MANILA, Philippines – “I still encourage the general public to video wrongdoing. I encourage everyone to utilize various media. We all have that right.”
This was what Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino said on Tuesday, September 29, clarifying reports quoting him as saying that those who record MMDA officers’ wrongdoings are liable for “wiretapping.”
Netizen Dianne Versoza sparked the issue after she posted a video of her alleged “transaction” with an MMDA officer along Commonwealth avenue in Quezon City. She was flagged down for alleged overspeeding, although she claimed she maintained a safe driving speed..
In the video posted by WhenInManila on September 22, the traffic enforcer repeatedly said he will give Versoza a traffic violation ticket, seemingly waiting for the driver to offer a bribe. At the last minute, Versoza changed her mind saying, “Mali, eh.” (It’s wrong.)
At the end of the video, the face of the traffic enforcer, later identified as Joel Vargas, is seen.
While Tolentino said he already sacked Vargas, he reportedly said in an interview with dzBB that the car owner is also liable for recording the transaction.
“In entrapment operations like that, the one that is entrapped also has a violation. We have an Anti-Wiretapping Law. There are legal provisions that makes those who offer bribes liable. The entrapped officers can go after them,” Tolentino said in a radio interview on Sunday, September 27.
When asked to clarify his statement about wiretapping on Tuesday, however, Tolentino refused to answer directly, saying it is a “gray area involving rules of evidence.”
He also brought up Article 212 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that “(t)he same penalties imposed upon the officer corrupted, except those of disqualification and suspension, shall be imposed upon any person who shall have made the offers or promises or given the gifts or presents as described in the preceding articles.”
Tolentino, in December 2014, encouraged motorists and the public to use video cameras to record illegal activities of MMDA officers. – with reports from Katerina Francisco and David Lozada/ Rappler.com