MANILA — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday suspended the operations of its own Anti-Jaywalking Unit (AJU) following its discovery of a scheme perpetrated by three personnel from the unit.
In a press briefing at the MMDA office in Makati City, MMDA General Manager Jose Arturo “Jojo” Garcia said Joanna Eclarinal, AJU deputy for operations, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly issuing falsified receipts to violators settling their offenses.
Meanwhile, Eclarinal’s cohorts, Jonathan Natividad and Frederick Arucan, remain at large.
All three suspects are facing falsification and syndicated estafa charges.
“Tinatanong namin pang-ilang beses na ‘to ginawa, lagi niya sinasabi first time. Pero kahapon, sa harap ng piskal, sinabi niyafirst-time, first time sa booklet na ‘yon. So just imagine booklet ang pinapagawang fake (We asked her how many times they have done this, she always said it was her first. But yesterday, in front of a prosecutor, she said it was her first time using that booklet),” Garcia said, citing results from Eclarinal’s interview with the MMDA legal division.
He emphasized the suspects may have collected a large amount of money in their scheme based on the average number of jaywalking tickets issued by the AJU and on the period the scheme has been running.
“Just imagine ang average namin 90 to 100 hundred a day ang apprehension. Isipin niyo ilan ang hindi pinasok diyan sa PHP500? Sa sampu na lang that’s PHP5,000 a day. We’re talking about PHP150,000 a month. Ilang piraso ang isang booklet? One hundred (Just imagine our average jaywalking apprehension is 90 to 100 a day. Think of how many PHP500 were not paid through the proper channels. Ten tickets, that’s PHP5,000 a day. We’re talking about PHP150,000 a month. How many receipts in one booklet? One hundred),” Garcia said.
The MMDA official said there might be a syndicate within the AJU and explained that the suspects were receiving payments for jaywalking tickets in their office at the seventh floor instead of the MMDA’s treasurer and afterward issue a falsified receipt.
“We think na hindi lang ito isang tao, na sindikato. What they’re doing is nag-fake sila ng resibo for PHP500, ang jaywalking natin isPHP500 ang penalty. Ang ginagawa nila, nagpapabayad sila sa taas, nagi-issue sila ng resibo na peke (We think it’s not only one person but a syndicate. What they’re doing is they falsified a receipt for PHP500, which is the fine for jaywalking. They ask for payment in their office above and they issue a fake receipt),” Garcia said.
The MMDA invited the national Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the extent of corruption in the AJU and to gather facts that would enable them to establish policies meant to avoid similar occurrences from happening in the future.
“Talagang ni-request natin sila para makita natin ano ba talaga, hanggang saang level ‘yung ganitong klase ng corruption. And then also, we can do policy para maiwasan yung mga ganito (We requested the NBI’s help to see what this really is, up to what level the corruption reaches. And then also, we can formulate policies to prevent these things from happening),”
Following the closure of the AJU office, its 48 workers including AJU chief Salvador Galang, were put on floating status and temporarily housed at the MMDA arena pending investigation by officials from the NBI.
“Hindi natin alam kung yung 48 na yun magkakasabwat ba. So we stopped first, wala muna nanghuhuli ng jaywalking (We don’t know if those 48 are accomplices. So we stopped first, for now nobody from AJU would capture jaywalking violators) while we’re investigating on this one,” Garcia said.
He clarified their other traffic enforcers and those from local government units (LGUs) would still be active against jaywalking violators.
All members of the AJU not found criminally liable will take part in a seven-day back-to-basics seminar next week, Garcia added. Raymond Carl Dela Cruz / PNA – northboundasia.com