If it looks fishy, it probably is.
Over the weekend, a reader wrote us about an experience he had when visited Quiapo in the City of Manila.
He parked his vehicle, a Toyota Hilux, alongside other similarly parked vehicles on Quezon Boulevard just beside the Quiapo Church. He was immediately approached by a legitimate-looking parking attendant which had a booklet of pay parking tickets; the generic kind that are generally issued at open parking spaces.
The motorist presented the supposed parking ticket to the enforcers, but they merely stated it was an unauthorized ticket, bearing no important details such as the name of the company and/or barangay that issued it. And so continued the towing ordeal.
Here is his narration of events in full:
We arrived at the parking spot along the road, and there were many cars properly parked so we thought it was OK to park. Before I stepped out of the car, I was handed a pay parking ticket, so it looked and felt legitimate. I paid for the fee, and then went about my business.
We went around Quiapo for maybe 2 hours and when we came back, only my car was left and they were about to hook it up to a truck to tow.
Instead of having the car towed, they said that we can just drive it to the impound lot. The enforcer asked to have one of my companions to ride with the tow truck because one of the tow guys will ride with me. I said no, but they can ride at the back of the Hilux.
We left to go to impounding. They made me drive with no license. Then I realized something: Why is one of the tow company holding my license, so I asked the enforcer to hold my license, not them.
When we got to the impounding area, apparently three of us were “towed”. There were actually two other cars beside us in that area where we parked, but they were not there at the impound lot.
One of the other cars had two ladies in it, and they were furious because they felt harassed because one of the two truck guys rode with them in their car.
The other guy asked that he not be towed because his car, a Ford EcoSport could get problems from its sensors if towed improperly. The tow guys and the enforcer even bragged that they will pay for damages if something breaks. When they were at the impounding area, all the lights on the gauges were on like a Christmas tree.
One of the more arrogant enforcers insisted that they ticketed the 2 other cars, which is why they were not there. But when we asked, they could not produce duplicate copies of the traffic violation ticket or the Ordinance Violation Recepit (OVR). They said that the ticket booklet is with their fellow enforcer who wasnt there.
The reader was eventually able to pull out his vehicle after paying a PhP 1,500 “discounted” fee for the whole affair.
What is interesting, however, is that the payment wasn't made to the local government office or traffic office: the payment was made to the towing company and the towing company alone. There was no government receipt or OVR issued by the traffic officers of the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau (they were not MMDA) for the parking violation.
We raised the issue with the Department of Transportation, to which their Director for Communications, Ms. Goddes Libiran, stated that she will forward our inquiry to the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (I-ACT). We are still waiting for an update on the matter.
The lesson is clear: always be wary of places with questionable parking and be on the look out for no parking signs. And if you're issued with some kind of street parking ticket or receipt, make sure it's a legitimate one.