This is not allowed. If this happens when the driver is present, this must be taken note of and reported to the MMDA as a violation.
Going back to my friend, this time, his delivery vehicle would not start. They had proceeded to jump-start the vehicle as the street they were located on, Santolan / Boni Serrano Ave. on the San Juan side was a steep descent.
Unfortunately the delivery truck failed to start. As it reached level ground, the team of drivers and shop staff parked it in the Bridgestone Tire Center’s driveway, right beside the street but not actually on it.
The team of drivers and shop personnel went back to their shop, Konstruct Depot, a few meters away to get jumper cables and another vehicle to jump-start the car.
It wasn’t left alone and unattended this time as well, but as if on cue, a towing crew with tow truck identification number BIZ-003 and its crew descended on the delivery truck and proceeded to tow the vehicle.
The driver of the delivery truck called for assistance from his colleagues, and my friend Wes also came over.
They started arguing with the towing crew, but the crew was uncouth, rude and vulgar, almost verbally abusive to my friend and his personnel.
The towing crew was insisting that they should tow the vehicle, even if it was parked on the premises of the Bridgestone Tire Center.
The towing crew were also inappropriately dressed, with the head of the towing crew hanging off a make-shift hammock, shirtless.
No IDs or any proper credentials were on display, nor did the crew even bother to properly introduce and identify themselves.
Number 14 of the MMDA’s Towing FAQ clearly defines how to recognize if a towing service is accredited.
MMDA and those accredited towing services adhere to a strict protocol as mentioned in the procedures above.
Motorists must make sure that the tow truck crew are wearing the prescribed uniforms and clearly display their ID cards.
If unsure, call 136 or check www.facebook.com/MMDAPH/posts/967756373263025 for the list of accredited towing services.
MMDA is rigorous and thorough in its screening and accreditation of towing companies to ensure that motorists are properly responded to.
For any complaints, motorists may file a report on the MMDA Facebook or Twitter page. For urgent matters, they may call the 136 hotline.
I had mentioned previously about how San Juan is a tight, close-knit community.
When the shop personnel of Wheel Gallery/Concept One, who also knew Wes as he is a frequent visitor of Wheel Gallery, saw the commotion, they approached to see what they could do, and signaled a San Juan traffic enforcer to help mediate in the situation.
The towing crew simply ignored the San Juan traffic enforcer and proceeded to tow the vehicle.
They also refused to issue a ticket or TVR, and would not even tell my friend and the rest of the people there as to where they could claim the truck.
My friend, being the patient person that he is, decided to allow them to tow the vehicle as the arrogant towing crew would not budge.
Before the fact that they failed to issue a TVR sank into Wes, and that they never told him where he could claim it, the towing crew left with Wes’ delivery truck being towed.
The worst part? After a few minutes, the same traffic enforcer returned to Wes’ shop to tell him that the towing crew had left his truck unattended a few meters away, seemingly out of spite.
If the traffic enforcer had not told my friend that his delivery truck had been left on the road, then his vehicle would definitely have been a candidate for legitimate towing, possibly even carnapped as the keys were in the car when the towing crew forcibly got the vehicle from him.
MMDA needs to cleanse its roster of accredited towing companies.
It also needs to properly inform towing crews of the dos and don’ts.
And crucially, the towing companies need to follow the guidelines set forth by the MMDA when proceeding to tow vehicles on the road.
There is hope, of course. Gen. Danny Lim, the MMDA’s new chairman, has already issued a statement to “help first, tow later” whenever towing crews encounter stalled vehicles on the road.
We ask MMDA to look into the roster of towing companies, educate them, and cleanse the ranks of those who seemingly operate above the law and ignore the MMDA’s rules and regulations on towing, so as not to terrorize more motorists who admittedly are already having a bad day with their vehicles.
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