MMDA suspends enforcers who assaulted coconut vendor

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Monday, March 5, suspended 3 enforcers who beat up a coconut vendor during sidewalk clearing operations.

In a press briefing, MMDA Officer-in-Charge General Manager Jojo Garcia said the 3 enforcers who were caught in a viral video last Friday, March 2, were placed under preventive suspension for 15 days starting Monday.

"We condemn and we don't tolerate this kind of action from our employees, whatever the reason," said Garcia.

On Friday, coconut vendor Romnick Roles got into a scuffle with MMDA enforcers from the Sidewalk Clearing Operations Group (SCOG) after he refused to have his cart impounded for illegally selling along EDSA.

Roles, according to the MMDA, threatened to throw blocks of ice at the enforcers, leading to the confrontation.

The incident is still under investigation but Roles said he would file a case against the enforcers.

"Ang gusto ko po talaga sana matanggal na sila para hindi na sila makahawa sa ibang kasamahan nila. Hindi makatao 'yung ginagawa nila. (What I really hope is that they will be fired so they don't influence their coworkers. What they did was inhumane)," the vendor told reporters on Monday.

Clearing sidewalks without violence

Garcia maintained that sidewalks, especially along EDSA, should be free from obstruction to lessen congestion.

He also pointed out that the MMDA's clearing operations are based on the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to clear major thoroughfares of obstructions, including illegal vendors.

"The mandate of the MMDA is to clear these roads but definitely, what they (enforcers) did was wrong. It's wrong to hurt people," Garcia said in a mix of English and Filipino.

He added that enforcers are instructed to exercise maximum tolerance at all times. Roles' case, according to Garcia, was an isolated incident.

As of posting time, the viral video has been viewed more than 14 million times and shared over 85,000 times. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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