Threatened by cab driver
A call center agent and his wife got the scare of their lives when a taxi driver flashed a knife at them and shouted curses when they asked for a P10 rebate because of lower flag down rates.
Angered by the couple’s request, the driver threw two five-peso coins at them.
“Mikuha gyod siyag kutsilyo, then giti-unan mi. Nangurog na pag-ayo akong asawa. Dayon miingon ang driver, ‘Mosukol mo? Isog mo? (He pointed a knife at us. My wife was shaking in fear. Then, the driver said, ‘Will you fight back? Are you brave?)’” 26-year-old Dave Say Horca later recalled after getting off at the IT Park in Cebu City Monday night.
After taking a quick photo of the cab’s body number and posting it on Facebook, Horca filed a complaint with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7.
The driver and operator have been summoned to show up today and explain why they shouldn’t both be penalized for overcharging. The driver has an additional lapse to explain: making threats with a deadly weapon.
The hostile encounter took place on Day 1 of the implementation of a nationwide rollback of the taxi flag-down rate from P40 to P30 due to lower fuel prices.
Passengers are left to assert their right to a lower cab fare (unless drivers automatically deduct the P10 amount) because taxi meters were not ordered re-calibrated.
The fare adjustment is a provisional or temporary one while a petition is being heard by the LTFRB for the reduction of taxi service rates.
Earlier on Monday, a taxi driver in Cebu City was caught overcharging. He apologized, saying he didn’t know the rollback had already taken effect. He was meted a fine of P1,000. His operator was penalized P5,000.
Horca, a call center agent, was accompanying his wife, another call center agent, to her job on the graveyard shift in IT Park about 9:05 p.m. on Monday.
The meter read P78 for a ride from home in Escario Street. His wife gave a P100 bill and asked the driver if he was aware of the flag-down rollback because they didn’t get the right change. She told him that since taxi meters were not re-calibrated, they should be charged only P68.
The driver, who was later identified as Joel Ramos of SD Taxi, was irked, saying he didn’t know about the new order. He then flung two five-peso coins at the couple seated in the back. That’s when the driver allegedly pulled out a knife and threatened them.
Horca said he grabbed his wife’s hand and disembarked quickly. The driver also got out, no longer holding a knife, and followed them at a distance as he shouted: Hambugero… hambugera.. di motarong og bayad! (You snobs. You don’t pay the right fare).
As the couple entered the gate of IT Park i3 Building, Horca reached for his camera phone to take a shot of the driver, who quickly returned to his cab.
Horca was able to take a photo of the cab with its body number 0112 and posted it on his Facebook account, warning others of his encounter with the hostile driver.
He said the driver’s reddish eyes and belligerent manner made him suspect the man was high on drugs.
As of 5 p.m., the FB account was shared 971 times.
“I had no plans to fight him because I was worried about my wife who was agitated. She has a heart problem,” said Horca.
They started to walk from Jollibee to the i3 Building, with the taxi following the couple. Security guards at the i3 Building urged the workers to get inside after noticing the cab following them.
Yesterday morning, Horca sought the help of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to complain.
LTFRB records identified the driver, Ramos, and operator of the SD Taxi as Doncillo Sinforiano. Both have been summoned to give their side in a hearing on March 12.
The operator, who was reached by phone, said the driver Ramos was on his rest day after driving a 24-hour shift on Monday.
“I want the operator and the driver to be here. This is not an ordinary complaint,” said LTFRB Regional Director Reynaldo Elnar, who received Horca’s complaint in his office.
Elnar encouraged the husband to file a criminal charge for being threatened with a knife. He said this was the first time he received a complaint of this kind.
“This is necessary to discipline the driver. If no charges are filed, some drivers will continue to be abusive.”
Overcharging is considered a franchise-related violation with a corresponding but lower penalty for the driver under Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01 which contains revised penalties for land transport violations.
The stiffer fines prompted transport operators to stage near-crippling one-day strikes last year in Cebu and other urban centers.
For the first offense, an operator pays a P5,000 fine. At the second offense, the unit will be impounded for 30 days and the fine is P10,000. On the third offense, the operator’s Certificate of Public Conveyance is cancelled.
Elnar of LTFRB-7 said the first taxi driver who was apprehended for violating the new flag-down rate, Emilio Senining and his operator Gladys Dianne Lee were slapped fines for a first offense.
As of yesterday, both of them have not yet paid the fees. The usual practice is for the fines to be collected when the owner applies for renewal of motor vehicle registration or the driver seeks to renew his license.
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