I admit. I’ve been a lurker to this site for some months, especially while I was away back in the US on business for six months. I always got a chuckle out of the experiences here because I know most of them intimately. Now that I’m back in the Philippines, I thought it might be useful to give some good advice about dealing with the MMDA pretend-a-cops, or any of the other “police” they have around here.
You are doing nothing more than navigating your way through the worst drivers in the world. Around you are people making illegal U-Turns, cutting people off, failing to use blinkers, and breaking every other common sense law of traffic imaginable. But, because you don’t look Filipino, and someone with a blue shirt or a lime green shirt is feeling hungry, you get pulled over. Already, you’re groaning, preparing to have that painful effort of trying to explain common sense in English to an greedy idiot who doesn’t come close to understanding you, even if he wanted to. Welcome to driving in the Philippines.
You are more armed than they are
What these MMDA posers rely upon is the notion that you are clueless about the rules. They expect that you just went down to LTO and got a quickie license. However, as I have come to find repeatedly, they can’t stand up to the scrutiny of an informed Expat. The more you know (and the info I’m about to give you) will get you out of just about any ticket….with only an enjoyable amount of yelling and a lot of laughing as you drive away from their confused looks.
The Big One
Ok, here’s the #1 way to get out of almost any ticket. It’s actually a law the LTO came up with because their very own cops go out during off hours in uniform and give out fake tickets. How’s that for ironic? It’s called the “Order Of The Day”. Yep, just like it sounds like, it’s a letter that’s supposed to be given out every single day that says the following:
- They have permission to be at that location
- They have permission to be at that location at that specific time
- That they have permission to give out that specific kind of ticket at that location at that time.
As I mentioned, they are supposed to get one of these before every shift. DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH THE GENERAL ORDERS THEY WILL TRY TO SHOW YOU. That document is issued once per year, so just look at the date on it and correct them.
According to LTO regulation, if they do NOT have their “Order Of The Day”, they are not authorized to give you any ticket whatsoever, let alone take your license.
I have personally gotten out of dozens of tickets just using that fact alone.
Other Helpful Rules
- Only LTO personnel (grey shirts) can give you a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.
- There is no such thing as “Swerving”, or anything related. This especially goes for any claims that you did not enter a “right turn only” lane in time.
- No more than ONE officer or MMDA can be present when stopping you. If you see any others nearby your car, you can tell them that they’re in violation themselves, and you will file a complaint. That helps a lot.
- Call them on the racial/bribe thing. Tell them that you will file a complaint. Even if they didn’t ask for money, they get really “offended” and deny it, thus giving you an edge in the “discussion”.
- Commonwealth Ave. in Manila is about the only place that uses radar guns, which also take a photo of your car and license plate. Don’t speed there. The ticket is binding.
- I have heard that there are some police officers who will shoot you on site for arguing with them, and they know how to make a body disappear. This likelihood would seem to be lessened by having witnesses. Try to ride with a passenger when possible, and ONLY stop in very busy places with lots of traffic.
- LTO and PNP have very strict rules about checkpoint stops. Most notably, it has to have a VERY visible sign indicating that it’s a checkpoint and what it’s for. If you just see a bunch of police standing around trying to stop people, and there’s no checkpoint signage anywhere, keep going.
Hope that helps people here as much as it’s helped me numerous times. Granted, it’s sometimes taken me an hour to get out of a ticket, but I’ve never given up my license, and aside from that one ticket on Commonwealth Ave, I’ve never gotten failed to get out of a ticket/bribe attempt.