MTPB chief turns tables on accuser

The head of the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau on Friday said a supposed vendor accusing him of being involved in an alleged extortion racket in Divisoria is a member of a powerful syndicate protecting thousands of illegal vendors in the popular market district.

MTPB chief Dennis Alcoreza said the complainant, a certain Magnolia Balana Geraldino, is “one of the close associates” of the leader of the syndicate collecting protection money from lowly Divisoria vendors.

“She is an ‘organizer’, the one who collects money for her ‘boss’. She was probably ordered by her boss to reveal herself. They’re making it appear that she is a vendor, when in fact she is not,” Alcoreza said.

Geraldino has filed robbery through extortion charges against Alcoreza and his men before the Manila Police District, saying the MTPB officials have been illegally collecting P100 fees daily from 6,000 night vendors in Divisoria.

Alcoreza said they have identified three other personalities aside from Geraldino behind the protection racket.

“We have arrested some [suspects] already. We even arrested members of the government, from the DPS [Manila Department of Public Services],” the MTPB chief said. “They are the ones who make so much money from this illegal collection. They are the ones making money.”

He clarified that city hall is only charging Divisoria vendors P20 per square meter for the space they occupy at the night market.

Alcoreza believes these syndicates have been creating a ruckus because they are hurting from the intensified road clearing campaign of Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

“All throughout this time, we’ve been telling the vendors that they only need to pay the P20 per square meter fee to the city treasurer’s office, no more, no less,” he said.

Earlier, Estrada called on vendors in Manila, especially in Divisoria, to be wary of syndicates and personalities inciting them to rally against the road-clearing operations.

“These extortionists and syndicates who earn money by demanding ‘protection fees’ from illegal vendors are feeling the heat of our street clearing operations. It is not surprising they are attempting to make this desperate move to break our momentum,” Estrada pointed out.

Topics: Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau , Divisoria , Dennis Alcoreza , Magnolia Balana Geraldino
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