Five minutes of shame

WE watched with morbid fascination a video posted online that showed a woman shouting at traffic enforcers and engaging them in a heated argument last week after they tried to give her a ticket for illegal parking.

“Where are my five minutes?” she repeatedly demanded, referring to the grace period that the Metro Manila Development Authority [MMDA] grants before it tows illegally parked vehicles. Whether it was the result of anger, arrogance, or simple ignorance, the woman clearly did not understand that getting to her car before the five minutes were up simply saved her from towing, not a ticket.

At one point, she apparently tried to drive away and almost hit an MMDA enforcer in the attempt. She then continued to defy the growing number of traffic officials, and even policemen who tried to get her to comply with the regulations, creating a scene on a busy Quezon City street.

The truly shameful part was that her husband arrived on the scene, shouting expletives at the MMDA enforcers, and warning them that his wife was pregnant and bleeding, and that he would sue them if she lost the baby.

Then, in a supreme display of arrogance, he told them, “Don’t you know who she is? She’s a fiscal!”

It was at that moment that our morbid fascination turned to outrage over the sheer arrogance of these people who are supposed to be servants of the people, and who work in an agency that it supposed to dispense justice.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the woman, Christine Estepa, was indeed a state prosecutor, as is her husband, Macky. Both work for the Department of Justice.

Both have since posted a video apology, saying that emotions got the better of them, but the MMDA says it will file a complaint just the same and has asked the Land Transportation Office to suspend the woman’s driver’s license.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, for his part, says Christine Estepa has already been directed to comment on the MMDA complaint.

“Then we’ll decide if we should dismiss the complaint outright or formally charge her,” he said, explaining that this was part of the procedural due process.

The Justice secretary, however, is not clear what charges will be filed against the couple, or if any departmental sanctions will be imposed, not for her traffic violations, but for their unacceptable behavior.

The actions of these two prosecutors have given the Justice department a black eye. If Guevarra doesn’t deal with this in a way that signals to all that such arrogance will never be tolerated, the damage to the department’s image will certainly last longer than five minutes.

Topics: Editorial , Five minutes of shame , Metro Manila Development Authority , MMDA , Christine Estepa , Department of Justice , Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
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