MANILA, Philippines – A Quezon City traffic enforcer whose photo went viral on social media said he was only making a citizen’s arrest that’s why he was not in uniform.
On Saturday, June 20, pictures of QC Department of Public Order and Safety’s (DPOS) Melrick Paez went viral on social media when Facebook user Nathaniel Melegrito Tolentino said a traffic enforcer, who was only wearing a jacket, shorts, and slippers, rudely apprehended him for beating a red light.
In his post, Tolentino questioned if a traffic enforcer is allowed to apprehend traffic violators even if he or she is not wearing the proper uniform. (READ: What to do when a dubious traffic enforcer flags you down?)
According to Paez, he was not in proper attire as he was off duty on that day. He was riding his designated motorcycle after refuelling it at a gas station along Aurora Boulevard when he saw Tolentino beat a red a light.
According to an official DPOS report, Rodelio Galindez, the Barangay Marilag traffic enforcer on duty at that time, could no longer chase Tolentino as he needed to attend to the heavy traffic in the area. Tolentino also already drove out of Galindez’s area of jurisdiction.
Paez then chased Tolentino and was able to stop him somewhere near Albany Street corner Aurora Boulevard.
“Hindi ko po ‘yun hinuli. [Bilang isang] concerned citizen, tumulong lang po ako (I didn’t arrest him. I only helped as a concerned citizen),” Paez said, adding that he was only carrying out a citizen’s arrest.
However, a citizen’s arrest, according to QC Ordinance No 2307, Series of 2014, is “the arrest effected or carried out by any private person, to any individual who is in actual commission of an offense, into custody in order that he/she may be bound to answer for the same.”
The same ordinance defines a private person as someone “not belonging or connected to any law enforcement agency/office or a law enforcement officer but not in actual performance of his official duty at the time of the arrest.”
In his Facebook post, Tolentino also questioned why Paez did not have a mission order, a document indicating a traffic enforcer’s area of responsibility, time of duty, and official function. It also indicates if an enforcer is authorized to issue tickets.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority traffic enforcers hold mission orders. Paez said QC local traffic enforcers are given deputation orders instead.
Because he was off duty, Paez said he turned over Tolentino to another barangay traffic enforcer.
“Kinuha ko ‘yung enforcer sa 15th Avenue, tapos dinala ko sa kanya. [Sabi ko sa kanya], ‘Ikaw na bahala diyan. Kunin mo ‘yung lisensya kung gusto mo (I called the enforcer assigned to 15th Avenue and turned over Tolentino to him. I told him, ‘He’s in your jurisdiction now. Get his license if you want’),” said Paez.
However, he admitted that he did get Tolentino’s motorcycle key when he called the traffic enforcer to prevent Tolentino from running away. “Pero binalik ko naman (But I returned the key).”
Tolentino was not given a traffic violation ticket.
“Pinagbigyan na lang namin, po (We just let him go),” said Perez. – Rappler.com
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