Top Things You Need to Know When Driving in Manila

When you’re driving in the streets on Manila, it’s always feels like the gates of hell a jungle out there. Coming out from the safety of your homes, you venture to the wild and hope that you can get from point A to point B in one piece. Ok, so maybe it’s just the volume of cars. But what’s annoying sometimes is that you discover that the traffic is being caused by uniformed cops on duty. Whether from apprehending cars in questionable moments (when it’s a crawl, how the heck does someone run a red light? How? you’re there mr. cop. TELL the driver what he should do BEFORE the violation happens. Not after), or just sitting around not doing anything, or just plain confusion where they don’t have a clue what to do. It’s annoying. So on top of worrying about the traffic, you need to also worry about these guys who will try to catch you doing something wrong.

Luckily, MMDA has released an official note about what the “REAL” rules are. Ignorance is not an excuse. Next time you get caught, make sure you know what your rights are.
The full list is in their website but here are my top take-aways:
  1. Apprehending officer CANNOT take your license away from a violation. It has to be either from an accident, something more serious like unsettled prior violations or even using a fake ID or license. I have been wrongly accused more than once for a violation that I did not commit and never have I given out my license. I only show them that I have it but I don’t give it. Also, I always carry a photocopy of my license in my wallet so that if they insist on “just looking” at the license, then they can have that.

  2. Always ask what the violation is and don’t be scared to probe. “Obstruction? What was I obstructing? I was the only car there.” I’m not saying I’m a perfect driver, but I do know when I’ve committed a violation so unless the apprehending officer can articulate to me what it was I did wrong, I’m not agreeing to anything

  3. You can only be apprehended by 1 officer. If they gang up on you, get their names. All of them. Tell them that what they’re doing is wrong.

  4. Swerving is not a violation.

You can find the full list here in MMDA’s website. Careful though, sometimes they will tell you that they are not within MMDA scope. I just ask back if there are different traffic rules based on city.

I’m not saying that all traffic enforcers are bad. I have seen a huge improvement over the past few years which I appreciate. But it is still not enough, traffic is still bad and there are countless hours lost navigating the gates of hell city. From a personnel standpoint, there are also still some rotten eggs out there. Some I don’t even know if they are doing it on purpose, or they just don’t know what’s right from wrong. Don’t be a victim. Ignorance is not an excuse.
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