MMDA suspends personnel involved in mauling of coconut vendor

MANILA — The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) suspended three members of its Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group (SCOG) after they were caught on video beating up a coconut vendor last Friday.

In a memorandum signed by MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim, the three personnel primarily involved in the incident were placed under preventive suspension for 15 days.

The incident that happened March 2 at the vicinity of EDSA-Evangelista footbridge (northbound) in Pasay City, which was caught on video and went viral on social media, showed SCOG members mauling a coconut vendor identified as Romnick Relos during a clearing operation.

The three personnel who are all on job order status were not identified pending investigation of the incident by the legal department of the MMDA. They will also be undergoing a drug test.

“We will never tolerate this kind of action for whatever reason from our personnel,” Acting MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia said in a press briefing Monday.

Garcia assured that due process will be given to the SCOG personnel.

The MMDA will also not interfere if the vendor will file charges against the MMDA personnel.

“The employees should be responsible for their actions. It is the right of the victim to file a complaint against them. Definitely, the MMDA will not interfere or help them in anyway,” Garcia said.

The MMDA reiterated that it will not allow illegal vendors along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila while it does not condone any wrongdoing of its personnel.

The agency is not against vendors trying to earn a living for their families but they have to confine themselves in appropriate areas where they are allowed to sell their products.

“We understand the plight of the vendors but we cannot just allow them wherever they want,” according to the MMDA official.

The clearing operations are currently conducted by the MMDA are in compliance with the President’s directive to clear major thoroughfares of road obstructions including illegal vendors.

“The public have to understand our campaign to free major roads from obstruction. Any obstruction, especially along EDSA, will create traffic and chaos,” Garcia said. Aerol John Pateña/