The government will launch an “invigorated” campaign against policemen and traffic enforcers who brazenly extort bribes from motorists–particularly those who prey on truckers who transport goods from Manila’s ports.
Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras on Friday said the renewed drive against the kotong cops was reached by government officials, truckers, shippers and port operators during a three-and-a-half hour meeting on Friday.
“We’ve also decided that during these next two weeks, we’re going to be launching also an invigorated anti-kotong operation particularly against those [who]are targeting these trucks because the truckers have said that one of their problems is that [this]illegal and unscrupulous [operation has]jacked up prices,” Almendras noted in a news briefing held after the meeting.
He said the Cabinet had sought help of the police in carrying out the drive.
According to him, a new task force under the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will be formed to go after unscrupulous police officers.
The pointman for the campaign will be Chief Supt. Allen Bantolo, an official from the same unit.
“We are setting up a special head office to ensure that we will be able to respond to [truckers who]will be inappropriately detained or inappropriately arrested,” Almendras said.
Bantolo will make sure that truck movements will be monitored and be allowed to move where they are supposed to, he added.
Almendras said the renewed anti-kotong drive aims to specifically make sure that during the next two weeks, “we want to move as much cargo as we can from the ports.”
Traffic within the port’s vicinity was heavily congested and businessmen have been asking the government to remove thousands of empty container vans stacked in the ports.
Almenrdas said they were informed that many traffic officers who were not appropriately informed about the scheme are taking advantage of the situation, meaning trucks are being stopped and their drivers apprehended and mulcted when they take “express lanes.”
“This morning, [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority] Chairman [Francis] Tolentino met with the traffic enforcement groups of [the 16 cities and one municipality of]Metro Manila. The intention of the meeting was to clarify what is going to happen starting Monday when we tag the trucks that come to the port on Sunday,” the Palace official explained.
He said a good number of importers have agreed to pull out their containers from the ports beginning on Sunday and that policemen and local traffic personnel will be informed of the movement and prevent them from preying on truck drivers.
Almendras called on all ground personnel to be briefed on the developments, saying they are working out the new traffic plan with their offices and main coordinators.
“There will be additional meetings between now and Sunday. And, as I said, the police [are]now on board,” he added.
Kotong, Almendras said, had taken a heavy toll on the trucking business, as shown by records presented to them by truckers.
“[The truckers’] expenses increased. They showed us their basis for saying so,” he said.