I saw this cab, Bernadell Taxi with plate number UWN 692.
I asked the driver who had his window open: "Manong, metro lang po."
He said yes so I went in. As soon as I sat down he pointed to something that didn't look like the regular meter and pointed to the digits at the end and said:
"Sir, ito po ang metro natin. Bale 30 per 1km. 30 po yung flag down. Nasa zero zero po ah."
I just nodded thinking it was just another model of a meter but worked the same.
He asked me to pay for the 20 pesos fee on the skyway and I handed it to him.
As we were speeding through the skyway, I saw that the counter he pointed at earlier was furiously counting the distance but the price remained at 44.
I asked him: "Manong, paano ko mapapareimburse kung ganyan yan?"
"Kaya nga pinaliwanag ko sa inyo bago tayo umalis eh. Kung gusto nyo bumaba na lang kayo." He put on his hazard lights and parked along Buendia corner South Superhighway.
"Hindi, manong. Metered taxi iisa lang dapat meaning nyan. So, magkano na yan?"
"Kuentahin nyo. Nag oopisina pa naman kayo, hindi kayo marunong magkuenta. Saan ba kayo nag oopisina?"
"Hindi ko nga maintindihan ang metro mo dahil may sarili kang sistema."
Took out 300 from my bag and handed it to him. "Akin na ho ang resibo ko."
"300 per kilometer!"
"Ha? Hindi na tama yan, manong."
"Eh, dapat hindi ka sumakay."
The whole time I was trying to open the door and I couldn't. I couldn't roll down the window too. I was imagining all sorts of scenarios. I didn't want to end up in some ditch in some dark alley so I decided I should just promise to give him money by withdrawing from an ATM.
He agreed to let me off at some ATM after I give him the money I'm supposed to owe him. We passed several and he wouldn't let me get off because he said there was no pedestrian lane but I noticed it was because those ATMs had guards near them. We passed some MAPSA Officers and I thought of screaming out to them or waving crazily to catch their attention but I doubted if they could hear or see me from the closed car. We got to Jupiter and he still wouldn't let me get off despite the many ATMs that dotted the length of the street.
Finally, he saw the BPI at corner Jupiter and Polaris where it was relatively dark and isolated. There were vendors across the street, and some drunk was sitting on the road being pulled up by his girlfriend. Maybe the driver thought, I wouldn't think I could get help there. He went down to let me out of the cab and I took my stuff with me and went up the steps to the bank. After pretending to take out my card from my bag, I took out my phone and hastily took a pic of the cab. I made to run towards the people across the street and knowing he wouldn't be able to keep me cornered, he zoomed away.
I ran to a police vehicle parked along Makati Ave. There was no one inside. I looked around to check if there was an officer nearby but there wasn't. I hastened off to my friend's condo where I was planning to spend the night, nervously looking at every cab thinking it might be the cab driver coming back to
|Photo not owned, CTTO|
insist on getting the money he thinks I owe him. As soon as I got in, I tried calling 911 and it wasn't working. I tried calling 8888 and it wasn't working either. I tried both numbers for more than 15 times total and I was never able to connect. I found the NAIA SMS hotline and messaged it asking what number I can contact to report an incident involving a taxi scam. I didn't get a reply. Sent the same message to the NAIA FB page but maybe nobody is minding it now. Maybe I'll get replies later.
I don't know if this is so already, but taxicabs should not be able to keep a passenger hostage inside the car. I hope that a law is passed penalizing cabs that are found to have this kind of doors.
I don't know how NAIA can prevent this from happening to other people but I hope they do.
I hope the emergency hotline numbers, which I was so happy to hear about when people said they were working, actually worked when we need them.
I hope I can get back to feeling safer again in the city.
I don't know what I can advise to people to prevent this from happening to them but I sure hope it doesn't.
Please take care and I hope this reaches the right authorities for this cab driver to lose his license.
By: Ralph Perez
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